News broke on February 21, 2020, that Dan Didio had been fired by DC Comics. DiDio joined DC Comics in January 2002 as Vice President – Editorial. In October 2004, DiDio was promoted to Vice President – Executive Editor. On February 18, 2010, DiDio and Jim Lee were promoted to the roles of Co-Publisher of DC Comics.
Needless to say, DiDio has been the controlling force over DC Comics for an incredibly long time. At a later point, The Revolution will take a deep look at DiDio’s career at DC Comics and what missteps may have lead to his firing. Steven and I discuss this subject matter in detail in Episode 62 of the Comic Book Revolution Podcast.
For the purposes of this article, we will consider possible motivations for DiDio’s firing to include:
- The New 52 and its failure and causing readers to abandon DC Comics and creating poor sales numbers.
- Continued sales problems post-Rebirth.
- The upcoming 5G Initiative possibly ringing too similar to the New 52 and Marvel’s All New All Different which were both sales failures.
- DiDio’s history of being combative and hostile with co-workers and creating a negative culture at DC Comics.
The purpose of this article is to focus on the future and examine potential candidates to replace Dan Didio. There are some names that may be up for the position based on their current positions at DC Comics. There are a few names being thrown about the internet that seem to be longshots. Then there is one name that seems to be the most logical choice. Let’s go through them all!
Might as well start right at the top. Jim Lee is still the Co-Publisher of DC Comics. Lee is also the Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics. This is an additional role that he gained on June 11, 2018.
With DiDio now fired the logical first person to look at is Lee. It certainly is possible that AT&T may decide to simply allow Jim Lee to continue on as the sole Publisher of DC Comics. This would provide for the easiest and most seamless transition. Lee also is not as combative as DiDio and has a better relationship with fans and DC’s talent.
On the other hand, if AT&T is blaming DiDio for the shedding of readers and the poor sales numbers over at DC Comics stemming from the New 52 then would it make sense for Lee to be picked to the sole Publisher? As Co-Publisher, Lee certainly played a role in the ill-fated New 52. Prior to that, Lee was also one of the creative forces behind the failure known as Heroes Reborn. Further, Lee also signed off on the 5G Initiative. Lee’s track record may not inspire AT&T’s confidence.
If AT&T is looking to revitalize DC Comics and increase sales numbers and avoid mistakes like the New 52 then making Jim Lee the sole Publisher makes little sense. Much of DC’s failures over the past decade can fall on Lee’s shoulders as much as they do on DiDio’s shoulders.
Verdict: Possible. It really depends on how much AT&T thinks Lee plays a role in DC’s current problems. Lee is well-liked by his contemporaries. Lee has a good reputation, too. It all depends if Lee could assume DiDio’s duties in addition to all the other things that Lee does for DC.
On September 27, 2010, DC Comics hired Bob Harras as their Editor-in-Chief and Vice President. This would make Harras the next in line for the promotion to Co-Publisher. Again, this would make for an easy and seamless transition. There is also no doubting Harras’ experience in the industry.
However, promoting Harras to the role of Co-Publisher presents the same problems that Lee would present. Harras cannot avoid the stain of the failure of the New 52. Harras cannot avoid the stigma of DC turning away so many readers and the continued low sales numbers. Harras is also attached to the upcoming 5G Initiative. For all of these reasons, it makes little sense for AT&T to promote Harras if their goal is to shake things up and go in a different direction at DC Comics.
Verdict: Possible. Again, much like Lee, it all depends on how much AT&T thinks Harras has played a role in DC’s problems. Harras is also the same age as 61-year-old DiDio. It is possible that AT&T might want to go younger at that position. Now, if Harras was offered the job then I would certainly expect him to take it.
Grant Morrison is a name that has been mentioned online as a possible target as DiDio’s replacement. Now, to be clear, there is no bigger fan of Grant Morrison than yours truly. I adore Morrison and have bought everything he has ever written. I love his style and enjoy his unique view of the DC Universe.
