All 52 of DC’s companywide reboot titles have now launched, and it’s been a wild month. Of the 52 issues, I’ve read about 40 (and I’m not done), and that’s more than enough to know the quality was very uneven. Some were brilliant, others were solid, but more than a few just didn’t work. Since someone else on this site is already going through all the trouble of reviewing the issues for you (and doing a bang-up job), I won’t bother giving you my personal list of favorites. But as I read all these comics, one thing did keep occurring to me: all the characters that were missing. I’m drawn in many ways to the odder corners of the DC Universe, to the characters that are overlooked or pushed to the back in favor of the superstars, and because of that I found myself reading the New 52 and wishing I was seeing a little more.
The number 52 has held special meaning over at DC Comics for a while now, so it makes sense that they’d use it for their reboot. But what about the comics they skipped? There are more than a few other characters in the DC Universe who could have been given their own stand alone titles, both to inject more diversity into the lineup and to just plain make things more interesting. In that spirit, here are 10 more titles DC should consider adding to their lineup.
Author’s Note: There’s a reason I’m talking first person here, OK? This is my list, the titles I’d like to see. I’m not trying to second guess you guys (let’s face it, a lot of you probably have your own blogs where you can speculate about this sort of thing). I’m offering ideas for discussion. If I leave out your favorite obscure character it’s not because I hate them. It’s because this is my little soapbox, and I’m doing my list. So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk comics.
If ever there was a team of oddballs in comics, it’s these guys. Other teams like the X-Men might be metaphors for discrimination, but Doom Patrol is a metaphor for where people who are just plain off might fit in. It’s a team of scarred, distressed and even disturbed people who somehow find their place in a group of other equally scarred people. Their powers only add to their oddness, and they’ve got the quirkiest villains in comics.
I heard tell that Power Girl almost got her own New 52 title, but instead she ended up as a mere analogue girlfriend in Mister Terrific. If that’s true, it’s sad, especially considering the beating DC has taken over its treatment of female characters lately. If they can find their way to writing about her without making her a mere sex object (and with the cleavage, that’s regrettably unlikely), a Power Girl book (or even a Justice Society book with her leading the team) could have real, well…power.
THE PHANTOM STRANGER
It seems like Phantom Stranger would’ve been a perfect fit for the Justice League Dark title, but he was alas left off the team, possibly because he doesn’t really seem like much of a team guy. The cool thing about reboots is that you can take familiar elements and creatively wrap them around new stories ideas. When it comes to The Phantom Stranger, he’s almost a living reboot. His origins, the full extent of his powers and even his motivations are almost always without full explanation, leaving him open for a good storyteller to take him in new and exciting mystic directions.
Great Ten’s leader, August General in Iron, made his way into Justice League International, but somehow that’s not enough. This was a great idea that was never fully explored: a superhero team operating under the rules and restrictions of the Chinese government with a headquarters in the Great Wall of China, and they each have awesomely literal names like Accomplished Perfect Physician, Ghost Fox Killer and Immortal Man-in-Darkness. This is an opportunity to do a big, global comic that has all kinds of political and sociological implications along with it.
I don’t want to hear any whining about copyrights out of anyone. Captain Marvel is one of the oldest superheroes out there, and he’s stood the test of time for a reason. He’s also one of the few guys who can truly challenge Superman, and that has to count for something. Call the book SHAZAM! if you have to, just give the guy a chance to kick ass again.
Huntress has always been one of my favorite Gotham City characters (and no, it’s not just because of the outfit). She’s tough, she’s difficult to tame and she really does do things her way. While she might pop up in Birds of Prey again at some point, she really could do well with her own title. There’s a lot of potential in that character for the right writer, and it’s about time somebody pulled Huntress out of her ’90s comics stigma.
Here’s another character that’s been tagged as a ’90s leftover with nothing else to offer. But Anarky deserves a chance to return. Why? He’s got a cool red cape, for one thing. For another, he’s got a rich background of philosophical and social beliefs to work with, which makes comics denser even when you don’t make the themes direct. For still another, comics can almost always use another antihero.
Raven got left out of the new Teen Titans book for some reason, but hey, why not let her have a chance to shine on her own? It’s another chance to add more female power to the DC Universe (and I know it sounds like a PR move, but it really is something that’s needed), and it gives creators a chance to further explore the angst-laden world of a character with a lot of charisma.
SANDMAN (WESLEY DODDS)
No, not the Neil Gaiman version. The original Sandman is a noirish creature in a gas mask who uses a sleep gun to sedate criminals. If that sounds boring, you haven’t read some of the better stories in his canon (check out some Sandman Mystery Theatre). He had a home at Vertigo for a while, but now’s DC’s chance to bring him back into the main universe with a gritty little comic all his own.
The DC Universe has its own Iron Man, you just don’t see him very often anymore. And it’s a shame. Introduced in the wake of the Death of Superman storyline in the early ’90s, John Henry Irons was a brilliant weapons engineer who nearly died as a bystander who tried to help Superman fight Doomsday. When the Man of Steel passed on, Irons built his own armor and became a literal man of steel himself. Why does he need to come back? Well, for one thing, count the number of black superheroes leading DC books right now. Exactly. For another, he’s a big dude in power armor with a hammer.
Now it’s your turn. Which of your favorite characters has DC left out of the relaunch?