With the recent announcement of a DC Comics streaming service, there’s a lot of unknown quantities to take into account. All we know so far is the service, launching at an as-yet-undetermined point in the future, will feature the once passed over “Titans” series by Greg Berlanti and the long overdue third season of “Young Justice.” Nothing else, not even a price point has been made available.
It would be easy to just say this is good enough and go about our day. But DC, though currently excelling with their Berlanti-driven “Arrowverse” and FOX’s “Gotham,” has proven they tend to make bad choices when left to their own devices (“Jonah Hex,” anyone?). With that in mind, here are 15 properties DC should probably avoid putting on the new streaming service.
15. ANGEL AND THE APE
You’ve almost certainly heard of “Angel and the Ape,” which is odd. Collectively, about 15 issues exist of the property. Maybe it’s the absurd nature of the concept? The series focus on Angel O’Day, a private investigator with her partner Sam Simeon, a comic book artist who is also a talking gorilla. The series underwent a number of revivals, including one that establishes Sam as the grandson of Flash villain Gorilla Grodd and a Vertigo revival by Howard Chaykin and David Tishman in 2001.
The idea of “Angel and the Ape” is obviously beloved despite its short run but just doesn’t feel like the DC property we need on the new network. The idea might be a bit too far-fetched for the average viewer, and as we’ve learned from “The Flash,” you have to go to a lot of trouble to do a talking gorilla justice on TV. “Angel and the Ape” is still a great property that deserves some love, but TV just isn’t where it belongs right now.
14. CAPTAIN CARROT
There was a time when comics featuring animals were all the rage, be it in their own wacky adventures of emulating heroes. One of the last of DC’s foray into this was “Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!,” a short-lived series that’s enjoyed a surprising amount of mainstream success among later comic fans. Captain Carrot never got a proper revival, but the characters have shown up from time to time, most recently turning up in the Rebirth-era “Superman” Multiplicity.
Why not do a “Captain Carrot” series then? It seems easy fodder, given the character’s perplexing lasting power, fondly remembered by fans even in 2017, 35 years after his debut. But the absurdity of these characters never went over well. It’s unlikely we’ll see the series regardless, as the contracts drawn up for the characters have led to a number of problems pertaining to rights and royalties in recent years, but that might just be for the best.
Bat-Mite has been an oddly regular character in the Batman family. The New 52 even had a “Bat-Mite” ongoing for a few issues, and he played a notable role in Grant Morrison’s “Batman: R.I.P.,” where it was implied Bat-Mite had been a by-product of Bruce’s mental defenses all along. With hit cutesy nature and whimsy, there’s always been a place for fans with this odd fifth dimension imp.
But the stories can only go so far, and a Bat-Mite television show would be a mistake. Imagine the outcome of a streaming service which only had “Bat-Mite” as its sole Batman outlet? With DC’s popular Dark Knight likely restricted to the film universe, it’s unlikely we’ll get anything outside of the odd reference to the character on “Titans” or his animated appearances on “Young Justice.” Bat-Mite as a character is fine for the odd one-off appearance, but passing on a Bat-Mite TV series sounds like the right way to go.
When “Xer0” debuted in 1997, it had all the trappings of a sleeper classic. Written and created by Christopher Priest and ChrisCross, Xer0 was a “closer” (an assassin who tied up loose ends relating to espionage missions) who, over the course of the story, was beginning to develop a conscience. The twist comes in that Xer0’s civilian identity, Coltrane Walker, is a prominent African-American basketball player. To protect his identity under the Xer0 mask, Coltrane wears a second mask to make himself appears to be a blonde-haired, blue-eyed caucasian man.
In all honesty, “Xer0” isn’t bad. It’s competently written, and there’s clearly a lot of love put into it. The idea as a whole, though, is perhaps a bit too high concept, which might explain why it was canceled a year later due to low sales. “Xer0” never really interacted with the DC Universe as a whole, and because Priest owns partial rights the character has never turned up again. A “Xer0” resurgence might not be a bad thing, especially in a post-“Get Out” world, but a run on DC’s streaming TV service feels like it would be.
11. FIRESTORM, THE NUCLEAR MAN
Let’s make no bones about it: the casting for Firestorm in the Arrowverse is spectacular. Victor Garber is a versatile actor with more than enough credibility as the tenacious Martin Stein, and Franz Drameh’s Jefferson Jackson is a well-written and wonderfully executed new character. Even Robbie Amell’s brief turns as Ronnie Raymond were great turns. Firestorm has always been a bit of a C-lister, but “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow” made him more popular than he has been in years.
