For good or for ill, there’s no arguing that DC Comics New 52 has shaken things up since its inception more than two years ago. The publisher’s flagship series including “Batman” and “Justice League” have thrived, while critical darlings like “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing” have found their niche and filled it well. Meanwhile, books like “Legion of Super-Heroes,” “Teen Titans” and “Stormwatch” have stumbled a bit in the reinvention process, some more than others.
Love it or hate it, the New 52 reinvigorated sales and interest for the publisher, and it’s safe to assume it isn’t going away any time soon. And why should it? Though some titles have had a rougher time acclimating to the new universe than others, there are still plenty of characters who have yet to make their presence known. Even some series that were around at the start only to be cancelled are just in need of finding the right combination of the new and the classic in order to be successful in today’s market. CBR looks at some of the characters and titles that would be a great fit for the DCU’s brave new world, adding to the texture and diversity that DC Comics has embraced over the decades.
A Question with a new origin has popped up as part of the Trinity of Sin in the New DCU, but fans miss the heck out of the old school Zen warrior they fell in love with in Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan’s “Question” run from back in the day. There is no reason a modern day Question cannot be magic based — it’s actually kind of cool having the legacy of the Question exist as part of the mystic foundation of the DC Universe. The idea of a mystic detective sounds like just the reboot the character needs to keep his noir roots intact while presenting a New 52 twist on the character. With the return of Ted Kord in the pages of the “Justice League,” it sounds like the timing is perfect for a refocus on some of DC’s Charlton classics. While it’s already been revealed that the new Question isn’t Renee Montoya, the possibility still exists that it could be Vic Sage, the first man to pick up the mantle. Whether Sage or a new character, a two-fisted crime-buster or a supernatural being, it’s time for a new generation of fans to experience just how cool The Question truly is.
The New Gods
It’s been a long time since DC published an ongoing “New Gods” book, and there are many questions regarding New Genesis and Apokolips’ place in the New 52. Although Orion has been a major part of Brian Azzarello’s fantastic “Wonder Woman” series and Darkseid was the villain that caused the Justice League’s origin, the New 52 saga of the New Gods has yet to be told. Elements of Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” have shown up in the New 52, but a fully realized debut of the modern New Gods has the potential for exciting storytelling opportunities in many of DC’s currently published ongoings. The tale of the New Gods could help further the element of world-building mythology and continue filling in the blanks of history in a post-“Flashpoint” universe. We have been teased with Darkseid, Parademons and Mother Box, along with Steppenwolf and Mister Miracle over in “Earth 2,” but giving the full pantheon of New Gods the series treatment could be one of the most exciting concepts yet.
The existence of the Doom Patrol has been teased in the pages of “Teen Titans,” “The Ravagers” and — most recently — “Forever Evil,” making it high time that DC pulls the trigger on some kind of series featuring the team. Fans have witnessed the 52 version of Beast Boy, Robotman and Niles Caulder, but appearances from Negative Man, Elasti-Girl, Mento, Crazy Jane and the rest of the oddities that have proudly been part of the Doom Patrol would be welcome additions to DC’s new universe. During its history, “Doom Patrol” was an experimental title from the early Silver Age adventures of the team to Grant Morrison’s surreal masterpiece of the late ’80s, inspiring creators to reach the pinnacle of their creativity. If DC wants to continue going beyond the same old thing for the New 52, continuing the creative tradition of “Doom Patrol” is a great place to start. After all, the DC Universe is a wonderfully strange and unexpected place — and it might need some heroes to match.
With the Black Canary’s recent exposure on The CW’s “Arrow,” the time is right for DC to take advantage of the character’s newfound popularity with her own title. Although she headlines “Birds of Prey” and had a featured role in the short-lived “Team 7,” Dinah’s New 52 origin is simplified and awesome. The New 52 Black Canary is equal parts former secret agent and super-hero, making her perfect for a black ops-driven title in the same vein as “Velvet” or “Black Widow.” And given that Jeff Lemire’s current “Green Arrow” ongoing has taken elements from “Arrow” to great success, Dinah’s connection with Slade Wilson could serve as a huge advantage in hooking new readers. The time is right for DC use Black Canary’s multimedia exposure to help build her into a bigger part of the DC Universe.
Like Dinah, Slade Wilson has been a prominent figure on “Arrow.” DC tried in the recent past to make Deathstroke a viable solo star in the New 52, but the series was cancelled less than a year after its first issue. That said, Deathstroke has the potential be a prominent DC character under the right creative team; he’s a morally ambiguous super assassin with a dark past and ties to many of DC’s most popular icons. Whether it’s his current “Arrow” incarnation with Oliver Queen or his pre-“Flashpoint” roots as the primary adversary to the Teen Titans, Slade Wilson is a complex individual and his motivations and history are complex enough that he needs his own title informed by the incredible performance of “Arrow’s” Manu Bennett. Slade could be DC’s immoral Nick Fury or serve as an evergreen menace to the entire DC Universe.
