She Has No Head! – Yet Another Pass At A DC 52…
So one of the silver linings to re-launches and re-boots is that it spawns some interesting discussion, and one of my favorite things which is fan and critic “what I would do differently” conversations and columns. On CSBG we saw some really great ones this week (Bill Reed and Greg Burgas’ attempts as well as CSBG reader Travis Pelkie’s Marvel version via Brian Cronin on CSBG). Inspired by these gents own thoughts I decided to jump on the bandwagon for this week’s She Has No Head.
Since this weekend on my personal blog 1979 Semi-Finalist was also “Drunk Cover Solicits In Three Sentences Or Less”, I was inspired to try to do my version – as close as possible – to what a month of my own DC Solicits would look like including images.
What follows is not actually my “perfect comics world”, because in truth, I don’t care about say…Green Lantern (I know, I know, string her up!), so a Green Lantern book probably wouldn’t actually exist in my “perfect world”, however, as I’ve talked about a lot on She Has No Head, there’s little I believe you actually have to change with some of these books to open things up a little bit. So what I decided to do was look at the line and institute the smaller tweaks I’m always saying I think we need to make things more accessible. The following is far less “revolutionary” than someone like Greg’s list (which was awesome and would have me broke as all get out and picking up a massive 30+ of his 52 books) but it’s representative of the smaller changes I think that could really change the readership. My list also has all the flaws of a list created by one person (i.e. it’s full of blindspots and favorites). However, I used a few basic rules to help create my line, they are as follows:
1. Fewer multiple titles per character to eliminate the massive confusion a new reader has when confronted with 28 Wolverine books, or 12 Green Lantern books. There are still a high number of Bat Books on my list, but for the most part they each feature different characters.
2. More diversity in both character and talent whenever possible. I’m sad to say my talent lineup is still very white, which is probably in part due to my own blindspots. I’d love suggestions of great creators of color to help diversify further.
3. A larger variety of “age levels”. More YA (Young Adult) titles to bring in young readers, and especially some strong female focused YA titles since girls read fiction in such high numbers, we should try to get a piece of that pie. A handful of “Mature” titles, to allow the line room to breathe on the other end of the spectrum. Having some “mature” books where darker material can be explored, helps to keep the “Adult” material more reasonable for the 13 and up set. And that’s the rating breakdown I used – YA would be up to age 12, but hopefully “fun for all ages”. Adult would be 13 and up. Mature would be considered 17 and up.
One caveat, before we get to the list. I’m not claiming that my list would be some best-seller that would save all of comics. Quite the contrary, many of my favorite books are low sellers or have been cancelled for being low sellers and “critical darlings”. And kids books, which I think are vitally important to grow the business, are generally considered “loss leaders”. So I’m not making some big play that my line-up would mean big sales, quite the opposite I suspect, especially at first. However, from my seat, we’re dying anyway and a shake up is needed in order to drum up any significant and lasting interest from the rest of the world that doesn’t bother with comics. This doesn’t just mean content of course, it means getting books into more places that non-comics readers actually go; it means advancing digital books and keeping pace with the technology; it means doing more cross promotion that reaches out to non-fans along with fans. But the content has to be there if you actually get them. You’ve got to have something that speaks to them once we get them there. And I just don’t think we have it yet. This would be my attempt to step in that direction…
01. ACTION COMICS #1 (Adult)
Written by: Nick Spencer
Art by: Tonci Zonjic
Cover by: Alex Ross
This is the Superman “family” title – revolving around Metropolis, the Daily Planet and all its related characters. Superman/Clark, Lex, Lois, Jimmy, Perry, Supergirl et al. Pretty traditional for the traditionalists.
02. AQUAMAN #1 (Adult)
Written by: Bryan Q. Miller
Art & Covers by: Alan Davis
This should skew more adventure and fantasy, a bit less toward superhero. He’s king of the sea…have fun!
03. ARKHAM #1 (MATURE)
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Eduardo Risso
Covers by: Dave Johnson
A book about the villains of Gotham based on the theory that your heroes are only as good as your villains. Not necessarily focused on Arkham itself, but you can assume that every lead in the book has spent some time there. Stars a rotating cast that would include the traditional villains like The Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy, as well as newer and less well known villains. From the team that brought us 100 Bullets in the hopes that they can hit gold twice.