But let’s also make no bones about the character, either: Firestorm isn’t much of a solo hero. There have been excellent runs for sure: 2004’s volume by Dan Jolley and ChrisCross comes to mind. But Firestorm has always worked better in a team setting, largely because the character’s powers basically amount to him solving all the problems relatively quickly. A “Firestorm: The Nuclear Man” solo series could be fun, but for now the character feels better suited to explore the ravages of time with the Legends.
10. SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN
Mehcad Brooks is a bit wasted on “Supergirl.” He was fine in the first season, but with season two he was saddled with reduced screen time and shoved into the role of Guardian after his romance with Kara was abruptly dropped. It might be tempting to take Brooks and have him headline a show on DC’s streaming service, and a book like “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen” does still carry a bit of name recognition.
But there’s really only two outcomes here, and neither are good. Either it’s a standard fare drama with Jimmy Olsen in it while the rest of the DCU wanders around in the background, or it’ll be a throwback to the true insanity of “Superman’s Pal.” Jimmy had a number of successful adventures during the series, including becoming the infamous Elastic Lad, but he also became a human porcupine and swapped brains with a gorilla. There’s a whole world of DC stories to adapt, and Jimmy’s solo adventures might be better left on the comic pages.
Steel has long been once of DC’s mainstay characters. Debuting following “The Death of Superman,” John Henry Irons donned a suit of high-tech armor and a massive hammer. “Steel” ran for a healthy 52 issues, and the character is a well-respected member of the Superman family with appearances on “Superman: The Animated Series” and a Shaquille O’Neil film vehicle that is probably better left forgotten. More recently, John Henry has turned up in The New 52, making allusions to Steel but remaining largely a background player after his initial debut.
Would a “Steel” series be good? Probably. The character is compelling and interesting. But as we learned from the Shaq iteration, what makes “Steel” great is its relation to the Superman mythos. John Henry Irons becomes a hero in his own right, absolutely, and he becomes someone worthy of his own legacy, not just Superman’s. But without that initial jolt that comes from trying to emulate and become a new Superman, it just isn’t the same.
8. INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US
There have been a number of awful DC comics games over the years, but fans finally struck gold when NetherRealm Studios released “Injustice: Gods Among Us” in 2013. Set primarily in an alternate universe occupied by a Superman-led regime, the game pit hero against hero in a fighting game that set the stage for an entire multimedia blitz. Tom Taylor’s “Injustice” comic has proven to be a treat for fans, with an engaging story serving as the set-up for the game.
So why not adapt it as a television show? The answer is it’s a waste of these properties. Batman and Superman haven’t had a proper show of their own in years (barring Superman’s occasional appearance on “Supergirl”), and several of Injustice’s important but lesser-known characters are tied up in the Arrowverse. Trying to arrange this story would be a mess, and seeing your favorite heroes beating each other up for their first live action appearances is kind of a drag. An “Injustice” series would be cool, but maybe give this one a few more years.
Doctor Fate has long been a DC Comics regular. Wearing the Helmet of Fate, numerous men and women have been the avatar of the spirit of Nabu, aiding the Justice Society of America and the DC Universe at large with a host of mystical problems. One such Fate, however, didn’t wear the helmet, instead succumbing to another case of being forced to become extreme in the 90s.
Dubbed only “Fate,” Jared Stevens is a mercenary hired by the previous Doctor Fates, Kent and Izra Nelson, to recover the helmet, cloak, and amulet from a tomb. The Nelsons are murdered upon Stevens return, and the amulet explodes, granting him magical powers and creating an ankh-shaped scar over his eye. Stevens wore the cloak as a guard for his damaged arm and melted the helmet down into various throwing knives and daggers. Needless to say, “Fate” didn’t last terribly long, and when “JSA” was rebooted under David S. Goyer and James Robinson in 1999, Stevens was killed in the very first issue to make way for the classic Fate to return.
6. RICHARD DRAGON, KUNG-FU FIGHTER
You’d be forgiven if you’d never heard of Richard Dragon. Stemming from the ’70s kung-fu craze, “Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter” only ran for 18 issues before it was canceled. Since then, Richard Dragon has existed in the periphery of the DC Universe. Pre-Flashpoint, he’s credited as a martial arts guru, responsible for training the likes of Shiva, Oracle, The Question, The Huntress and more. Post-Flashpoint, a character claiming to be Richard Dragon appears, but the real Dragon is possibly dead.
A Richard Dragon series runs into the same problems we’re seeing right now with Marvel’s “Iron Fist.” The kung-fu properties of the ’70s are great fun but translate poorly for modern adaptations. Richard Dragon is absolutely a notable DC character, and live action appearances from him would be fun. But much like Iron Fist works better when paired with a working foil, Richard Dragon works better as the DC Universe’s martial arts guru hiding in the background.