Legion of Super Heroes
The lack of a monthly “Legion” book truly boggles the nerd mind. A team of superheroes from a thousand years in the future who serve as guardians of a utopian tomorrow has been one of the more enduring concepts in DC’s long history, originally debuting in 1958. Countless pages of world-building and character creation have gone into “Legion” over the decades, and now it’s completely absent from DC’s publishing slate. The future of the DC Universe seems to be a hot button issue with the upcoming weekly book “Futures End,” an invigorated focus on the world of “Batman Beyond” and “Justice League 3000” (which effectively took the place of “Legion” in DC’s schedule), but there is no true future for DC without the Legion, whose very existence serves as a constant reminder of the impact and legacy of Superman to the future. Without the Legion, DC is not only poorer a single super-team, but dozens of characters whose presence makes the DC Universe a richer place, one filled with the promise of a better tomorrow. While typically more of a cult-favorite than a top-seller, over the decades the Legion’s quirky spirit and colorful mythology has attracted loyal fans, inspired an animated series and sparked classic stories like “The Great Darkness Saga.” DC certainly gave it the old college try with two “Legion” books debuting as part of the initial New 52 relaunch, but a concept like “The Legion” deserves as many chances as it needs to stick, because without it, the future of DC does not look as bright.
DC’s “Dark” titles have been a success for the publisher since the reboot, as has their “Batman” family of titles. Combining the two and creating a magic-based Bat title could be a recipe for further success. Bringing the original Azrael, Jean Paul Valley, into the New 52 to forge his own legacy separate from the Dark Knight would certainly be an intriguing story, one that also has the potential to bring Azrael into the pages of “Justice League Dark,” or cast him as Gotham City’s lone protector against supernatural evil. With “Animal Man” set to conclude in March, there’s a void to fill for a supernatural protagonist with the right creative team. Why not Azrael?
New Teen Titans
DC’s first attempt at a rebooted “Teen Titans” had a decently lengthy run, but with Scott Lobdell’s series coming to a close, it might be time for a new direction. History repeating itself wouldn’t be so bad here, given that the last time “Teen Titans” turned into “New Teen Titans,” Marv Wolfman and George Perez completely reinvented the team, bringing a family dynamic and a whole new cast of characters to the table. With Wally West returning soon in the pages of “The Flash,” most of the players of the original “New Teen Titans” team are now front and center in the New 52 — heck, Geoff Johns rebooted “Teen Titans” to critical success in 2004. Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy, Robin, Kid Flash, Roy Harper and Cyborg are due for a reunion, and what better way to reunite them than their own title?
The cancellation of “Teen Titans” leaves us asking, what does the future hold for Tim, Cassie, Conner and the new characters introduced in Lobdell’s run? If the Titans return to their “New Teen Titans” roots, why not return the younger heroes to their “Young Justice” roots? Peter David’s “Young Justice” run informed years of DC history, from Geoff Johns’ “Teen Titans” to the late and cancelled-too-soon “Young Justice” animated series. David laid a solid foundation for DC’s teen heroes, and it might be time to rekindle the title to further the adventures of the rebooted Red Robin, Wonder Girl and Superboy. A New 52 “Young Justice” series could further the connection between the core group of young heroes and their adult counterparts. Heck, the new Wonder Girl has existed for almost three years with nary a connection to Wonder Woman. A new “Young Justice” title has to potential to recreate the sense of legacy that has been so greatly missed since the reboot.
The DCU’s hard and fast rule seems to be that no super-hero publicly existed until the Justice League fought Darkseid. Making Superman and the League the first costumed heroes could work in theory, but it does rob the DC Universe of an element of history. If there are no World War II super heroes, and if characters like Jay Garrick and Alan Scott headline the alternate universe “Earth 2,” then who was there to fight the Nazi menace? In the original DC Universe, it was the JSA — so, what about a JSA made up of Sgt. Rock, the Losers, the Unknown Soldier, Mademoiselle Marie, Enemy Ace or even Frankenstein? A group of (mostly) non-powered heroes going up against Hitler’s legions could be genre gold, a war book that feeds into the modern heroic age. Instead of looking up to the costumed mystery men of the old JSA, wouldn’t it be cool if the modern Justice League took their inspiration from the fighting men of Easy Company and the rest of the courageous men of war? Although the New 52’s “Men of War” was cancelled, bringing the war concept back for a team book that has further relevance to the DC Universe could have untapped potential.
It’s amazing that one of DC’s most marketable characters is also their most evil. It’s almost impossible to create a “Joker” comic given the impossible challenge of crafting a story around a force of nature. The Joker cannot be a point of view, central character because there is nothing human or relatable about him, but a solid crime comic with a cop or even a crook experiencing the world of the Joker could be gold for DC — much like Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s acclaimed “Joker” graphic novel. A comic about the consequences of living in a world where the Joker exists, like a villainous “Gotham Central,” would certainly be a fresh concept. And with the villain-centric “Forever Evil,” the time seems right to go to press. “Harley Quinn” topped the charts for DC recently — imagine what a Joker-centric title could do.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on DC Comics and the New 52.