DC sends Superman into space and gives Batman his last rites

Nov. 17, 2008 | 7:50 a.m.

EXCLUSIVE: Dan DiDio of DC Comics talks about Superman leaving "Action Comics" (and Earth), the revival of "Adventure Comics" and major changes in Gotham City that will mean "a close to the existing lore … the last rites of Batman."


I was in New York a week ago to work on a long feature about the singer Beyoncé but (just to prove what a hopeless fanboy I really am) I was more excited about making my first visit ever to the offices of DC Comics, which was no disappointment. After a tour, I sat down with Dan DiDio, the senior vice president and executive editor of the DC Universe, which means he oversees the bread-and-butter, ongoing comics titles. He had plenty of scoop to share, including this Andy Kubert cover above, which is the variant for the upcoming landmark Batman tale "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader"…

Geoff Boucher: So, Dan, what are you most excited about right now?

Dan DiDio: Oh, gosh, that’s a good one. We’re coming to the end of “Final Crisis” right now and I’m not only excited about people reading the ending of “Final Crisis” but I’m also excited about getting to the end of “Final Crisis.” We did “Countdown to Final Crisis” and “Final Crisis” itself so this has been a long story for us. I feel we’ve accomplished a lot of goals and we created a lot of excitement. But more importantly it’s a point of change for us in DC Universe again. And once you know the ending is coming, it’s in sight, that’s when you start getting worked up about what’s coming up next. That’s what I really get jazzed about. We have two really big events that spin out of “Final Crisis” each in its own way and affecting our key franchises, Superman and Batman. The first thing we’re going to see is called “Battle for the Cowl,” that’s going to be a book that features nearly every member of the Batman family   

GB: Even Ace the Bat-Hound?

DD: [Laughs] Probably. We have a writer-artist team on this right now that’s scouring every book possible to see what they can include in these two-page spreads they want to build of all the characters that inhabit the Batman universe. So it’s a lot of fun for us. I always like those things because it’s a big noisy adventure book. And whenever you do one of those, the level of excitement is always right there on the page. You hopefully have people respond properly to that.

GB: There’s a lot going on with the Batman franchises.

Dan_didioDD: There are a lot of questions about what’s going on with the Batman line of titles. We just recently canceled three of the longtime Batman-related series: "Birds of Prey," "Robin" and "Nightwing." They all end in February. Then in March, “Battle for the Cowl” starts and once it does, you will get to understand how the Batman universe is starting to be realigned.

GB: And what about the Man of Steel?

DD: Simultaneous to “Battle for the Cowl,” we’re going to be making changes in Superman’s world as well. Superman has been the star of "Action Comics" for its entire run, essentially, and he will be leaving it and handing it over to new characters. The only time he hasn’t appeared in the book, I believe, was after “The Death of Superman,” in those years. So this is a lot of fun for us. I think that’s going to get people excited and scratching their heads and wondering what’s going on. In his own book, "Superman," there will be a dramatic turn as the hero leaves Earth and it seems like he’s leaving for good. We’ll follow his adventures in space more so than his adventures on Earth, and that’s a big and exciting thing. We’re also bringing back one of the old-time favorite titles of DC Comics, "Adventure Comics." It will be …

Adventure_comics_with_lsh…back with a new No. 1 and with new stars but old stars at the same time. It’ll be pretty easy to guess who will be the stars of "Adventure Comics" if you know who the title was most identified with…

GB: Well, which era? Sandman, the Spectre, Dial H for Hero, Superboy

DD: [Laughing] And who did Superboy appear with?

GB: Ah. The Legion of Super-Heroes.

DD: So this is a lot of fun for us. "Action," "Adventure," and "Superman," these are some of our premiere titles, some of the titles with the longest history. To affect a real level of change on these titles is exciting for us. It makes our oldest and most enduring titles fresh again.

GB: That history is both your greatest strength and your greatest challenge, I would imagine. You have the benefit of possessing iconic characters and their mythologies, but then you have to find a way to reinvent them and escape the clutter of their half-century histories…

DD: Absolutely. That is one of the huge challenges. But the interesting thing you have to do is go back to the core concept, back to the 1940s or even 1930s in some cases. There’s a reason the characters are still enduring now. You have to identify what made each character survive through the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s…the sensibilities have changed with every decade, but these characters remain pretty much the same. So what is it in the characters that people recognize and identify with? You keep that at the core and change the world around them to make it contemporary and compelling.

GB: There’s also the storytellers you have coming to the books. On Batman, for instance, in the span of a few months you have writers such as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Kevin Smith and Paul Dini

DD: Yes, absolutely. With Neil, he’s doing “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” in February, which pretty much pulls to a close the existing lore of Batman before we break into “Battle for the Cowl.” The Neil thing is really fun for us because it compares and kind of lines up with what Alan Moore did with “Whatever Happened to the Man from Tomorrow.” And that’s not to diminish by any means Grant’s stuff with “Batman R.I.P." He also celebrates so much of what Batman is about. Denny O’Neil steps in to celebrate so much of what he brought to the character and, of course, if any one person had the most influential voice on Batman for the longest period of time, Denny is that person. We have Paul Dini involved. Everyone is bringing their own package and their own unique voice in what we’re calling a celebration of the last rites of Batman. This is amazing stuff! You asked what I was excited about, right?

Check back here at Hero Complex later this week for more from this Dan DiDio interview, including his take on "the Aquaman problem." We also have a three-part Neil Gaiman interview starting Tuesday.

— Geoff Boucher


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Credits: That’s Dan DiDio in the pages of a special holiday issue from a few years ago. All images courtesy of DC Comics.

