The Two Sides of Monsieur DiDio

Dan DiDio is out at DC, so it's time look back at his time in charge.

Film producer Robert Evans once said, “There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth,” and that idea is one I’ve long been fascinated with. It makes sense, right? As clean as we always want everything to be, it’s rarely just that: clean. Life is complicated, and because of that, so are the situations we find ourselves in. The high-profile people of this world are even more burdened by this premise. Their visibility makes it difficult to really know them at all.

For that reason, they’re often simplified into two variants of Evans’ formula: the things we don’t like about them and the things we do. That’s certainly true for former DC Comics co-Publisher Dan DiDio, who departed the publishing giant after a nearly 18 year run this past Friday for as yet unknown reasons. Quickly, his plusses and minuses were weighed in public, almost as if he had died rather than been let go from a job. 21

DiDio’s sides were well-known, of course. There was the part people didn’t like, the one known for being obsessed with publishing grim comics, for pushing against beloved characters, for battling with people he disagreed with.

And then there was his other side which came out as well. Dan DiDio the advocate, the lover of comics, the supporter of often forgotten characters and outside-the-box ideas. If you toured comics Twitter this past Friday, you would have found every variety of opinion about the man, often said without even identifying who the subject was. It wasn’t difficult to determine who people were talking about. Upon his dismissal, DiDio became the conversation, for better or worse.

While many have focused on what will happen next at DC in the wake of DiDio’s departure, anything I could say about that would purely be conjecture. 22 But what I can do is explore DiDio’s time there and try to find that third side, the one where the truth of his run lies. While it’d be easier to wave my hands and say, “he was a menace!” or “he was a mensch!” the reality is likely somewhere in-between, as Evans might have noted. So today, I’m going to weigh those two sides of the equation to find what lies in the middle, examining Dan DiDio’s time as co-Publisher of DC Comics to see how he affected the publisher and its fate along the way.

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  1. There was a wild “thoughts and prayers” like vibe on Comics Twitter on Friday.

  2. The simplest answer seems to be his co-Publisher Jim Lee would just become Publisher, but when have DC-related decisions been simple?

  3. So this won’t even include his time the rare Triple Crisis the company hit in the Aughts, a rather significant run of darkness in of itself. DiDio was there for that as well.

  4. Nice!

  5. Not nice!

  6. He’s also a character who has rapidly reached metaphor status for the DC line, and who very well may be my least favorite character ever.

  7. Down to his occasionally exclusionary interpersonal tactics.

  8. It also feels on brand that DiDio was chill about a title called “Terror Titans” and not about the one called “Teen Titans.”

  9. Who suffered a bullet wound to the head, which bizarrely led to a personality shift and him taking on the identity of “Ric Grayson.” Even as someone who likes the character, I have to admit, that’s pretty funny.

  10. Who, with the upcoming Generation Zero, is being turned into a dude who rides around in Metron’s Mobius Chair which has been infused with Doctor Manhattan’s…essence? I don’t know. I find this less funny.

  11. With all book market data taken from Brian Hibbs’ Bookscan reports at The Beat.

  12. As well as the early days of the success of the DC Super Hero Girls, amongst other things.

  13. At least as far as the long tail numbers go, meaning the numbers for all books sold in the book market rather than just the cream of the crop.

  14. Hibbs’ goes into this phenomenon at greater depth in his Bookscan write-up.

  15. Thus, the need for Rebirth.

  16. But don’t call it 5G!

  17. Which since have been absorbed into their new age bands, but let’s not even mess with that right now.

  18. And don’t we know it, because Nightwing fans were peacocking like you wouldn’t believe on Friday.

  19. Quick note: From a reader standpoint, I’m reading fewer main line DC titles than I have since I got back into reading comics.

  20. Please god.

  21. There was a wild “thoughts and prayers” like vibe on Comics Twitter on Friday.

  22. The simplest answer seems to be his co-Publisher Jim Lee would just become Publisher, but when have DC-related decisions been simple.