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If I (once again) ran the zoo – 52 DC titles I would totally buy

by  in Comic News Comment

Some years ago (on the old blog!), I wrote a post about what I would do if I ran DC Comics. Now that they’re doing a “soft” reboot (none of that hard-core stuff around DC – they’re a family company!), I thought I would do what Bully and Bill Reed (among others, I’m sure) have done, but with a tiny bit more gravity (Bill didn’t want to waste your time on this blog with fripperies, but I have no such reservations). “More gravity” means I’m giving the creative teams I want to see as well as the books! Let’s get to it!

1. Action Comics.
Writer: Any writer, really, as long as someone stands over them and yells constantly, “The word ‘ACTION’ is right there in the title, so Superman better punch something every three or four pages or so!” Maybe this is the perfect comic for Malachai Nicolle?
Artist: Sal Abbinanti would kill on a Superman comic.

2. Apollo and Midnighter.
Writer: Beau Smith.
Artist: Kev Walker.
If DC had any stones at all, they would make Batman and Superman a couple, but that’s okay. Basically, this series features two dudes beating the crap out of bad guys. Some romance may be involved. I don’t know how Smith would do with the romance stuff, but I would love to see him write this comic.

3. Aquaman.
Writer/Artist: Frank Espinosa.
He’s literally King Arthur. Espinosa would have a blast with that.

4. Bat-Family.
Writers and Artists: TBD.
Every Bat-character stars in this anthology series that remains $2.99 for 20 pages. Each issue will feature two separate 10-page stories (or even shorter, but no longer!), either single issue tales or serials. The characters are Robin (Tim Drake), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Batgirl (Stephanie Brown), Huntress (Helena Bertinelli), Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Renee Montoya (she’s no longer the Question), Mackenzie Bock, Sarah Essen (no longer dead and no longer married to Jim Gordon), Maggie Sawyer, and any other Bat-related characters you want to name.

5. Batman.
Writer: Doug Moench.
Artist: Kelley Jones.
This is mainly because I want them to finish their run from the 1990s. After that, they should cancel the book. As an added bonus, it would make T.’s head explode.

6. Batman, Inc.
Writer: Grant “Just let them try to reboot me!” Morrison.
Artist: Chris Burnham.
Why fuck with it?

7. Batwoman.
Writer/Artist: J. H. Williams III.
We’ve only been waiting on it for two years or so.

8. Bay City Jive.
Writer: John Layman.
Artist: Steve Mannion.
While Mannion works on more Fearless Dawn, he could make some coin drawing Layman’s funky detective series, starring Sugah Rollins. Layman could set this in 1970s San Francisco or he could make it contemporary, but it would still be pretty great.

9. Black Bat.
Writer/Artist: Matt Kindt.
Cassandra Cain is a top-secret spy, doing the work her wussy mentor, Batman, doesn’t have the onions to do. So she travels the world doing all sorts of nasty work. No killing, obviously, but she can hang a dude off a building like nobody’s business! Kindt would be amazing on a comic like this.

10. Black Condor.
Writer: Jeff Lemire.
Artist: Greg Tocchini.
I don’t know if the third Black Condor is supposed to be an Indian or not, but I would like him to be. He would travel the country fighting bad guys and solving crimes that have to do with Natives. One thing that a smart writer would do is show that some tribes don’t want him around, as this would get into the fact that Indians are not, in fact, a monolithic bunch. I’m not sure if Lemire would want to draw this, but if he did, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Tocchini would do well on it, though.

11. Blue Beetle.
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller.
Artist: Emma Rios.
Jaime Reyes goes off to college and discovers that you probably shouldn’t drink with an alien attached to your spine (or wherever the hell that thing is attached to him). He has many misadventures while trying to keep his identity secret and still attend class. Miller has shown he can write a light-hearted book, and Rios is pretty danged good. Plus, this book could cross over with the other college-level book below.

12. Captain Fear.
Writer/Artist: Jeremy Bastian.
Mainly so Bastian can do a ridiculously detailed, crazy-as-shit pirate comic and get paid for it, rather than not getting paid for it, like he is now.