04. THE AUTHORITY (Mature)
Written by: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art & Covers by: Bryan Hitch
Bring it back baby. Starring: Jenny Sparks, Apollo, The Midnighter, Swift, Jack Hawskmoor, The Engineer, and The Doctor. Woo!
05. BATMAN #1 (Adult)
Writing, Art & Cover by: Mike Mignola (sure, sure, I know he’s busy, so what?!)
Writing, Art, & Cover by: David Mazzucchelli (okay he’s NEVER going to do it, but still!)
This is the Bruce Wayne Batman title, as it should be. It’s quintessential Batman – i.e. all the best things about superhero comics, and all the best things about detective comics rolled into one. He’s the goddamn Batman people. I know Mignola and Mazzucchelli are busy guys with lots of important non-Batman things to do, but if they alternate arcs, and I give them carte blanche and dump trucks full of money…maybe they’ll do it.
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art & Cover by: Frank Quitely
Alternate Art & Cover arcs by: Frazer Irving
Pretty much exactly what they were doing at the start of Batman & Robin before the wheels came off. It’s still Dick and Damian, and it’s still completely awesome. Quitely and Irving alternate arcs so that nobody gets tired and I never have to see a Tan arc. EVER.
07. BATWOMAN #1 (Adult)
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art & Cover by: J.H. Williams III
Batwoman as it was originally intended, with Rucka and Williams III at the helm, doing what made their Batwoman Elegy story in Detective Comics in 2009 one of my favorite books of all time.
08. BIRDS OF PREY #1 (Adult)
Written by: Gail Simone
Art & Cover by: Cliff Chiang
The Birds of Prey as I wanted to see them a year ago, and as they should have been from the beginning, with an artist worthy of them. Has a smaller more manageable cast, which allows more fun guest stars. Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, and Katana. Guest-stars will include: Big Barda, Nightwing (Cass), Zinda, Zatanna, Supergirl, Spoiler, Renee Montoya, Manhunter, Chase, even Power Girl. A couple dudes sometimes show up, they’ll be awesome too.
09. BLUE BEETLE #1 (Adult)
Written by: John Rogers
Art & Covers by: Rafael Albuquerque
Jaime Reyes is Blue Beetle. Second chances! His family and friends (especially Milagro Reyes) would show up regularly, and Traci 13 would likely guest-star.
10. CATWOMAN #1 (Adult)
Written by: Jen Van Meter
Art & Cover by: Chris Bachalo
Jen Van Meter does a great Black Cat over at Marvel, so I’d like to see her take on DC’s thieving cat, Selina Kyle. This would be quintessential Catwoman anti-hero stuff. Being a thief, being a hero, answering to nobody but herself and her own principles. Guest stars would include the usual Gotham suspects including the Goddamn Batman himself.
11. DC SHOWCASE #1 (MATURE)
Written by: Various
Art by: Various
Covers by: Various
48 Pages. An extravaganza of indie artists telling awesome offbeat tales not unlike Marvel’s exceptional Strange Tales this past year. It would be full of stuff like the Kate Beaton Aquaman above.
12. DETECTIVE COMICS #1 (Adult)
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art & Cover by: Jock
This is the Dick Grayson title. Let Snyder and Jock do exactly what they’re doing now, because it’s wonderful.
13. DV8 #1 (Mature)
Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Rebekah Isaacs
Covers by: Fiona Staples
This picks up directly where Brian Wood’s DV8 Gods & Monsters mini-series left off. It continues being brilliant.
Written by: Brenden Fletcher
Art & Cover by: Karl Kerschl
I loved their Wednesday Comics Flash story, here’s a chance for them to take it even further. Starring Barry and Iris. Guest starring The Abominable Charles Christopher. Just kidding. Probably.
15. GOTHAM NIGHTS #1 (Mature)
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art & Cover by: Francesco Francavilla
Greg Rucka doing what he does best – great detective stories, with a female lead. This book would focus on Gotham in a less superhero way, though stories will obviously touch superheroes and specifically the Bat-universe. Will star Renee Montoya and guest star Jim Gordon and various members of the police force and Gotham in general – including Manhunter (Kate Spencer) and Chase. I haven’t decided if Renee is still The Question or will still become The Question, so don’t ask.
