Reboot Wishlist: 9 Comics We Want To See From the New DC
If there’s one thing comic book readers like to do, it’s talk about what they’d do if they were in charge, and I’m not going to lie to you, folks: We here at ComicsAlliance are no exception. Sure, we try to keep it to ourselves, but with DC slowly rolling out their new titles for September’s line-wide relaunch, we can’t help but speculate.
Admittedly, they’ve covered a their bases pretty well with genre-bending super-hero horror titles like Swamp Thing and the hilariously named Justice League Almond Dark, perennial second-stringers like Hawk & Dove and Hawkman, and even sparkly Twilight nonsense with the return of I, Vampire, but there’s still plenty room for more. That’s why today, I’m stepping in to play Armchair Editor with nine comics I’d like to see from DC’s relaunch!
#9. Blue Beetle
This one’s probably at the top of a lot of people’s lists of relaunched comics they’d like to see, and there’s a handful of good reasons for it. For one thing, in a DC Universe that’s meant to reflect a more modern, diverse America, then a young Latino character starring in his own self-titled series is a pretty big deal.
For another, if this is really going to be a fresh start and jumping on point to attract new readers (and get old readers up to speed with the all-new status quo), then Jaime Reyes is absolutely perfect as a viewpoint character. Not only is he a kid that’s experiencing a lot of the DC Universe first-hand, but he’s a kid that likes super-heroes. The fact that he’s already the sort of kid who reads comics makes him immediately identifiable to kids who are actually reading comics. Throw in the fact that he comes pre-packaged with a chatty alien Scarab, a storytelling device that allows him to explain what’s going on and who people are from his point of view, and you’ve got the ideal window to get people familiar with the new DC.
Third, and most importantly when it comes to attracting new readers, there’s the fact that the Batman: Brave and the Bold animated series (and to a lesser extent, one goofy episode of Smallville) has made a wider audience, especially kids, familiar with Blue Beetle. He should be on the stands for people to see when they come in looking for comics as the gateway to a wider universe.
UPDATE: This one’s actually happening.
Speaking of teenage super-heroes, it’s already been established that the Teen Titans is where the super-heroes’ sidekicks go to be heroes in their own right, but what about the others? What college is scouting the two halves of Firestorm? Where does a character like Shining Knight, a young girl transported to the modern day from a primeval Camelot, go to learn how to operate in the world of tomorrow?
The answer: D.C. University. Start with the teenage super-hero team formula, throw in a healthy dose of Harry Potter with a strange, mysterious school where they learn extraordinary things — something the DC Universe already has with Ivy University — and mix in faculty members like Physics professor Ryan Choi, History professor Jason Blood, Literature professor Helena Bertinelli and ol’ Rex Mason pulling double duty by teaching Archaeology and Chemistry, and you’re set. Throw in some school-based mysteries (like just who’s running the show and what is it that they’re training these kids for) and an appearance by RA Jimmy Olsen, and you’ve got yourself a solid ensemble book.
#7. Wild Dog
I’m not going to lie, you guys: I love the hell out of Wild Dog, for the simple reason that he’s DC’s version of the Punisher.
And I don’t just mean that he’s a gun-toting vigilante who kills criminals — or in his case, the many, many terrorists plaguing Iowa — although he certainly is that. He’s everything that comes along with being a DC Comics character, from his kooky origin in a series where readers had to guess which character he was to a “costume” of a football jersey with a laughing dog for his logo.
The problem — if Wild Dog even has a problem — is that this has never been taken to its logical conclusion. How does a hard-edged killer out for vengeance against terrorists deal with a world where most terrorism is committed by jetpack gorillas or robots from space? That’s a question that needs to be answered in the most over-the-top, Die-Hard-in-the-DCU way possible, and Wild Dog’s just the guy to do it.
#6. Suicide Squad
I’ve mentioned my affection for John Ostrander’s long-running Suicide Squad series before, but it really is one of the great genius ideas for a super-hero universe. You want to do a book for more mature readers that deals with the hard-edged killers, moral gray areas and atmosphere of paranoid distrust that just don’t work in titles like Superman, but you still want to draw on the elements of a super-hero universe to tell adventure stories? Well, here’s a book about super-criminals being sent to their deaths at the behest of the government. Go nuts.
And even better, it’s the perfect book for a grand tour of a fresh DC Universe. Much like the
’80s version of the Squad was formed not too long after Crisis on Infinite Earths had restructured the universe, the clean slate of a reboot is the perfect opportunity for a book like Squad to reestablish locations, characters and evil major plot points in order to (re)build the universe. And c’mon, who doesn’t love The Dirty Dozen?
UPDATE: DC loves the Dirty Dozen, that’s who! This one’s happening too.
#5. Metamorpho: The Element Man
There’s no real big reason for this one, I just really like Metamorpho. I mean, c’mon: A guy who can teach kids about chemistry while also fighting two-foot-tall alien conquerors with a gun that shoots laser beams? Blue blazes, how is DC ever not publishing that book?