13. Catwoman.
Writer: Joshua Dysart.
Artist: Milo Manara.
Dysart would be a good writer for the continuing noir adventures of everyone’s favorite bad girl, and as for Manara … well, if DC wants to embrace Selina’s sexiness, EMBRACE HER MOTHERFUCKING SEXINESS!!!!! This is for “mature readers,” naturally.

14. Chase.
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov.
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque.
Why not give Cameron Chase another series? Fialkov is a good writer to explore some of the darker corners of the DCU, while Albuquerque can do both a bit edgier art and superhero stuff.

15. Detective Comics.
Writer: Scott Snyder.
Artist: Jock and Francesco Francavilla.
I have no clue why DC would want this team off the book. I can’t imagine Snyder is done telling Batman stories, and the art team is phenomenal.

16. Dr. Fate and Anna Fortune. [The Mutt suggested a better title: Fate & Fortune. So it shall be!]
Writer: Chris Roberson.
Artist: Nicola Scott.
While researching this post (yes, I did research), I discovered Anna Fortune, and I think having her and Dr. Fate team up (I don’t care who Dr. Fate is, but if it’s Kent Nelson, we’ll just have to ignore Inza, ‘k?) would make a nifty little romance/mystical adventure comic. Roberson has been doing wacky cosmic stuff well on Starborn, and Scott can just flat-out draw. So there!

17. E. Nigma, P.I.
Writer: ME!
Artist: Joëlle Jones.
Okay, here’s the deal. I have one (1) Batman story to tell, and it’s not even a Batman story, it’s a Riddler story. Ever since Paul Dini brilliantly turned Edward Nigma into a consulting detective (which Tony Daniel may have retconned, but Tony Daniel won’t be working in my new DCU, so I can change him back), I’ve been thinking about one story in which he and Batman lock horns. So I’ll write this, and Jones will dominate on the art. After that, I think Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis can do a fine job with the Riddler’s Detective Agency.

18. El Diablo.
Writer: Jason Aaron.
Artist: Sergio Cariello.
This would be Rafael Sandoval, the second iteration of the character (the one from the 1980s series by Gerard Jones and Mike Parobeck). He’s a politician by day and a vigilante by night in a Texas border town! He must deal both with crime and the tense situation between the U. S. and Mexico over illegal immigration! It’s all “realistic” and shit! Yes, Aaron and Cariello are both working on Westerns (well, I guess Cariello just finished his), but that’s okay – they’d still be good on this book!

19. Estrogina and the Zamoran Pirates.
Writers: Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis.
Artist: Kevin Maguire.
Giffen and DeMatteis created Estrogina during their Booster Gold run, and I wrote then that I’d love to see her in an ongoing. Then they revealed she’s a pirate captain and the prospect of an ongoing got even awesomer. Plus, you know, Maguire.

20. The Fugitive.
Writer: Kathyn Immonen.
Artist: Mahmud Asrar.
My idea for this is that in the first issue, a woman’s family is killed by a battle between Superman and some bad guy. So she swears vengeance on both the bad guy and Superman and spends the series trying to figure out how to kill them both. Yes, she’s the hero, but she’s also a bit unhinged. Anyway, this would be a kind of “outsider’s” view of the DCU, and it would allow Asrar to draw a lot of different heroes as she encounters them. I know the series will end whenever she confronts Superman (and, of course, fails), but it could last a few years or so.

21. Global Guardians.
Writer: John Ostrander.
Artist: Ian Hosfeld.
Ostrander is good at superheroes from around the world, so this would be right up his alley. He used several of these characters in Suicide Squad and The Spectre, as well. This would be a blend of superhero stuff and espionage, because Ostrander can do both! Fire would be the team leader. Because Fire is awesome. Shut up, she totally is. Other than that, Ostrander could use the various international DC heroes at his discretion. Hosfeld proved a few years ago on The Circle that he could draw very well, and he could handle both the superhero stuff and the spy stuff. Well, I think he could.

22. Green Lantern.
Writer: Joe Casey.
Artist: Tom Scioli.
Two rules: It’s John Stewart (Hal’s dead again) and the comic never comes anywhere near the Earth.