5. EXTREME JUSTICE
The Justice League has gone through a number of iterations over the years, but not all of them were good. During the ’90s, everything had to be extreme, edgy and or cool. Splitting from the Justice League of America following the events of the event “Judgment Day,” members of the League were disillusioned and split off from the core team. Refusing UN sanctions and setting up shop at the abandoned military base Mount Thunder, Captain Atom led a more proactive Justice League.
With a roster consisting of Booster Gold (wearing a bulky suit of armor to replace his damaged future tech and compensate for an arm he lost during “Judgment Day), Blue Beetle, Maxima, Amazing Man, Firestorm and Plastique, “Extreme Justice” is really most notable for introducing a version of the Wonder Twins into the DC Universe, though they didn’t last long. “Extreme Justice” lasted a mere 18 issues, ending the summer of 1996 as DC pared down its “Justice League” titles to make way for Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s outstanding “JLA.”
DC’s 1993 event “Bloodlines” is an odd one. A race of parasitic aliens who feed off spinal fluid arrives on Earth. Most who are fed on die, but a small percentage of these victims gain super powers instead. The result was 27 annuals, each introducing a new hero for better or for worse. Mostly worse, as the majority of the new heroes were pretty much gone within a year. One such hero, debuting in “Deathstroke” Annual #2, was Gunfire.
Gifted with the ability to agitate the molecules of an object and explode it outward like bullets, Gunfire is perhaps the most ’90s concept you’ve ever come across. The character was lucky enough to get his own ongoing, though it only lasted for 13 issues and made several sporadic cameos. His most notable, however, is an issue of “Hitman,” itself spinning out of the “Bloodlines” event. In “Hitman” #1,000,000, Tommy encounters a future hero who has gained Gunfire’s powers by wearing his goggles. Unfortunately, the future Gunfire is an idiot and he dies after turning his, er, posterior into a hand grenade.
3. BEFORE WATCHMEN
“Watchmen” is absolutely a classic. The brainchild of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the 12-issue series is a revolutionary piece of comic book history that went from being comics’ little gem to a media powerhouse with the Zack Snyder-helmed film adaptation in 2009. Whether or not “Watchmen” is a good film is up for debate, though the general consensus seems to be that it’s the best one could do adapting such a dense, plot-heavy film. Several years later, DC went back to the well with “Before Watchmen,” a prequel event consisting of various mini-series.
It is obviously tempting to cash in on both the “Watchmen” brand and the continued involvement of Zack Snyder in the DC Expanded Universe. While “Before Watchmen” was fairly well-regarded, thanks in part to stellar creative teams including the late, great Darwyn Cooke. And yet, “Watchmen” itself was always a story that felt so important because of its finality. There’s still rumors of a “Watchmen” TV adaptation in the works, but hopefully, DC just leaves this one be.
2. ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN
Frank Miller created some of comics’ greatest stories, including the seminal classic “The Dark Knight Returns.” Jim Lee has been one of comics’ hottest artists for years, including his 2003 run on “Batman.” Two of comics’ top creators, working on one of their most iconic characters, still managed to make a Batman story almost universally criticized for absurd, over the top writing. “All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder” is, perhaps, the strangest blip on the resume of either man.
Batman is cruel and childlike, coming across as downright petulant. Dick Grayson is portrayed as something of a snobby brat. The series is iconic for all the wrong reasons, including Batman and Robin sitting in a room painted yellow and drinking lemonade to taunt Green Lantern and Batman’s infamous “I’m the godd*mn Batman!” line. It’s almost inevitable that some variation of Batman will turn up on DC’s streaming service, but hopefully, it’s not this one.
1. LOIS & CLARK REVIVAL
If you were a ’90s kid, Dean Cain might have been your Superman. An updated take on the character, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” was a really popular series for the time, thanks to fun writing and great performances. Also starring Teri Hatcher and the late Lane Smith, the series regularly held modest ratings and garnered positive success, but found itself canceled after four years due to declining ratings. Frustratingly, the series ended on something of a cliffhanger, as Lois and Clark found an abandoned baby on their doorstep with a note saying the child belonged to them.
With all the money and success revivals of “Full House” and “Gilmore Girls” have garnered, could “Lois & Clark” come to the streaming service? We certainly hope not. “Lois & Clark” was a fantastic show, but it definitely shows its age. And while Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher never strayed far from the universe (both now having roles on The CW’s “Supergirl”), the thought of either trying to reprise these characters is a touch cringe-inducing. We love “Lois & Clark” for what it is — a time capsule of a post-Byrne era “Superman,” warts and all. If DC is smart, they’ll let it stay that way.
Got a DC property you don’t want to see brought to life? Let us know in the comments!
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