16. GREEN ARROW #1 (Adult)
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: David Lopez
Covers by: Travel Foreman
Green Arrow’s never been a title I could quite figure out, and that seems to hold true now. I think I’d go the political angle, since he’s such a well-known liberal and see where that could take you. But it should be funny. I went outside the box (and deep into Marvel on this one) with Bendis…but I think the voice might actually be a good fit in the long run. David Lopez did great work with Hawkeye over on the Marvel side, so maybe he could do equally well for Green Arrow on the DC side…? Worth a try! Speedy (Mia Deardon) would guest-star, as would Black Canary occasionally (though they’re not together).
17. GREEN LANTERN #1 (Adult)
Written by: Rick Remender
Art by: Brad Walker
Covers by: Dave Johnson
In my world, the premiere Green Lantern is John Stewart as he’s always been my favorite. This book can be whatever a Green Lantern book should be, I’ll leave that up to my crack creative team. In the suggestion box from me though, is bringing in Hawkgirl as a potential love interest/guest star. I always thought those two kids could make it work. Brad Walker’s work on Heroes for Hire and specifically his take on Falcon makes me think he’d be a good fit for a book starring John Stewart.
Sidenote: It is EMBARRASSING how difficult it is to find a decent John Stewart GL cover…dude has been screwed for far too long.
18. GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1 (Adult)
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art & Cover by: Jonathan Hickman
In theory this is a rotating cast of Green Lanterns, under Johns hands I suppose it will be the Hal Jordan show, but that’s okay. I’ve come to terms with it.
19. INFERIOR FIVE #1 (Adult)
Written by: Evan Dorkin
Art & Cover by: Jesus Saiz
Superhero parody fun courtesy of Merryman, Awkwardman, Dumb Bunny, The Blimp, and White Feather. Win!
20. JONAH HEX #1 (Mature)
Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art & Cover by: Fiona Staples
This will skew more western and period and less “superhero-ish”. I think the artists on this should probably change over time, but we’ll start out with an arc or two from the fantastic Fiona Staples.
21. JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (Adult)
Written by: Jason Aaron (I know it’s a weird choice, but maybe it’s inspired!)
Art & Cover by: Aaron Lopresti
Primarily features: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Black Canary, and Hawkgirl . Guest appearances by Zatanna, and Green Arrow. Note to artists: Wonder Woman is the tallest person this team (see below for guideline). Always.
22. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1 (Adult)
Written by: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Art & Cover by: Kevin Maguire
Primarily features: Mr. Terrific, Booster Gold, Dr. Fate, Captain Atom, Plastic Man, Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Fire, Ice, and Blue Beetle. Guest appearances by Vixen and Power Girl. This is the lighter, but more crazy version of the Justice League franchise.
23. KID FLASH #1 (YA)
Written by: Roger Landridge
Art & Cover by: Emma Rios
A kid-friendly tale of Kid Flash. Nothing too flashy. Ha! Puns! Wally West is Kid Flash.
24. LOIS LANE, GIRL REPORTER (YA)
Written by: Dean Trippe
Art by: Daniel Krall
Covers by Trippe and Krall
This will essentially be exactly what Trippe wanted to do but as a monthly comic. A YA tale about Lois Lane, with heavy roles for both young Clark Kent and young Bruce Wayne, among others. Girls everywhere will embrace the renaissance of a new “Nancy Drew” they can relate to.
25. BATS! – THE INCREDIBLE BAT FAMILY (YA)
Written by: Bryan Q. Miller & Caanan Grall
Art & Covers by: Caanan Grall
A kid-friendly look at the bat family adventures. Will feature a rotating cast of the current core bat-family (Bruce, Dick, Barbara, Tim, Cass, and Damian). Guest stars from the extended bat-family (Stephanie Brown/Spoiler, Jason Todd, Zatanna, Huntress, Catwoman, etc.).
26. MADAME XANADU & ZATANNA #1 (Mature)
Written by: Kathryn Immonen
Art & Cover by: Amy Reeder
The two premiere ladies of magic in the DCU by two brilliant female creators. Sometimes Xanadu and Zatanna work together as a team, sometimes the book is about one or the other of them. It’s always smart and creative and beautifully drawn by Amy Reeder.
27. MARTIAN MANHUNTER #1 (Adult)
Writing, Art, & Cover by: Darwyn Cooke.
J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter in his role as a detective and superhero. I think is is probably a period book, old school superhero and detective noir, chronicling J’onn’s early years on earth, which will give Cooke lots of out of continuity freedom and ability to play with real history if he likes.
