Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Five Suggestions for the Next Wave of The New 52

So, I was reading on-line today that it was a year ago pretty much today that DC announced the line wide reboot that is now known as "The New 52." I have found a lot of books to really enjoy amongst the titles that were rebooted/recreated, from the expected (Batman, Batgirl, Justice League, Aquaman) to the unexpected (Demon Knights, Batwing). But as we've just seen with the cancellation of six titles and the introduction of six more, this little project of DC's is going to be a little free form, with books coming and going. So here are five suggestions of some titles I'd like to see.

The Elongated Man and Sue

If some changes can be made to continuity, how about this  resurrection here, huh? The (what I thought was awesome) idea of Ralph and Sue Dibny as ghost detective was never really explored, so how about just bring them back from the dead? Ralph and Sue have probably the best marriage in all of comics. The Dibny’s have a dynamic that is pretty much undeniable. And since the only married hero left in the DCU is Aquaman, this would give the title something else that would make it stand out.

What would I like the book to be? Well, I think it should be just plain fun. One of the main concerns people have had about the New 52 has been that most of the titles are dour and intense. This one would be a wild, world tour of mystery and action.  I think each issue should be a one off mystery, and I think it should be a play fair mystery, where you can play along with Ralph and try to solve the case. Mike W. Barr did something similar with the legendary and much lamented Maze Agency, and I think he’d be great to write this book. But most of all, I want it to be a book equally about both of the lead characters, hence both of them being in the title. Sue can serve as Ralph’s crime fighting partner, or possibly as a social activist, and some of the adventures they get involved in are because of what she’s doing. And without getting maudlin, I want the book to show the two of them as a loving, functional married couple.

 Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.

I read the original Stars and STRIPE series, enjoyed it, and hugely enjoyed watching Courtney Whitmore evolve from the kinda bratty kid who became a super hero to annoy her stepdad into the senior member of the JSA’s younger generation. With the lack of a JSA in DCnU, this leaves Courtney in limbo, and I think that should be remedied. And this is how.

Courtney’s origin remains pretty much unchanged. She has grown into one of the world’s premiere teen heroes, Stargirl, having mentored with Pat Dugan, her stepfather in his S.T.R.I.P.E. armor. They have been defenders of Blue Valley, Nebraska and a lot of the Midwest, and have learned to respect each other’s abilities. But when Stargirl’s arch nemesis, Shiv, and Shiv’s malevolent father, the Dragon King, made a recent assault on Blue Valley, Pat was injured, and decided to hang up his armor. Courtney continued to fight crime on her own, until one day she saw… S.T.R.I.P.E. Junior? Mike Dugan, Courtney’s stepbrother, has built himself a set of armor and has decided to take up the family business, whether his parents and his sister like it or not. The Dugan’s tell him he can, but only if Courtney will mentor him. Now Courtney has a junior partner who resents her, an arch nemesis still looking to kill her, and her SATs and junior prom only two months away. What is a super-heroine to do?


I continue on with Cancelled Comics Cavalcade with a title that many feel like got the short end of the stick the first time through. If Chase had come out five years later, during a time when Powers and Gotham Central were both running, the story of DEO agent Cameron Chase investigating metahumans would have possibly been the huge hit it deserved to be. And since there have been some paired New 52 titles, like Animal Man and Swamp Thing, this is the first of two titles that will have ties to each other. We've seen Cameron Chase appear in Batwoman, but there she has been mostly Batwoman's tough DEO handler; her own title would show more aspects of the character.

Chase would be a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This would be a book about an investigator who doesn’t like superheroes having to investigate them and work with them. Cam has her own secret too: that she has the superpower to disrupt the powers of those around her. Working directly under Mr. Bones, current director of field operations for the Department of Extranormal Operations, Chase is his prized agent, the one he sends into the most dangerous and convoluted situations. Her identity is a secret, as is her job, from nearly everyone. But lately, something has been going wrong. Cam feels like she’s being watched all the time. Could one of the metavillains, or heroes, she’s dealt with discovered her identity? The book would also feature occasional appearances by Dylan Battles, Chase’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, and his boss…


Kate Spencer is still Kate Spencer. She’s still the tough as nails attorney who goes out under the cover of night as Manhunter to fight those who escape justice. She still has connections with Cameron Chase, Director Bones, Dylan Battles, Damon Matthews, her family, and all the rest of the Manhunter supporting cast. The one thing I would change from the previous Manhunter formula would be a little more courtroom action that doesn’t end in a brawl. Nearly every major case that Kate tried in her original series ended with the supervillain making some Machiavellian escape attempt and Kate having to make a quick change to fight him as Manhunter. I’d like to see some real legal wrangling. 

I would also (sadly in many ways) have Kate leave her job as Gotham’s DA, and instead be a federal prosecutor in Washington DC, serving as a specialist in metacrimes. She has, of course, brought all of her usual chums with her, and this would allow regular swapping of casts between Chase and Manhunter. Criminals caught in Chase could be tried in Manhunter. Without her background as a legacy character, there would have to be changes made to her family's past, btu her ex-husband and son could still be prominent, and Damon could be another established gay character in the DC stable to be out and about, and possible introduce Obsidian with a new, Alan Scott-less background. But the whole point of the book would be to see the new DC universe from a different angle.

New Characters

I was shocked to see that, with 52 (now 58) titles, there is not a single one starring a new character. There are new variations on a theme (Batwing), there are new characters carrying old names (OMAC, the new Sgt. Rock, the new Dial H), but not a single book starring a brand new character. And don’t tell me there are no new ideas under the sun, because just perusing the racks of indies, I can tell you there are. DC has a wealth of great creators, and wouldn’t it be fun to see them go to town? A bunch of the books I talk about here were completely new ideas when they started, and at least a couple of the new titles are based off of new concepts that appeared in the last, say, twenty years (Grifter, Voodoo, and  Resurrection Man), and new ideas are what really is the lifeblood of the industry. I know that a title with a new character is more likely to fail, but still, where would the legends be if we didn’t try them out?

1 comment:

Mark Kuhn said...

I agree. A Manhunter book would be great and I would like to see Booster Gold get his own book as well.