War Rocket Ajax #118: The Crew Breaks Down Dan DiDio’s Favorites, Part Two [Podcast]
Back in March, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio made a list of his ten favorite titles published during his tenure with the company. This week on ComicsAlliance, Chris Sims, Matt Wilson and Andy Khouri sit down for the second half of their discussion of DiDio's list, featuring Superman: Earth One, Batman R.I.P., and the New 52 -- and you can listen to the whole episode right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax #118: Dan DiDio's Top Ten, Part Two
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)
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Once again, none of the usual checks or recs this week as we roll right into the discussion! Here are a few highlights.
Superman: Earth One:
MATT: I think when DiDio says that the original graphic novels, specifically, are making characters unidentifiable, he's talking about Elseworlds stories. He's talking about indie reimaginings of characters. I think he's talking about that kind of stuff, which often gets put into graphic novels rather than individual issues that then get collected. To try to read his mind on this, it seems like what he sees as a milestone is putting out a book in a format like this one that could be popular and have Superman look like Superman, even if he doesn't act like Superman.
ANDY: He's really trying to hit every relevant aesthetic. Look at the cover, it's Superman with a hoodie, he looks moody, he's got hair in his face, they want to hit that Young Adult aesthetic. The gloomy, tortured thing. Superman: Secret Origin was for the core fanbase, with the Johnsian thinking of synthesizing all the elements and dimensions of Superman of the past into some new thing for people to enjoy. I think that's what this is: They wanted to do a version of Superman emulating a popular aesthetic. The people who enjoyed Superman: Earth One would not enjoy Superman: Secret Origin.
MATT: Earth One is a book that hypothetically -- and through its success did in some ways -- appealed to an audience that is not your average comics reader. It may be a Smallville fan, or a Twilight reader. DiDio even mentions Twilight in his comments. I think that's the difference for DiDio, it's not "is the character true to the character that has existed since the late '30s," it's "what new markets are we opening up."
CHRIS: Like I said at the beginning, I think we see a lot of stuff that's not good, but it sold. Earth One is a story where Superman's symbol that he wears on his chest comes from an advertising firm. It's literally marketing. That infuriates me.
Batman R.I.P. and "The Sinestro Corps War":
CHRIS: Batman R.I.P. is the best Batman story of the Modern Age, so I have no problem with that being on the list.
ANDY: There's a recognition here that the core books, the ongoing series with the superstar creative teams -- he specifically mentions Morrison on Batman R.I.P. and "The Sinestro Corps War" with Geoff Johns -- how those books really showed them the way. I think he's saying "we got lost in all this nonsense with Countdown and Final Crisis, and these books were off on their own doing their own thing, and these are the books people really connected to, rather than that stuff we were pushing so hard and trying to connect everything to." I think that is a keen observation on DiDio's part, and I think he's right.
MATT: As books were going off on their own and there wasn't any prevailing, overarching editorial direction, two comics were telling these huge stories. Even though they had different audiences, they held together very well, and proved to really build a fandom around them. Those two were Green Lantern and Batman, what Morrison was doing on Batman and what Johns was doing on Green Lantern. So in that sense, they're simliar, but as stories? Man, they could not be more different.
The New 52:
CHRIS: I think ComicsAlliance as a site, War Rocket Ajax as a podcast, you and me as individuals, Matt, we've kinda said our piece on the New 52.
ANDY: It seems very cynical, and it is to a certain degree, but I do think -- and I got this from talking to people who work at DC and people who work on these books, and people who actually enjoy them -- these are comics they think are cool. These are comics they want to make. This is why they've hired the people that they did. They remember a time in the '90s when comics were like this, and they were really popular, and everyone was having a good time. If you go down the list and look at Hush and Superman: Earth One, even the Supergirl book and maybe even Identity Crisis, you see these aesthetic touchstones that hearken back to comics in the '90s, the Wildstorm era, when everything was about the dark side of everything. The edginess of super-heroes, the government conspiracies and sexiness and violence. That's the comics that I think the people running DC actually love, and that's what the New 52 is. And that's why they're so into it.
MATT: Earlier, you talked about how there's no unifying structure behind this whole thing, and that was a complaint. I think it's a blessing wrapped in a curse. Everything that's good from the New 52, Snyder's Batman, Batwoman, Animal Man, Wonder Woman, I think all of those successes are the result of a handful of writers being allowed to and having the tools to do what they want. Clearly Azzarello is doing what he wants on Wonder Woman. Morrison's doing what he wants on Batman Inc. and Action -- there's no way Action Comics #9 would've gotten through if he wasn't just doing what he wants. If there was a unifying theme of "these are the stories we're going to tell," every comic would be like Justice League, I think. Because there isn't, we're getting some of the gems of the new 52.
Plus, the crew answers your listener questions about the past ten years of comics! Don't miss it!