More in: Uncategorized, Batman, DC, Grant Morrison, Kevin Smith, Superman


12 Responses to DC sends Superman into space and gives Batman his last rites

  1. Nick Marino says:

    Dishy stuff, Geoff! I'm really interested to see what happens with Batman. And what's "the Auquaman problem"? The only "Aquaman problem" is that there's no Aquaman comic on the racks right now!

  2. The "Aquaman problem", as Dan has described it, is that Aquaman has been redone SO many times, which one is the most popular? Just like the Legion, there's numerous versions, each with their own fan base. It's possible there are more fans of the Peter David era interpretation reading comics currently than the Silver-Age orange and green outfitted one. They're in a position where whiichever one they bring back (or go for yet another one) they risk alienating fans of the other versions that won't read anything but "their" Aquaman. It's quite a challenge.

  3. Mark Dykeman says:

    I'm a lifelong DC Comics fanboy, but this is getting to be too much. Retreading the "Superman in Space" storyline? Canceling a whole pile of Bat-Books? And why on Earth does DC think that reviving Adventure Comics (which most of Gen. Y will never have heard of) and taking Superman out of Action Comics will have any lasting value to those franchises?
    How about just writing good, engaging stories that don't feel the need to reinvent major characters and their backstories over and over and over and over and over and over and… plus gimmicky specials?
    When will it end?

  4. Mark Hondo Brodersen says:

    It's great that both Adventure and the Legion of Super Heroes are coming back. The Legion is a concept that just keeps building strength and using it to anchor the lead spot in Adventure would be great while exposing readers to other characters without a book of their own i.e. The Creeper, Deadman, Ragman, The Doom Patrol, The Challengers of the Unknown, Blue Beetle, Loose Cannon, L.E.G.I.O.N., Azrael, Bizarro, Aquaman…
    Battle For The Cowl does seem like a harken back to the 90's after the Breaking of the Bat by Bane. Methinks Bruce Wayne will live and become esteemed mentor to the next person to fill the Batman outfit : Dick Grayson, now Nightwing and previously Bruce's first Robin. I'm thinking Bruce's son Damien will be the next Robin and the Nightwing identity is eliminated, at least for now.
    Superman in space ? That was a great read back in the day. I'm sure it ties in with the 100,000 Kryptonians storyline and will have Kal helping the Kryptonians set up New Krypton off somewhere. Superman in space is loaded with tons of possibilities and some real cosmic level threats to Big Blue.

  5. Black Orchid says:

    Superman in Space and out of Action was essentially done in the late 1980's and it didn't work then … I'm not sure it will work now as Superman books were getting built up again with something solid … and now it's broken up? DC is all over the place, and DiDio is on the HATE List with fans as it is …. DC is struggling with sales compared to Marvel and having more "BiG" events happening when others haven't even finished … I've been a comic book reader for almost the entirery of my life, and even I'm having trouble making sense of it all. If it wasn't for supporting Supergirl, I'd probably end up leaving … still … having "Adventure Comics" back is great … but I hope they'll stick with one version of the Legion already.

  6. Maxanon says:

    I can't believe that an editor would be so clueless about his own books. Doesn't anyone remember when they dumped superman off of Action comics and did nothing btu showcases of other characters for a whole year? It didn't work then. It won't work now. Count me out.

  7. JediBobster says:

    Whoa! But I've been reading and collecting Action Comics for years now – due to Superman. I don't want a whole in my collection, but equally I don't want to read a comic about other characters other than Superman. Action Comics IS Superman. Don't mess with that DC. You've already ditched Adv of Superman and Man of Steel, does this mean Superman is only going to be in ONE book?

  8. @Mark Dykeman
    it really doesn't matter that most Gen Yers haven't heard of Adventure comics giving that most of the people buying comics are gen X or middle aged guys. ANd I think it's the later group that new adventure comics hopes to lear with the name of the title.
    everyone else may come on board if the content interest them.

  9. Neuromancer says:

    Dan DiDio is the reason I stopped reading DCU books a few years ago. He unfortunately has all of the arrogance of Bill Jemas but none of his whimsy. I think the main reason why DC is bringing back so many of the old titles is to protect their trademark. Maybe one day I will come back to reading DC Comics, but for now, make mine Marvel, Image, and Dark Horse, with a little Oni and indies thrown in for good measure.

  10. Geoff Boucher says:

    Hey Rick, great to see your name. of course i remember you, you dumb lug. Hope all is well. I'm also at geoff.boucher@latimes.com

  11. Rick Jones says:

    Hey, Geoff. Don't know if you remember me, but we worked at the Independent Florida Alligator together for a year or so. Just thought I'd stop by and say hello.
    Rick Jones

  12. As a long-time comics reader and student of the history of comics, I have to say that by and by the current DCs are, editorially speaking, incredibly stupid. They take all the alienation of extended storylines with few entry points and/or convoluted history and *adds on* erratic shipping and, worse, changing concepts in midstream so that after a short time there's no reason to invest in them emotionally. This month's storyline or creative team is history in six months or a year. Recent examples off the top of my head: The Flash fiasco, the Countdown/Final Crisis (the latter in development for years — yet once committed to is still getting major rewrites this minute: why??) just for two high profile examples.
    Buzz was Warner's was only keeping DC for licensing purposes. Now I hear maybe DC actually makes enough to make Warner's happy. Dunno. Of course, query who would buy DC if it went on the block. Specially if the deal included a sweetheart licensing deal for Warner's. But even if enough of a money machine, it doesn't make Team DiDio good or right.
    DiDio makes comics as dumb — and dumbly — as people say. And often mediocre.

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