Saturday, August 23, 2008

Didio: Rebooting Was A Mistake

Dan Didio @ Toronto Fan Expo:

"My problem with us is that we reboot the characters too much.

“What happens is that if a character doesn’t work, we go, ‘We got a brand new direction to put him in! We’re moving him into something new! We’re going to try something brand new and different! We’re going to throw everything out and start over again!’ We make that mistake, but what that does is, it alienates fans.

“Our biggest mistake is that we don’t continue and build on…"

Now, is Didio referring to creative team reboots like Supergirl & Flash?

Or rebooted characters like Atom, Firestorm, and Blue Beetle?

Or both?

I'd like to couple this with references made in the last Lying In The Gutters regarding the fates of books like Atom, Blue Beetle, etc:

"...we can expect a swathe of cancelled DC books.

"We've seen "Shadowpact," "All New Atom," "Checkmate" and more get cancelled at certain sales levels. Now books like "Blue Beetle" and "Simon Dark" are at similar lower levels. My prediction: expect announcements shortly."

Now, I really don't want to see a book like Blue Beetle get cancelled, as I think it has a lot of merit.

However, I wonder with this newly admitted regret over rebooting, if DC's faith in the current crop of rebooted characters has dwindled.


  1. I think the problem isn't the reboot so much as the lack of consideration put INTO those reboots. Blue Beetle's obviously an example of getting it right (though there was NO REASON to kill Ted Kord in the process) and the Bart-as-the-Flash-no-wait-it's-Wally-no-Barry stuff is insanely bad (but hopefully about to work out with Johns at the helm). Supergirl is a case of getting it wrong and then trying fifteen different creative teams tied to the same awful premise. Sigh.

  2. I don't think all rebooted characters are automatically bad. I think you have to look at things like the response to the character before and after the reboot, the reason for the reboot, and whether the reboot replaces the former version of the character, among other things.

    I think the last question is the most important, especially in the DC Universe. In cases like Firestorm and Blue Beetle, they could always bring back the old versions of the characters with virtually no problem. On the other hand, there are characters (and Legion of Super-Heres is the only example I can think of right now) where they basically just throw out the old concept and start wholesale, and that CAN understandably alienate fans - although, Legion of 3 Worlds has proved that even in cases like those, the old versions can sometimes be brought back.

    Basically what I think it boils down to is, of course you can go overboard with reboots, but we wouldn't have a Silver Age (or anything that followed, for that matter) without them.

  3. But...Blue Beetle is good! Drat. I mean, I agree otherwise...learn from your mistakes, etc.

  4. Hey I was at my first fan expo this weekend! Lots of people had fun but I realised how much I hate line ups...

    Ny coolest experience was watching Brian Bolland draw (until my wife dragged me away)...

    My feelings on rebooting characters is that there must have been a reason to do it in the first place.

    Maybe the numbers were poor in the original characters book.

    Maybe the characters hadn't been around in any form for a while and the "reboot" would give them a more up to date version of the character.

    I think that their intentions are probably "good" but we know what they say about the "road to hell"...


  5. The 3 characters you mention (Blue Beetle, Firestorm, the Atom) have never been major financial successes in any form for DC, so a reboot makes some sense.

    And, as mentioned, with all 3, it did not muddy prior continuity or characters because these were all new people donning the mantle of that hero.

    My concern is always with reboots of major characters which seem destined to fail or reboots of minor characters which make continuity a mess.

    For the former, I think the Bart as the Flash for 13 issues and then killing him off seemed a pretty unnecessary reboot. It is not as if those issues were eart-shattering either.

    As for the latter, the one that kills me is the recent John Byrne Doom Patrol. So DP while minor has major continuity hooks - Gar's step-dad, tying into big events, even Morrison's run. It seemed pretty short-sighted of DC to think that *this* reboot would be so great and well-received that it warrants trampling on the older works.

    Supergirl is a completely different story. Sounds like there was some executive decision to make her Kryptonian again but the resulting stories have been pretty lousy.

  6. It's not the rebooting but the execution...almost literally...while I feel Ted Kord didn't need to die, at least they didn't replace him with a grim n gritty character.

    Often the reboots are just "hey, let's change the character to match whatever is hot right now."