23. Grifter.
Writer: B. Clay Moore.
Artist: Ming Doyle.
Has Grifter done any actual grifting in his past? I would imagine Grifter in this book as a combination con artist/gun for hire, whichever works in the situation. Moore would be good at that, and Doyle is fantastic. (To be honest, Edmondson and CAFU on the “real” Grifter series sounds pretty cool. But this is my goddamned sandbox, consarnit!)

24. The Hawks.
Writer: Gail Simone.
Artist: Juan Ferreyra.
It’s just Katar and Shayera, two married Thanagarians exiled to Earth and kicking ass. I know Ostrander did the series years ago, but Simone could make it work, too. Ferreyra’s involvement needs no explanation, because he’s awesome.

25. International Marriage of Mystery. [Rob Schmidt suggested this title. I like it a bit better than The Mutt’s, because his includes the personal pronoun “I,” and I’m not sure who the “I” is. Ralph and Sue are totally equal partners in this venture.]
Writer: Landry Q. Walker.
Artist: Eric Jones.
Ralph and Sue Dibny travel the world solving crimes. Walker would be a superb writer on this book. Jones is strong, and in the absence of Mike Parobeck, he or Rick Burchett would be the perfect artist for this comic.

26. Justice League.
Writer: Geoff Johns.
Artist: Jim Lee.
Starring: Black Canary, Bombshell, Zatanna, Bulleteer, Wonder Girl, Gypsy, Miss Martian, and Oracle. Let’s see if the Johns and Lee fans can handle an all-female Justice League!

27. Justice Society of America.
Writer: Peter Timony.
Artist: Bobby Timony.
This has to be one of two things: It either takes place entirely in the 1940s and early 1950s and some pulp heroes like the Shadow and Doc Savage are part of the team, or it takes place in the present day and everyone is really old and fighting evil in and around Phoenix because they all live in an Arizona retirement community. Either way, it would be awesome.

28. Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth.
Writer/Artist: James Stokoe.
“Yeah, Mr. Stokoe? We’d like you to write and draw a Kamandi comic. Yeah, do whatever the hell you want.” SOLD!

29. Katana.
Writer: Ron Marz.
Artist: Yanick Paquette. (Seth Fisher is the obvious choice for this, but sadly, he’s drawing wacky shit for God these days.)
Marz does a good job with Japanese stuff for some reason, and this would be set in modern-day Japan and Tatsu wouldn’t wear a costume. She would, however, kick ass.

30. Knight and Squire.
Writer: Paul Cornell.
Artist: Brian Churilla.
I still haven’t read the mini-series (I’m waiting for the trade), but most people seemed to like it (except for Chad Nevett, but I think that’s some residual Canadian anger about the British), so why not let Cornell write an ongoing?

31. Legion of Cancelled Heroes.
Writer: Benito Cereno.
Artist: Les McClaine.
Anyone who is not currently starring in any DC book can show up here. With Cereno and McClaine doing it, you know it will be very funny.

32. Legion of Super-Heroes.
Writer/Artist: Ross Campbell.
Using established characters’s names but not any established continuity or even resemblance to the established characters. Strap in, because things will get weird.

33. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, Crack Reporters.
Writer: Will Pfeifer.
Artist: Jill Thompson.
Lois is still married to Superman, because that’s a good match, but he’s not in this comic at all. Except as Clark Kent. Who shows up occasionally but doesn’t do much. Basically, this is Lois and Jimmy breaking stories across the DCU.

34. Looker.
Writer: Mike W. Barr.
Artist: Alan Davis.
This might have an audience of exactly one (me), but I don’t care. First, Barr retcons the vampire crap, then he and Davis tell tales of the underappreciated Lia Briggs. If the real DC can publish a Mr. Terrific comic, I can bloody well publish a Looker comic, damn it!

35. Manhunter.
Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke.
J’onn J’onzz, in his human guise, solves crimes, using some of his Martian skills. Cooke can either set this book during the 1950s and 1960s or the present day, I don’t care. He’d still rock on the book.

36. Merry, the Girl of 1000 Gimmicks.
Writer: Joe Kelly.
Artist: Dustin Nguyen.
I just find the idea of a teenaged girl fighting crime with the help of a super-utility belt charming. So should you.

