May's "DC Universe: Rebirth" one-shot written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis ended with a major revelation that helped propel DC Comics into its current "Rebirth" publishing era: That the ultra-powerful Dr. Manhattan of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal "Watchmen" series was responsible for 2011's "New 52" continuity shift by stealing five years of history for an unknown reason, and that the Comedian's smiley face button -- the most iconic piece of "Watchmen" imagery -- had somehow made its way into the Batcave.
That was both a major surprise -- despite residing under the same corporate ownership, there had never even been hints of interaction between the world of "Watchmen" and the DC Universe before -- and a controversial move, given the vocal disdain that Moore has had for any subsequent "Watchmen"-related projects. Early "Rebirth" comics -- namely "The Flash" and "Titans" -- have included some follow-up to the development, but it was said from the start that it'll likely be a while before the story is fully explored. According to DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee at Comic-Con International in San Diego last week, they're waiting to tell that story the right way.
"When we went out and we set up Rebirth, we set up a two-year story," DiDio told CBR News during an interview at DC's booth on the Comic-Con floor. "A lot of the questions that are out there will be answered during that two-year plan. The goal is not to answer every question in the beginning, but to roll things out and continue to excite people all the way through. You'll see a lot of twists and turns coming out over the next year or so that will get you to, hopefully, where you want to be."
As Lee told it, despite being introduced in the "DC Universe: Rebirth" one-shot, "Watchmen" seeping into the DCU is effectively separate from the stated main goal of the Rebirth relaunch, which is getting DC's core superheroes back to more engaging and recognizable depictions.
"It's not like the success of Rebirth or the whole creative positioning of Rebirth swings off the revelation of that meeting, or the hint of the meeting," Lee told CBR. "It's almost independent of what Geoff did in the Rebirth special. In a sense, you don't have that ticking clock of, 'What is behind all these teases?' The books really have gone back to the core conceits of the characters, and constructed the most idealized versions of these characters and their continuities moving forward. That gives us the time to do Geoff's story right."
"Time to do Geoff's story right" certainly suggests that Johns himself will be the writer to finish the story he set up in the "Rebirth" one-shot. That likely also gives some insight into timing, as the writer/DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer has said that, due to his increasingly busy schedule -- including, as widely reported, a leadership role with DC Films -- the "Rebirth" one-shot will be the last comic book he'll write for the foreseeable future.
This past weekend at Comic-Con, Johns told fans during a Rebirth-focused panel that the one-shot would be his last comic "for a while." "I've never been nervous about a comic book coming out before, but I was nervous for this one," Johns told the crowd.
Keep reading CBR for more from DiDio and Lee on DC Comics' present and future.