Dan DiDio (born October 13, 1959) was DC's Co-Publisher along with Jim Lee, and counterpart to Joe Quesada. Although they started off pretty much the same, as with everything involving the two companies, they eventually drifted in very different directions. While Quesada continues making or approving decisions that piss off an extremely large majority of Marvel fans, DiDio's later changes to the DCU split the fanbase pretty much evenly and he even seems to be undoing his earlier "mistakes", with a hint that this was the intended result all along... that or Geoff Johns is fixing his mistakes.
He's known for being a huge fan of The Silver Age of Comic Books and wanting the DC Universe to resemble the comics he grew up with. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as many fans and creators have a lot of affection for the Silver Age even today, mostly because of how lighthearted and silly it was. However, unlike most creators who try to recapture the spirit or tone of the Silver Age (i.e. Alan Moore’s Supreme), DiDio prefers to simply take everything back to the status quo of The '60s (breaking up marriages, removing supporting casts, replacing Legacy Characters with the originals, etc.) and playing it completely straight and serious.note He’s also known for disliking any form of legacy or history in the DCU (despite that being one of DC's main appeals to fans), favouring Younger and Hipper takes on characters which have been around for over half a century in some cases. He once stated in an interview that he believes it's impossible for a Kid Sidekick to grow up and take up the mantle or forge their own path (despite the fact that many of them did) because they would always be overshadowed by their mentor, and that they therefore "had to" be erased from continuity.
DiDio's own comments (such as claiming that Captain Marvel "doesn't really fit" in the DC Universe—despite decades of doing so) has led people to think that he intentionally wants the DC Universe to be Darker and Edgier. Fans have noticed that under his reign, nearly every member of the humorous version of the Justice League was killed off or reinvented in a darker way. Certainly, Infinite Crisis was a direct play at fans' hopes that the the DC Universe would be less dark afterwards. In 2013, after accusations that Executive Meddling to prevent Batwoman from marrying her lesbian partner was homophobic, he came right out and declared that superheroes are meant to sacrifice any chance of happiness in their lives for heroism.
DiDio has so many people who dislike him that a rumor that he was going to get fired from his position ran like wildfire in 2008, but it turned out to be false. However, DiDio would finally be removed as co-publisher of DC in February 2020note .
His editorial decisions include:
- The breaking up of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon, which was not received well by fans.
- Forcing Geoff Johns to turn Bart Allen, previously Impulse, into the second Kid Flash and seemingly curing him of his ADHD and fun personality. Johns and Bart's creator Mark Waid strongly objected, but were overruled on the matter. Bart's fans strongly dislike this change, and Johns would "reset" Bart back to his Impulse personality, while keeping the Kid Flash codename.
- Editorial interference on Wonder Woman that, along with DiDio giving Rucka's promised Wonder Woman: Earth One project to Grant Morrison, caused Greg Rucka to quit writing for DC in a very public fashion.
- Okaying the return of Kara Zor-El to the mainstream universe on the grounds that Supergirl's backstory had become too confusing—four different Supergirls with increasingly convoluted origins since the death of the original character in 1985—and a simplified version was needed.
- Trying to kill off Dick Grayson in the pages of Infinite Crisis, something Johns outright refused to write, instead offering Conner Kent in his place. In the end, Conner was killed and Dick lived.
- The reinstating of the Multiverse in Infinite Crisis, previously done away with in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- Removing Wally West, the third and arguably most popular The Flash at the time, in order to make Bart Allen the Flash, hiring the writers of the '90s TV series. Fan reception was not positive, and Bart was killed off within 12 issues, with Wally returning right after.
- According to writer Mark Waid, ranting about how the series 52 turned out, and that Countdown to Final Crisis was the way it should have been. One of the few cases where DiDio was flat-out wrong, as 52 was a commercial hit and critical darling while Countdown... wasn't. On the other hand, DiDio may have been referring to the fact that Countdown actually told the story it was supposed to (the quality of said story notwithstanding), whilst 52 ran away with itself and DC was forced to make another miniseries to tell the story they had originally wanted 52 to tell.
- The downplaying of Wally West from the DC Universe, in favor of bringing back his mentor Barry Allen in the pages of Final Crisis. This led to a huge Broken Base within the Flash fanbase.
- The New 52 reboot, a move that garnered positive press at the time and boosted sales tremendously for the company. Basically, only the Silver Age characters and characters created under or close to DiDio's tenure exist, removing popular characters like Wally West, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown and the entire Justice Society within the entire universe, Darker and Edgier trappings, incorporating popular Vertigo concepts and characters into the mainstream DCU (a move that was roundly criticised in the industry) and strongly mishandled editorial interference that led to numerous writers quitting titles (including the Batwoman example mentioned above). As time went on, DC's sales dropped back to pre-New 52 numbers, and the opinion on the New 52 became more unanimous (leaning towards negative), which led to...
- The DC You initiative, meant to reinvigorate the line by revamping characters, costumes and premises. While there were some much beloved titles, the majority of revamps were received extremely negatively, and sales dropped further, leading to DC Rebirth, a Soft Reboot that (mostly) keeps the New 52 canon, but incorporates many elements of the post-Crisis DCU that fans had been missing (Legacy Characters, optimism, and numerous elements of post-Crisis canon). It has been far better received than the New 52, and interestingly uses Geoff Johns as its poster boy and promoter, rather than DiDio. In fact, the DC Universe: Rebirth special that kicked things off has Johns none-too-subtly railing against those who removed "love and legacy" from the DCU, seemingly taking a jab at DiDio and making it clear the New 52 (which Johns wrote the lead-in to) was not Johns' doing.
- Starting the Young Animal line with Gerard Way, an imprint that hearkens back to what Vertigo originally was; an imprint where more mature stories set in the DCU can take place. Revivals of Doom Patrol, Shade, the Changing Man and Cave Carson began, joined by new title Mother Panic. The line has been well-received and is continuing to expand.
- Starting the Dark Matter line, a line that featured new heroes and new takes on pre-existing, obscure heroes such as Damage, with the goals of diversity and stronger writer-artist collaboration in mind.
While primarily an editor, DiDio has done some writing work as well, including the following:
- A run on Superboy (before he became Editor in Chief).
- A number of stories for DC's Christmas and Halloween specials.
- The Metal Men segment of Wednesday Comics and a 2019-2020 limited series starring that team.
- A Weird Western Tales special that tied into Blackest Night.
- A run on The Outsiders.
- O.M.A.C. with Keith Giffen for DC's "The New 52"; one of the first books cancelled from the relaunch.
Before working at DC Comics, Dan was an executive at Mainframe Entertainment, overseeing the third season of Beast Wars, as well as the entirety of Beast Machines, where he told Marv Wolfman (original series outliner) to do as he pleased with Generation 1 continuity, and then told story editors Bob Skir and Marty Isenberg to ignore everything that came before them as "Beast Wars was too continuity-heavy". Between this and the big DCU reboot, one has to wonder just what continuity did to him as a child.
There are rumors that he was fired from Mainframe after selling their rights to Scary Godmother for one Canadian dollar, but the claim is unsourced and is more than likely false.