Having said that, I would never hire Grant Morrison to replace DiDio. Morrison is brilliant, but also a bit crazy with some of his ideas. Morrison’s high concept stories can be fun, but when unchecked they can quickly go off the rails. Morrison is better suited when operating under adult supervision. Morrison is also a creative type who may not be well suited for the position of Publisher.
Verdict: Unlikely. Morrison is 60 years old. AT&T may be looking to go younger in whoever they hire to replace 61-year-old DiDio. Also, I do not think Morrison would want the job.
Brian Bendis is another name that has been talked about on the internet. There are numerous reasons why it would make zero sense for AT&T to hire Bendis to replace DiDio. First, Bendis is not a DC guy. I do think it is important that AT&T hires someone who truly loves DC Comics. I think it is vital that DiDio’s replacement clearly understands DC Comics’ DNA and who they are and what makes them unique and different from other publishers like Marvel. I think DiDio’s replacement needs to love DC’s continuity and be willing to wrap his arms around DC’s glorious history. For all of these reasons, Bendis would be a terrible choice as DiDio’s replacement.
Second, Bendis lacks the necessary long-range vision and world-building skills that are vital for a comic book publisher of a shared universe. The position of Publisher requires a person to be organized, possess strong research skills, impressive knowledge of continuity, be able to manage a massive amount of characters and storylines, and have the long-range vision of the future of the shared universe that contains all of these characters and stories. None of this would suite Bendis at all. Bendis is well known for poor research skills, poor continuity work, limited world-building skills, and he struggles mightily when handling more than a small number of characters and a limited number of stories. For all of these additional reasons, Bendis would be a bad choice as DiDio’s replacement.
Third, Bendis’ DC titles have posted unimpressive sales numbers. If AT&T is concerned about DC’s sales numbers then I am not sure they would want to hire a writer who is getting pedestrian sales numbers to be their publisher.
Verdict: Unlikely. I just do not see AT&T believing that Brian Bendis is the right man for the job. I do think that Bendis would take the job if it was offered to him. Bendis’ best days as a top writer are clearly far behind him. It has been a long time since Bendis has dominated the sales charts. As Bendis eases through his 50s he may view being a publisher as the natural evolution of his career.
Okay, this one is a completely crazy suggestion that will certainly never happen. But, I am willing to discuss why Jonathan Hickman could make for a good publisher. Yes, Hickman, like Bendis, is not a DC guy. And that definitely counts against Hickman. However, Hickman’s strengths make up for this defect.
Hickman is widely known for his nearly unparalleled world-building skills, research, long-range vision, and impressive knowledge of continuity. Hickman could certainly handle coordinating all of DC’s titles and making sure all the stories mesh together properly in DC’s shared universe. Hickman is also a stickler for the most minute details. Hickman also has a logical analytical mind with a high comic book IQ.
Hickman definitely possesses all the traits that a comic book company would want in their publisher. Hickman is also a big name whose work posts big sales numbers. AT&T will certainly like a publisher who has dominated the sales charts in the past and is still dominating them in the current market.
Verdict: Highly Unlikely. The odds of AT&T poaching a Marvel writer to replace DiDio is probably next to zero. And I am not sure if Hickman would even want the job.
This is an intriguing possibility. Scott Snyder delivers all of the strengths that I mentioned above that Hickman brings to the table. But, the big difference is that Snyder is absolutely a DC guy. Snyder is wildly passionate about the DCU and he clearly adores and loves the characters and DC’s illustrious continuity.
Snyder also brings with him the credibility of continually posting huge sales numbers. AT&T is sure to love the fact that Snyder’s titles post big sales numbers and that Snyder obviously knows what it takes to make a financially successful and popular title.
Furthermore, Snyder has demonstrated with his work on the Metal big event and on Justice League that he is capable of handling massive big event stories covering all corners of the DCU all while juggling a large cast of characters. Snyder certainly has the abilities in terms of long-range vision, world-building, research, knowledge of DC’s continuity, and attention to detail that would allow him to properly guide the overall direction of the DCU. Like Hickman, Snyder also boasts a high comic book IQ.