37. Milagro Reyes, Green Lantern of Earth.
Writer/Artist: Caanan Grall.
Make Milagro a bit older (teenaged) and give her a power ring. She would totally kick ass. Grall would write and draw the shit out of this, and you’d buy the shit out of it!

38. Multiversity.
Writer: The God of All Comics.
Artists: Frank Quitely, John Cassaday, Cameron Stewart, J. G. Jones, Frazer Irving, Flint Henry, Henry Flint, and Brian Bolland.
I don’t know if it was supposed to be seven or eight issues, but I’d like to see the damned thing.

39. Mr. Miracle and Big Barda.
Writers: Jeff Parker.
Artist: Amanda Conner.
I know they’ve done this before, but Scott Free and Barda trying to live a normal life which keeps getting interrupted by wacky supervillains? Parker could write that in his sleep. Conner could draw that in her sleep. And it would still be better than a lot of what DC and Marvel currently publish!

40. Monikka Wong, Girl Detective.
Writer/Artist: Faith Erin Hicks.
Goth girl (not even a Wikipedia entry for Monikka?) goes to college, mysterious hijinks ensue, she mopes a lot but learns many life lessons. Everybody wins! (And she could cross over with Blue Beetle. Everybody wins again!)

41. Nightsiders.
Writer/Artist: Dylan Meconis.
This is a supernatural investigation team, and I’m not sure who would be on the team. Not John Constantine, certainly. Dr. Thirteen and Traci, presumably. Anyway, they zip around checking out weird shit. That could mean Swamp Thing, of course, but a bunch of other weird crap going on in the DCU. Meconis can write and draw weird shit very well, so why not let her write and draw this?

42. Opal City Law.
Writer: James Robinson.
Artist: Alex Sheikman.
Robinson writes the adventures of the O’Dares in Opal City in this spin-off of Starman (Jack Knight probably shouldn’t appear in the book). I imagine Courtney Whitmore will show up occasionally, and the Shade will be a frequent guest star. Sheikman is a fantastic artist, and given his cool work on Robotika, the Art Deco look of Opal and the slight “Wild-West” feel of this book should fit him well.

42(a). Phonogram.
Writer: Kieron Gillen.
Artist: Jamie McKelvie.
Mostly because I want one of the Big Two to throw money at them so they can write more of the series. Given that they both currently work for Marvel, it will probably be Joey Q, but this is my game, damn it!

43. Power Girl.
Writer/Artist: Erika Moen.
Moen says she’s not much of a writer, but she’s lying. This would be Kara occasionally fighting bad guys but also trying to make it as a single girl in the big city, dealing with both men and women who are obsessed with her breasts and occasionally making really bad lifestyle choices. Hilarity ensues. Not for the kids!

44. Prodigal Retrieval Specialists.
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne.
Artist: Todd Harris.
Thorne and Harris are the creative team behind Prodigal: Egg of First Light, a very good mini-series from last year, and while that came out from Ape Entertainment, why can’t they bring their creation over to DC? The team of Pae Mei Jacinto and Byron Lennox could travel the DCU retrieving strange artifacts and having wacky adventures.

45. Ravager.
Writer: Nathan Edmondson.
Artist: Stephanie Hans.
I kind of like the idea of Deathstroke, but he’s also kind of played out. I think letting his daughter have a turn at a starring role would work well. Edmondson has shown he’s a good writer, and Hans is tremendous.

46. Superman/Batman Adventures.
Writer: Ivan Brandon (the Superman stories) and Christos Gage (the Batman stories).
Artist: Ethan Nicolle (the Superman stories) and Marcus To (the Batman stories).
This title will switch off Superman and Batman stories, with occasional meetings. They’ll be light-hearted kinds of stories, with only one rule: Nobody dies. Ever.

47. Teen Titans.
Writer: Jay Faerber.
Artist: Yildiray Cinar.
Faerber reunites with Cinar, who finished off Noble Causes with him, to write a new version of Teen Titans (which Faerber has written in the past, I know, but this time he’s older and wiser). These Titans, however, are formed from the remnants of various defunct DC groups of the past. So just off the top of my head – Bonfire, Frostbite, Zapatak, Blip, Argus, Lagoon Boy, Cindy Cindy Cindy, Poetry Slam – you know, all the greats who never got their chance! Cinar has gotten better and better since he hooked up with DC, and I’m glad they’re not kicking him to the curb after the reboot. My book is better than the “real” one he’s on, though.

