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.

Marc Andreyko did a fine job introducing readers to Kate Spencer over thirty-eight issues and thirteen back-ups. It’s not easy to take over a character that’s been so strongly associated with one writer, but I think I know someone who can fill those shoes.

 

MANHUNTER BY MARJORIE LIU

In DC’s criminal justice system, the people are represented by three separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; the superheroes, who solve crimes; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders only to see them out of the street again in six months. Kate Spencer is sick of that.

A federal prosecutor, Kate Spencer decided enough was enough and liberated a spattering of superhero tech from Evidence to make a more permanent difference in the fight against crime. As a prosecutor she seeks to put the most dangerous elements of society behind bars and, as Manhunter, she makes sure that those who slip through the cracks get worse.

Kate’s original series by Marc Andrekyo was a critical darling, praised for its respect for the characters and its realistic portrayal of Kate’s complicated relationships. Kate’s extracurriculars split her time between being a respected lawyer, a rogue vigilante, and a single parent. