As regular readers of this site and other comics sites know, the DCU has been taking a lot of lumps for perceived insensitivity in handling the death of various minority characters, and they haven’t had too many opportunities to set the record straight. However, a big interview with co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee conducted by Fearless Kiel Phegley has been quoted widely:
There’s been a lot of discussion – and a lot of angry discussion, I’d say – coming out of some of the recent DCU storylines, specifically the death of Ryan Choi in the “Titans” Brightest Day launch…
Didio: And if I could jump in here for a second, I’d ask “What past that?” There seems to be a concern about us pulling back in diversity, and we identify Ryan Choi, but we don’t identify what more than that. If you’re talking about a single character, we can’t run backwards from the way we act and behave with our characters because we’re afraid of addressing characters of different race or putting them in stories that are bigger or more exciting, I’m sorry to say. This is an interesting thing to me, because since I’ve been here, we’ve been extraordinarily aggressive in trying to bring racial diversity and diversifying our cast of characters as much as possible. That’s been part of our agenda for the last five to eight years since I’ve been here. We’re talking about a single character with Ryan Choi, but I’d love to know about examples past that, because at the same time that we’ve got Ryan Choi, we’ve got a Great Ten series running. If you look at every team book and everything we’re doing, we go to extraordinary lengths to diversify the casts and show our audience in our books.
Well, I think for some that the focus gets put on characters that fail one way or another. At the same time as this has been going on, there’s been a lot of positive talk of Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle getting a push for live action. How do you view your role in terms of making sure that successes are carried through in a long term way?
Didio: We’re always going to be exploring different ways to go. One of the things I think Grant Morrison did extraordinarily well with “52” and “Final Crisis” was to really show that it’s not just that the heroes are U.S.-centric. The introduction of the Great Ten and the introduction of the Super Young Team are things that Grant brought that we constantly build out from. When Dwayne McDuffie was writing “Justice League of America,” we had an incredibly diverse cast of characters as we worked the Milestone characters into the DC Universe. So again, we’re taking great steps to show that we as a company reflect the audience that’s out there for our books. When we go to conventions, we look at the audience, and we see that it’s an incredible blend in terms of race and gender. Men and women read our books. We have a wide breadth of books and things going on, and to focus on one thing is inappropriate, in my opinion. It’s a mistake, because if you look at one book, you have to realize that DC Comics puts out nearly a hundred books each month, and to focus on one book, one issue, is doing a true disservice to the company, the comics and to the industry.
This answer should convince you beyond the shadow of a doubt that Didio has been playing all the internets all these years, and the whole “blue pink green” thing is part of an elaborate work, all built up to drum up publicity.
The evidence? Look at the examples of things DC has done right he mentions! It’s a bingo card of internet outrage. Like, The Great Ten — which would be the 10-issue mini series that got cancelled after 9 issues, becoming synonymous with poor planning. And Dwayne McDuffie’s JLA run? That would be the run the writer was fired from, after complaining about being hamstrung by editorial edicts. For bonus points, that’s the same McDuffie who wrote of DC’s plan to bring back the African-American Milestone comics characters:
Plans for a Static monthly were scrapped by DC last spring. Based on their actions, they never really wanted to publish the Milestone stuff, they wasted my time. We could have done a little deal for them to use Static without me having to spend so much money on lawyers.
Now granted, the Super Young Team — a Japanese super-team introduced by Grant Morrison and the center of the Aftermath: Dance mini-series by Joe Casey — has not been, to our knowledge, the center of an internet kerfuffle, but Didio mentioning these other two controversies in order to avert further controversy? Come on, now. People, you are being played. Turn your attention to other things. Like the next post.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.