48. Undead Heroes Squad.
Writer: John Layman.
Artist: Rob Guillory.
Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen, and Jason Todd, all dead again, lead a rotating group of zombie superheroes as they defeat bad guys by eating their brains. It’s a comedy!

49. The Underground.
Writer: In a perfect world, I would write this, but let’s go with Greg Rucka.
Artist: John Bivens.
I stole this idea from two different places: 1) This would be Sleeper set in the DCU proper, except with a non-superpowered dude going undercover in a criminal organization; 2) The Question mini-series by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards (still not collected, DC?), in which a criminal organization stages natural disasters to get Superman out of Metropolis so they can steal stuff. I would simply create a criminal organization that hires flashy bad guys to pull ridiculous crimes across the DCU to distract the heroes so they can pull larger jobs. So someone goes undercover to stop them. Things spiral out of control quickly. Rucka would do this justice, and Bivens, whose work I saw in Omega Comics Presents, has a good, gritty style.

50. Vixen.
Writer: John Rogers.
Artist: Des Taylor.
Mari McCabe is a fashion model in her spare time, so I would set this in Los Angeles and make her a model/actress. She’d kick a lot of butt, of course, but she’d also have to deal with the issues in the entertainment industry and being a black woman in said industry. Rogers works in Hollywood, so he’d be good at this sort of thing, and Taylor would probably pay DC to draw this!

51. Weird War Comics.
Writer: Garth Ennis.
Artists: Nathan Fox, Steve Lieber, Alberto Ponticelli, Chris Samnee.
Ennis writes best with a little bit of editorial direction, and he’s great at war comics. He could do Sergeant Rock stories, Haunted Tank stories, Unknown Soldier stories (heck, he’s already done one), Enemy Ace stories (he’s done one of those too), straight-up World War II stories, horror/war stories, or war stories from any other war in history. These artists are all good, with styles that are a bit rough (Fox, Lieber), or proven in war comics (Ponticelli, Samnee).

52. Wonder Woman.
Writer: Greg Pak and Fred van Lente.
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs.
Pak and Van Lente did mythological stuff with The Incredible Hercules and made it work, and they would inject a much-needed sense of humor into Wonder Woman (Simone’s apes didn’t do the trick). Isaacs is awesome. ‘Nuff said!

So there’s my list. You’ll notice that I try to keep plenty of superheroes but also show that DC could easily expand their line more outside of superheroes, and why they don’t is vexing. I also hope I pointed out that there are plenty of female creators who would kick ass on DC comics, and the fact that they seem to think Gail Simone is the only woman capable of doing anything with their characters is astonishing (not to show any disrespect to Simone, who gets better all the time). I also think that DC could do well with diversifying their line – my only problem with this list is that I really don’t have enough black characters, mainly because I don’t know a lot of black DC characters, which is kind of sad (both because I don’t know them and because DC has a lousy track record with them). But DC seems tone deaf in that regard, if the reaction to Ryan Reynolds being cast instead of a black man as John Stewart is any indication. I think I did an okay job showing that DC could easily publish plenty of comics that don’t star white males and they’d still be good comics. I also really wanted to turn the DCU into a truly international place and get the characters into other countries and even out-of-the-ordinary places in this country. Too much of DC takes place in a few (fictional) cities. Branch out, DC!

Anyway, this was fun. I’d do one for Marvel, too, but this one was kind of hard, especially when I had to ignore so many writers, especially, who are already working for DC but shouldn’t be. I’m not too keen on the reboot, but I’m willing to reserve judgment. Most of the creators are ones who already work for DC and don’t inspire me at all, so I don’t know what renumbering will change. DC should go whole hog, in my humble opinion. Of course, I’ve been saying that for years. Maybe one day they’ll listen to me.

Chime in with your own opinions! Rip mine to pieces! We’re all friends here!