  7. Anonymous3:33 PM

    I am going to discuss the pink elephant in the room in terms of why Blue Beetle, Firestorm, and The Atom failed: Race.

    I know, I know: Nobody wants to believe it and nobody wants to say it, but honestly, it is no coincidence that three titles that featured minority characters in the roles of previously white characters had to affect sales. I didn't want to believe as much until I saw comments on about DC's decision to bring back the Milestone characters. A number of posters then suggested that since the Milestone characters were being brought in, Firestorm and Blue Beetle in particular should be white again.

    I am not trying to suggest that nostalgia doesn't play a role here. In fact, it is perhaps fairer to suggest that nostalgia plays a larger role than race. On the other hand, one cannot discount race--particularly since DC (nor Marvel) does not have the best track record in that regard.

  8. I'm torn. I love Ted Kord but I also love Jaime Reyes. That said, I think that Jaime has a bit over Ted Kord in that, on paper, he's not just a second-rate Batman (although one could argue he's a second-rate Spider-man). I hope they keep him around for a while, and I would hate to see him bite the bullet because Didio decided he wanted Ted Kord back.


  9. I was there when he was speaking about this, and I'm pretty sure he didn't mean characters like Blue Beetle...It seemed to me it wasn't aimed at any particular character(s), but just the general tendency to change tack with a character if it doesn't work, not necessarily giving the mantle to someone else.

    His point was moreso that right now they're looking at what's the best way to do a given character and to stick with that. The example he gave was Supergirl, in that the version they have of her now is the version that most people know and understand: Kara Zor-el, Superman's cousin.

    Though he did mention that Blue Beetle was in danger, but his mentioning of that wasn't tangential to the rebooting discussion, but when someone brought up Manhunter.

  10. Anonymous10:28 AM

    Yeah. To Maddy's point: I guess I'd have to question the definition of "reboot." Are we talking about situations like Blue Beetle or Firestorm or are we talking about major retcons, like Wonder Woman?

    solebro5: I can't say you're wrong. I never underestimate the Jennifer Hudson/LaToya London effect.

  11. since they fucked spidey up so bad, i get my empty feelings filled with blue beetle. i love the character and the comic.

  12. DC's most annoying problem is that they have fallen into a pattern:

    1. Do something horrible to a character or make a character do something horrible.
    2. Defend the horrible something or other, with cliche statements about burning a pregnant woman's corpse celebrating life and how characters being tested (and often failing such tests) is a mark literature.
    3. Realize the sales have run dry on the initial horrible thing, and now reboot.

    That said, I would buy Mary Marvel : Rebirth in a heartbeat.

    self-defeating like,


  13. Maybe he was talking baout the recent attempt by Jim Starlin to once again make a mess out of Hawkman's origin. I mean, Geoff Johns puts a lot fo effort into making Hawkman a character everyone can come to accept now, and then Jim Starlin thinks it's a good idea to mess with that.

    But hey, Didio approved it too...

  14. There's one character nobody's mentioned yet: The Question. I hated the fact that they killed Ted Kord, but I'm finally warming up to Jaime in the role. Besides, what they both have in common is that they were both created with the idea of becoming the Blue Beetle.

    But with the new Montoya Question...ugh. For me, it has nothing to do with race or gender or sexual orientation or anything. Instead, it just smacks of someone (Rucka) shoehorning a favorite character that's not getting much play in the DCU into a role she has no business being in just to make her "relevant" again. I mean, the Vic Sage character was created by Ditko with the inspiration of Ayn Rand's beliefs...the faceless mask MEANT something to the Sage character. It was completely, 100% organic. But, no let's kill him off (especially since his appearances on JLU made him arguably the biggest break-out star of that need to capitalize on that) and put in Greg's not-so popular character, who doesn't represent any of the beliefs that went into the original creation of the Question identity, so that more people will use her. Just a terrible thing to do to a character.

  15. Hey there! Kiel Phegley here who was at the panel and wrote the report. I think that Didio was mostly talking about the more "big name" properties or at least the ones who were generally recognizable to the general public.

    Specific examples included Flash, Hawkman, Aquaman and Supergirl, although with the latter it seemed that he was happy with making her Kara Zor El again and wasn't talking about the recent problems the solo title has had with consistent characterization.