28. MR. MIRACLE & BIG BARDA #1 (Adult)
Written by: Tony Bedard
Art & Cover by: Amanda Conner
Exactly what it sounds like, the super terrific adventures of the best couple in the DCU, drawn by one of the best artists in the business and written by the guy that gave me one of my favorite Big Barda moment of all time.
29. MR. TERRIFIC #1 (Adult)
Written by: Eric Wallace
Art by: Roger Robinson
Covers by: J.G. Jones
Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt) just about the way DC’s trying to do it. I hope this book can make it, it looks great.
30. NIGHTWING #1 (Adult)
Written by: Kelly Puckett
Art by: Damian Scott
Covers by: Dustin Nguyen
Cassandra Cain returns to the Bat universe and takes up the vacant mantle of Nightwing. This will be the wonderful Puckett and Scott doing what they did so well nearly 10 years ago now, but for the next phase in Cassandra Cain’s life. There will be some (very necessary) ret-conning here. And I don’t care if that’s problematic. These two guys can figure it out, I know they can. Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) will be a frequent guest star as Cass’ BFF. Oracle will play a strong role here, and the rest of the Bat-Family will show up from time to time, including dear old dad, The Goddamn Batman.
31. OUTSIDERS #1 (Mature)
Written by: Warren Ellis
Art & Covers by: Daniel Acuna
The darker side of sears…er, The JLA. Starring Grace Choi, Thunder, Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Jade, Faust, and Geo Force. Maybe some Halo, and Eradicator. Batman (Bruce) – the money behind the organization – shows up sometimes to be broody and boss them around.
32. PLANETARY #1 (Mature)
Written by: Warren Ellis
Art & Covers by: John Cassaday
Why mess with perfection? This is the continued adventures of Planetary – Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and The Drummer.
33. POWER GIRL #1 (Adult)
Writing & Art by: Faith Erin Hicks
Writing & Art by: Mike Maihack
Covers by: Hicks and Maihack
Yeah, so I’m going a WHOLE other direction with this. It should be cartoony and fun, light and full of jokes. And by going with a totally cartoony de-sexualized style we’ll magically undo all the boob-y baggage Power Girl has been lugging around since just about ever (both literally and metaphorically). It’s going to be AWESOME.
34. SPIRIT #1 (Adult)
Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by: Chris Sprouse
Covers by: Sprouse and Darwyn Cooke
You know the drill. Look at the image above to understand how fun it will be. FUN!
Written by: Gail Simone
Art & Cover by: Jae Lee (he’s maybe too dark for such a dark book…but it also might be my most brilliant plan ever!)
A Suicide Squad/Secret Six combo, that is really more Secret Six, but gets renamed to Suicide Squad because I prefer that name. How do you like them apples?! Cast is much the same: Scandal Savage, Bane, Deadshot, Catman, Ragdoll, King Shark, and Manhunter (oh yeah, there’s a story there). Oh, and Amanda Waller is back in the mix.
36. SUPERMAN #1 (Adult)
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art & Cover by: Stuart Immonen
God of all comics can still try it out. I’m interested to see what he’ll do with it. I’m also not very attached to Superman, so don’t feel too protective. The Clark/Lois marriage stays in though. I feel like Stuart Immonen would KILL on a Superman book. It would be so damn beautiful.
Written by: Brian Wood
Art & Cover by: Ryan Kelly
Would love to see what Wood and Kelly could do to update Supergirl and make her modern and relevant. First things first of course is that the cheerleading uniform is gone. Other than that I’d be interested in a more modern urban take (like the above feels) or even a more ‘stranger in a strange land’ take, where Kara is more Kryptonian than she feels now. She should feel very different than and perhaps even at odds with Superman/Clark.
38. SUPERBOY #1 (Adult)
Written by: Kieron Gillen
Art & Covers by: Phil Noto
This is not Conner (sorry Conner), but the story of young Clark Kent…taking a page from the massive (against all odds) success of Smallville (on for 10 years! shocking!). This should follow the Smallville adventures of Clark Kent and focus on his friends and family, and coming to terms with his powers and responsibility…becoming the man he’s going to one day be.
39. SWAMP THINGS #1 (Mature)
Writing, Art, & Covers by: Ross Campbell
We actually almost got this series from Campbell a while back and I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like. Let’s find out!
