In the course of talking to comic creators this year, I started to think about their unique talents and what I think they would be best suited to. Inspired by all kinds of wonderful ideas I’ve seen online and heard from creators, I’ve put together my New 52. These are the 52 books I would publish if DC’s offerings were up to me and, as my friends and I have had a good time discussing them, I thought I would share them with you.

I tried to consider the actual feasibility of these titles, not only in the sense of immediate sales but in their ability to expand DC’s brand long-term. I also recognize that this is a dramatically simplified version of what DC actually has to do. As such, I made a couple of rules for myself. First, as I don’t have the same knowledge of the creators’ availability and timeliness as an actual editor, I decided that I would allow myself access to any writer currently working in comics, but that I could only assign a creator to one book. Second, I tried not to put a writer on the same book that they’ve already worked on, though some were moved to similar concepts or allowed to expand short work they’ve already done. Finally, while an actual relaunch might do well to include some new books, I limited myself to preexisting titles and IPs for this project.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, on why I’m right, why I clearly screwed up, who should be illustrating the series, etc. But, regardless, I hope you enjoy.

This next title is based on a rather short-lived series, but the dynamics of the characters have a certain natural chemistry. A mix of Silver Age excitement and classic detective drama, this one occupies an interesting middle ground in the New Year’s 52 lineup.

 

HAWKGIRL AND THE ATOM BY JOHN LAYMAN

Though the original series failed to rescue the dwindling sales of the protagonists’ titles, I think there’s potential for a modern update of the short-lived The Atom and Hawkman. The reasoning is the same now as then, pairing two characters who have always hovered just below the threshold of supporting their own series together in the hopes that they can accomplish together what they have failed at alone.

Brett Booth’s original design sketch for Hawkgirl in Earth-2

Working with the Silver Age Hawkwoman as a base, the series would follow Shayera Hol, a Thanagarian law officer pursuing an escaped criminal. Both ships damaged in a sortie over Earth, Shayera crash lands near Ivy Town, CT (in my imagining analogous to a suburb of Boston the same way Gotham is analogous to New York).

At nearby Ivy University work Professor Ray Palmer and the newly employed Professor Ryan Choi. An accident during their research on dwarf star-matter, leaves Choi the only being immune to a tragic flaw that causes matter to explode after two minutes. Taking advantage of this, Choi becomes The Atom, with Palmer as his mentor.

The two are brought together by Shayera’s escapee and, in her inexperience with Earth, she is forced to accept his help. Inevitably the convict eludes them again, and Shayera stays on to track them down, much to the curious Professor’s delight.

I think it would be especially interesting to give Shayera some of Carter Hall’s more hawkish traits and make her something of an arch-conservative. This would be a nice change of pace and also breed natural tension between the fiercely individualistic Hawkgirl and Choi, a socially conscious academic.

John Layman may not be the first writer you’d think of to write a strongly conservative superhero (Chuck Dixon would be crushed, I’m sure), but at its core this is a buddy comedy by way of Capes and, hopefully, something of a tonal successor to Gail Simone’s All-New Atom.

A normal day in Ivy Town?

Layman has more than proved his ability to write razor-sharp speculative police comedy (a common subgenre) in the form of Chew, but one of the great qualities about Chew is that, as absurd as it gets, it keeps you thoroughly engaged with the characters and the plot. It felt like Ryan Choi’s life always had a touch of the absurd, pair that with a Hawk, hand it to Layman, and I feel like the series would almost write itself.

Layman can clearly write for a Big Two Superhero comic, as he helmed DC’s flagship title for over a year. While I actually didn’t like, or dislike for that matter, his “Wrath” story arc or his “Gothtopia” capstone, Layman’s run is one that really sticks with me. It may sound strange to say that when those two stories comprise over a third of his work, but Layman proved able to tell complete, compelling detective yarns in the span of a single issue, making each of his issues as memorable as many half-year story arcs. Better yet, he wove those individual issues together into the surprisingly effective “Emperor Penguin” arc.

In his time in Gotham, Layman sought out the strange and the outmoded elements of Batman’s world and proved that he could make a classic Batman-as-detective story out of the wildest excesses of the 1970s.

Give him a time-tested straight-man, a fish out of water to push the story forward, and more than a little taste of the strange and I think Layman could work magic with this title.

Tomorrow… The most terrifying history lesson you’ll ever get.

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