#4. World’s Finest
I’m of the mind that there should always be a book where Superman and Batman hang out together and bro down to do some crime-fighting. The contrast in their style and their abilities powers, and even their attitude towards each other make for a dynamic team, both visually and in terms of storytelling. More than anything else, this should be the Big Action book, one any fan should be able to pick up and enjoy every single month.
And apparently somebody at DC agrees with me on that front: Recent months have seen some great work coming through in Superman/Batman, from Cullen Bunn and Chriscross’s “Sorcerer Kings” arc to Chris Roberson and Jesus Merino’s two-issue time-travel epic. That’s exactly the kind of thing that should be happening, and the only problem is the name. Sure, “Superman/Batman” might be a better blunt descriptor, but World’s Finest? That’s got history and over-the-top superlatives on its side. Plus, it’s a title that allows you to bring in other characters from the Superman and Batman families, from Robin and Jimmy Olsen to Supergirl and Batgirl to Lois Lane and Alfred!
Yeah, that’s right: Lois Lane and Alfred.
#3. The Brave and the Bold
Sure, I’ve already mentioned a Batman team-up book directly above, but c’mon. This is me we’re talking about. You’re lucky I just didn’t make a list of every single DC comic that’s coming out and add the words “Batman and” to the title.
Really, though, this is another one that just makes sense. Not only does the existence of the Brave and the Bold cartoon show us that there are plenty of people interested in Batman team-up stories, but the simple fact is that there’s never going to be enough room on the stands for DC to put out books about every great character in their library. Much as I want there to be a fresh issue of Metal Men and Swing With Scooter on the rack every month, it’s not very likely.
And that’s why books like Brave and the Bold — and Marvel Team-Up — exist. You take the company’s most popular character to draw in readers, then team him up with lesser-known characters that deserve a shot at the spotlight to get people interested in them. It’s elegant in its simplicity!
I’d even go so far as to say that each issue should be a stand-alone story, but in his run on the title, Mark Waid proved that you could do a series of one-issue team-ups that built a larger arc. That’s the way to do it.
#2. Wonder Woman: Princess of the Amazons
I’ve gone on the record a few times as being a guy who flat out does not like Wonder Woman, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see her value as DC’s most recognizable female character — and probably the most recognizable super-heroine in all of comics. In fact, it’s that very mainstream presence that I think leads to one of her biggest problems. A friend of mine has a six-year-old daughter, and when she saw Wonder Woman on Justice League and wanted to read more about her, he asked my friends and I if we could recommend any recent stories. And we couldn’t, because instead, there were a bunch of comics about Wonder Woman snapping a dude’s neck or, more recently, bashing people’s faces in so hard that it left a big W from her bracelets.
Here are the facts, folks: Wonder Woman is a super-powered magical princess that can talk to animals. The fact that there’s not a kid-friendly book out there based on that concept is probably the most ludicrous thing about comics, especially when the manga market, even after its initial boom, has proven there’s a market for exactly that kind of story. So if it was up to me, that’s exactly what I’d provide: Stories of a young Diana, Princess of Paradise Island, earning her gods-given powers in the years before she came from Themyscira to Earth, done as an all-ages adventure book.
If that sounds a little like Thor: The Mighty Avenger, it’s because that’s exactly the sort of book I’d want: one that combines mythology, action, adventure and romance in equal measure. The only difference is, rather than allowing readers to dismiss it for being — and I’m loath to even use this term — “non-canon,” I’d head ‘em off by making it Wonder Woman’s actual, official origin, running alongside the core title in the same way that Man of Steel ran alongside Superman and Action. After all, there’s no rule that says “fun” and “relevant” have to be mutually exclusive.
#1. The Manhattan Guardian
Finally, we have the series I want more than any other: Manhattan Guardian.
If the point of this entire reboot is to compete with Marvel — and it is, the announcement in USA Today said as much when it pointed out that DC’s been in second place for almost a decade — then why not go all out with it? All of the Seven Soldiers characters are great (and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is finally coming out after five years of waiting), but with the Manhattan Guardian, Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart essentially created a Marvel character for the DC Universe.
I mean, look at the guy: He’s inspired by the work of Jack Kirby, he has a Marvel-style alliterative name (Jake Jordan!), he’s trying to make up for a mistake from his past, and he lives and operates in New York City. Except that it’s a New York that’s overshadowed by Gotham City and Metropolis, and so when we’re introduced to it, it’s tricked out with seventy years of repressed comic-book stylings, from the pirates of the subways to an army of Newsboys that don’t just report on crime, they fight it! As the in-house populist super-hero for a modern newspaper, he’s even got the perfect excuse to be sent into any kind of conflict, and even to rub shoulders with folks like Clark Kent.
It’s insane that we haven’t been reading about this guy for years already. Instead, we got yet another reversion to — I kid you not — a clone of the original Guardian whose only update to the existing character was that he had long hair and wore a tank top. And that‘s a mistake that would be first on my list of things to fix.
And just so we’re clear on this? I am totally available to write any of these stories.
UPDATE From The “I Told You So” Dept: A few hours after this article went up, DC announced that both Suicide Squad and Blue Beetle will be part of the relaunch. I’m happy to see I’m not the only one who thinks having those titles around just makes sense.