52 Geek-Out: DCU Part 1
I put up a substantial preface to this batch of posts on Friday, but here's a brief recap: DC Comics' May 31st announcement that it would relaunch its main superhero line with 52 new or rejiggered titles come September prompted a friend of mine to put out a call for folks to brainstorm a wish list of what those titles and their creative teams should be. I took up the challenge and, before I knew it, had premises for the whole deck of cards within a new paradigm.
The bulk of my line takes place within yet another "rebooted" DC Universe whose heroic age began at the dawn of the new millennium with the first appearance of Superman. A few of the series are showcase titles with rotating creative teams divorced from continuity, while a dozen more are largely disconnected but together can be seen as evidence of a wider DC Multiverse; we'll get to those shortly. I figured that it made sense to start with the big guns.
I did all of this save for some tweaking before DC itself had released much information on its actual slate of titles, by the way, so it's interesting to see how different and in a few cases how similar my imagined and DC's genuine rosters turned out to be.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi / Artist: Rags Morales
Clark Kent is the Last Son of Krypton. He was raised by a good, kind couple in the heartland of the USA, but although he feels human he knows that, biologically at least, he isn't — that's as obvious from his amazing strength, speed, senses, and other super-powers as it is from the alien craft that bore him. For the past decade, since revealing his existence to the world as Superman, he's inspired others with special abilities to join his never-ending battle against crime, hatred, and injustice, including some who are themselves from beyond the stars. And while his dedication as well as his very origins have prompted much of humanity to unite, looking at the cosmos in a whole new way, there are those (of pure and perverse intentions) searching for answers to why the 21st century has ushered Earth into the realm of what seems like science fiction. Peter J. Tomasi [Batman and Robin, Green Lantern Corps] pairs with his Nightwing cohort Rags Morales [Hourman, Identity Crisis] to begin an enduring legend anew. Jeffrey Spokes, who provided stunning variants for Boom!'s Irredeemable, handles the covers.
Writer: Scott Snyder / Artist: Paul Azaceta
In one tragic moment, Bruce Wayne learned that being born into privilege offers no insulation from life's darkness. Having vowed on his parents' graves to make the city they left behind a better, safer place, he shines a light on Gotham's shadows through the Wayne Foundation by day and infiltrates them as the mysterious Batman by night. The acclaimed creator of Vertigo's American Vampire, Scott Snyder, who recently scripted a different Batman in the pages of Detective Comics, offers his take on the original as interpreted by the bold, black linework of BPRD: 1946 and Potter's Field artist Paul Azaceta, under covers drawn by Hellboy's Duncan Fegredo.
Writer: Kathryn Immonen / Artist: Stuart Immonen
After the Amazons of the hidden isle of Themiscyra saw that the outside world had embraced a strange visitor from another planet as Earth's protector — and that sudden advances in science around the globe were beginning to rival their own — they realized that the time had come to reunite with "mankind". Kathryn Immonen [Marvel's Hellcat and Runaways] writes and Stuart Immonen [DC's Superman: Secret Identity, Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man] illustrates a fresh view of Wonder Woman, Princess of the Amazons, warrior for peace, heiress to mythology and technology the likes of which few suspected exist. Covers are courtesy Stuart Immonen, Phil Noto, and others.
Writer: Greg Rucka / Artist: Steve Epting
The son of an American lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean refugee, Arthur Curry is torn between civilizations. Like Bruce Wayne he was orphaned at a young age, but unlike Batman he is effusive in companionship. Like Kal-El of Krypton his heritage has provided him with abilities beyond mortal ken, but unlike Superman his people still exist — even as each side of his family tree constantly questions his allegiance to it over the other. Like Princess Diana of Themiscyra he is descended from royalty in a secret city, but unlike Wonder Woman he only discovered his homeland after years spent wandering the surface and the oceans upon his father's death. Aquaman stands both with and apart from the world's greatest superheroes, as we'll see in this series from versatile writer Greg Rucka [DC's Wonder Woman, Oni's Whiteout, Marvel's Wolverine — just to name the Ws] and cover/interior artist Steve Epting [The Marvels Project, Captain America].
Writer: Paul Chadwick / Artist: Nicola Scott
So what's it like living life at super-speed? Police scientist Barry Allen has been trapped in and thrilled by the ongoing experiment that is his body since a lightning strike doused him with an irreproducible mixture of chemicals that made him the fastest man alive. Concrete's Paul Chadwick, no stranger to chronicling the existence of a unique individual at once intensely physical and almost painfully cerebral, blazes a new trail for The Flash as drawn by the superb Nicola Scott of Wonder Woman, Secret Six, and Teen Titans. Steve Skroce returns to comics for the first round of covers.
Writer: Robert Kirkman / Artist: Ryan Ottley
The Invincible team of Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley bring their dynamic collaboration to DC to chronicle the exploits of John Stewart, Earth's second Green Lantern — including his very long-distance relationship with fellow Lantern Katma Tui. Hal Jordan, the first human ever to wear the emerald ring of power and protect Sector 2814, now spends most of his time off-world, although sometimes he feels less part of the honor guard of the self-proclaimed Guardians of the Universe and more under guard, harshly aware of other species' skepticism over the recent outbreak of alien, mystical, and metahuman activity on Earth. While Stewart's training as a US Marine and an architect keep him focused, grounded, and respectful of his Oan supervisors, he too feels torn between his duties to his native planet and the larger swath of the galaxy he patrols. Kirkman is thankfully no stranger to simmering storylines, here garnished by covers from the peerless P. Craig Russell.
Writer: Kurt Busiek / Artist: Michael Gaydos
Carter Hall is an archaeologist who moonlights like no other. His persistent dreams suggest not just a past life in ancient Egypt but later ones as a gunslinger known as Nighthawk in 1870s America and as part of a mysterious vigilante duo called Hawk & Dove in the 1960s, leading him to take to the skies during this new heroic age as the winged Hawkman. Is he a disciple of the jackal-headed deity Anubis, god of death, or his hawk-headed brother Horus, god of the sky? Is he the avatar of combat destined to search for serenity? Is he... insane? As if those questions didn't weigh heavily enough on his mind, Hawkman thought he'd found his reflection and soulmate in one of his Justice League compatriots — until a mysterious Hawkwoman claiming to be from the planet Thanagar entered his life. Writer Kurt Busiek [Astro City, JLA/Avengers] and artist Michael Gaydos [DC's Manhunter, Marvel's Alias], kings of character in their respective disciplines, make sense of it all under covers from Gaydos, Dustin Nguyen, and Paul Rivoche.
[to be continued]