On top of all of this, Snyder is an unabashed fan of the superhero genre. Snyder has shown great love and affection for the superhero genre and never apologizes for it. Snyder understands that superhero comics are first and foremost supposed to be fun and exciting entertainment. DC needs a leader who adores both the DCU and the superhero genre to lead them into the future.
Verdict: Possible. Snyder brings to the table all of the ingredients that AT&T would desire in the role of publisher. The only sticking point for AT&T is that Snyder has no experience as an editor or in management. I am unsure if that would scare AT&T away from making an offer to Snyder. I do believe that Snyder would seriously consider the offer if it was made to him.
Peter Tomasi is the perfect package. Tomasi started his career at DC Comics in 1993 as an editor. Tomasi worked on titles ranging from Green Lantern, the Batman titles, Aquaman, Hawkman, and JSA. In 2003, Tomasi was promoted to Senior Editor. In 2007, Tomasi pulled an interesting career move and became a full-time writer for DC Comics.
Tomasi offers AT&T his experience of being an editor for DC Comics for 14 years and as a writer for DC Comics for 13 years. That is a hell of a resume. There are few people out there with the combination of years as an editor and a writer that Tomasi brings to the table. Not only that, Tomasi has been a successful and popular writer. Tomasi knows the ins and outs of the entire DC Comics organization.
Another plus about Tomasi is that he is a DC guy to his core. Tomasi clearly has a deep love and passion for the DCU. Tomasi also has an excellent long-range vision and impressive knowledge of DC’s continuity. Tomasi also enjoys a good reputation in the industry.
Verdict: Possible. Few candidates are going to be able to offer what Tomasi can offer. AT&T may love Tomasi’s history of being an editor for DC as well as being a writer. The only thing that might prevent AT&T from promoting Tomasi would be if AT&T wanted to hire a big splashy name. Most of the other candidates on this list are bigger names in the industry and would generate more buzz.
When you think DC Comics only one name comes to mind: Geoff Johns. Since 2000, Geoff Johns has been DC Comics. No writer has done more for DC comics over the past twenty years than Johns. Johns has been DC’s top writer for the past two decades.
Johns was also elevated to Chief Creative Officer in 2010. Johns was then given the additional title of President in addition to being Chief Creative Officer from 2016 to 2018. In June 2018, Johns left both the President and Chief Creative Officer positions. Johns then started Mad Ghost Productions and focused on writing and producing film and television based on DC Comics properties.
There is no other writer over the past twenty years who can match Johns’ continued domination of the sales charts. To this day, when Johns writes a comic book it crushes the sales charts. If AT&T is looking to turn around DC’s flagging sales then Johns would be an excellent choice. Johns clearly knows what makes a comic book popular and a big seller.
Johns also is a DC guy to his core. I cannot think of another candidate who would be considered more of a DC guy than Johns. Like Hickman and Snyder, Johns is a master world-builder. Johns possesses an uncanny long-range vision. Johns knows how to juggle massive amounts of characters and numerous complex storylines. Johns has handled numerous big events for DC Comics. Johns was also behind the Rebirth initiative which led to DC Comics pulling readers back in who had left during the New 52. There is zero doubt that Johns possess all of the necessary ingredients to be the Publisher of DC Comics and shepherd all of the DC titles in their shared universe.
Johns is also extremely passionate about both the DCU and the superhero genre. Johns fully understands and embraces DC Comics’ identity and core DNA. More than that, Johns is unequivocally proud of DC’s identity and core traits. Under Johns, DC would never spend time running away from who they are or spend time trying to be more like another company. AT&T would be getting a true evangelist for DC Comics with Johns. Johns is also widely well regarded by his peers and is loved by the fans.
Verdict: Likely. This is the guy. Period. If I was the CEO of AT&T then I would have my sights clearly set on Geoff Johns and no one else. Would Johns take the job? I definitely think so.
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