40. TEEN TITANS #1 (Adult)
Written by: Christos Gage
Art & Covers by: Nicola Scott
Your basic Teen Titans with a great creative team. Cast is: Red Robin (Tim Drake) as the leader, Raven, Beast Boy, Static Shock, Jesse Quick, Solstice, Ravager (Rose Wilson) and Speedy (Mia Deardon). I just picked my favorite Teen Titans and added in Solstice for that new car smell…deal with it.
41. TINY TITANS #1 (YA)
Written & Drawn by: Art Baltazar
Written & Drawn by: Stephanie Buscema
Written & Drawn by: Dustin Nguyen
Rotating Cover Art between Baltazar, Buscema, and Nguyen
30 pages – 3 Short stories per issue, focusing on all the great heroes of the DCU as kids.
42. TRACI 13 #1 (Adult)
Written by: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art & Covers by: Becky Cloonan
Highschool student Traci 13 tries to deal with all the trials of being a teenager with incredible power. Guest stars include various Teen Titans and of course Blue Beetle, sometimes boyfriend at large.
43. VIXEN #1 (Adult)
Written by: Joshua Dysart
Art by: Jamal Igle
Cover by: Joshua Middleton
Vixen has given up the whole “modeling thing” (cause I find that boooring). She’s become involved instead in a variety of international charities and world organizations, but she can’t quite manage to hang up the superhero gig and does a lot of good and meets a lot of amazing people (superhero and not) all over the world. She’s basically Angelina Jolie with superpowers. She also gets a new costume so that she doesn’t have to worry about her boobs falling out everywhere she goes. She occasionally helps out with the JLI.
Written by: Gail Simone
Art & Cover by: Terry & Rachael Dodson
Alternate Art & Cover by: Bernard Chang
I know this didn’t work for everyone, but it worked for me like gangbusters. It was the first time I really fell in love with Diana, largely thanks to Simone’s ability to find her sense of humor and bring it to the forefront. All the arcs didn’t work for me equally, but I’d like to see Simone give it another try. The gorillas can come back too, but we ditch the “Diana Prince” persona. She’s just Wonder Woman. I like Nemesis, so we can see where that goes too. No promises though. The Dodson’s do a beautiful powerful Diana and they’re wonderfully consistent in their work so they take the lead, and Chang has a completely different take that I like almost as much, so they can alternate arcs.
45. WONDER WOMAN: PRINCESS OF THEMYSCIRA #1 (YA)
Written by: Ben Caldwell
Art & Cover by: Ben Caldwell
46. WEDNESDAY COMICS #1
Written by: Various
Art & Cover by: Various
Editor/Mastermind: Mark Chiarello
Duplicate the brilliance that was Wednesday Comics every June. Weekly in June this awesome extravaganza would kick off each summer, with its oversized talent loaded brilliance. New creators and characters every year.
47. ZEALOT & GRIFTER #1 (Mature)
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art & Cover by: Sean Phillips
It won’t be all sexy romance as the cover suggests, in fact the “will they, won’t they-ness” will mean it’s actually very little romance. It will mostly be running around, saving the world, while being badass and looking awesome. Sometimes they’ll make out.
Well…that’s only 47 books you say! Say, you’re right! You know what I do with the other 5? Hold onto your hats folks, I would do ALL NEW BOOKS. Crazy, right? No built in audience, just ground up new ideas, characters, and stories. They can meld beautifully into the DCU existing continuity or not. Brilliant books (both prose and graphic) are written every single day. New movies and television shows (some that aren’t even based off of comic books! shock of all shocks!) are created every day, and we have to have room in our medium for these things…and I don’t know why they can’t exist (and flourish) with the backing of the biggest comic book companies around. Great material is great material. Scott Pilgrim became MASSIVE all while being published by the always impressive but diminutive by big two standards, ONI. So what I’d like to see are NEW ideas, new stories. We can keep the old and still forge forward with new. What’s that song about making friends…one being silver and one being gold…making new and keeping the old? Yeah, we’re going to do that. There’s nothing revolutionary here. You know the comic book that brought me back to comics after a many year hiatus that I was ever looking to break? The Walking Dead. It also happens to be (by my own small research sampling) one of the most read books by non-comics fans…a book that turns non-comics readers into comics readers…? The Walking Dead was a whole new idea, a whole new book. It wasn’t Superman re-invented, it was just itself, and now…well, now it might as well be Superman. And we can have that if we just empower brilliant people to create. So I would hand pick some of those brilliant people and give them each carte blanche on a book…not all of them would work, not all of them would be brilliant, but it sure would be fun.