Whether it’s the success of Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” or the recent announcement of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s “Harley Quinn”, DC Comics had a lot to discuss during this year’s Comic-Con International 2013. In order to shed some light on this year’s slate of new and recent projects, DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee made the trip to the CBR Yacht to speak with CBR’s producer and editor-in-chief Jonah Weiland, discussing everything from “Harley Quinn” to the status of Superman’s underwear.
On the success of “Man of Steel” and how it affects the direction of Superman: “We work months in advance, so we weren’t trying to synchronize with what they were doing in the movie in the movie tonality-wise or story-wise,” said Lee. “At the end of the day, ‘Superman Unchained’ is Scott Snyder’s ‘If you had one chance to tell a Superman story, what would you do?’ And he made some wonderful foils for Superman to interact with, like Wraith, and he brought Lex Luthor and General Lane — they all serve the purpose of pushing Superman’s buttons, and you get a clear picture of who the New 52 Superman is through these interactions. When I look at the success of ‘Man of Steel’ and the things we’re doing in publishing, it speaks to how awesome the character is and all the different ways you can take him creatively.”
“Honestly, I see what they did in ‘Man of Steel’ and I see they did some great things, but I also see a lot of things that resonate in the books up until that point,” said DiDio. “Again, we reinvigorated Superman with the launch of the New 52, but prior to that, you had things like the John Byrne Superman and during that storyline, he executes three people. Again, there’s no surprises there. If you look at the very end of [‘Man of Steel,’] what do you see in the final three scenes? You see a man that wants to be trusted and wants to work with people, you see a man that still has the sense of family values and wants to do right by his father and wants that level of respect; and you want to see someone who’s going to be part of society and try to live that double life to try and find ways to reach out and help as many people as possible, so there are some very pure conceits of Superman that haven’t changed.”
On the divisive nature of Superman’s “underwear”: “Yeah, there was a story we were going to do: ‘Commando Superman,'” DiDio said, laughing. “We were going to address the issue head-on, and therefore we decided to stay away from it. No, but honestly, we never think about bringing it back because there’s no reason to. When we launched the New 52, we had a very clear conceit to contemporize the character and the interpretation of the character. When Jim was designing some of the characters, the thought and the challenge was to look as though they were created today, not 75 years ago. That look fits 75 years ago, but if you created it today, nobody would design a character with that kind of look for any kind of costuming. Therefore, the character works for today, but the cores of the character are the same for today, which are timeless.”
On Harley Quinn and the reaction to her upcoming series: “It’s interesting because, you know, we do a lot of analysis and characterization and what’s breaking in media,” DiDio said. “There’s a real dark streak in television right now and storytelling in the world and there’s a real amoral sense that villains are being embraced as the heroes of the pieces. Realistically when we looked around what’s going on in the media and what’s going on in the tone, Harley Quinn really captures that flavor, really captures that feel. It’s an interesting character, there’s something likable about her, something amoral about her, there’s something dangerous about her. I think in some ways, she’s the ultimate representation of rebellion against authority and really speaks to the people themselves.”
“I think she’s also just a fun character,” said Lee. “Everything is so serious and grim and gritty and everyone takes themselves so seriously. Having a character that plays with the audience, breaks the fourth wall on occasion. Also, it’s a female character. You don’t see a lot of female characters, especially villains, rise to prominence. I would say she’s one of the top five villains in the Batman pantheon of rogues gallery. I think that’s it. It’s a fun character to cosplay, I see her cosplayed quite a bit. … It’s kind of a post-modern superhero. It’s a generation beyond all the stuff we grew up on. In a way, it’s playing on the tropes and turning it on its head.”
On the nature of the upcoming Damian Wayne series: “It’s a kickass story written and drawn by Andy Kubert,” said Lee. “I know there are people that are way into continuity, but the answer for me is, if it’s an awesome story, we should be publishing it. When I grew up, ‘Dark Knight Returns’ came out. It didn’t ruin the story for me that it was out of continuity. To me, it’s a great story unto itself. It’s a great Damian story. It’s got fantastic writing, fantastic art. He’s so passionate about the story that it shows on every single page.”
On the 3D Motion Covers for Villains Month: “It’s a roller coaster. We saw this process over a year ago and it’s something that really captured our attention,” said DiDio. “It’s an expensive process. We saw a lot of potential in this and this seemed like the right venue. We decided to go out and produce these covers. The trick is that it was only done on a very small scale before and now we’ve increased it exponentially. They’ve never been producing this many covers before. They’ve never tried to do the process to this size before and the amount of problems we’ve incurred during the whole process has been spectacular. As I said, there was a point where I described it as the infamous scene in ‘Apollo 13’ where they’re trying to figure out how these guys are able to survive. We’re literally figuring out these problems on the go.”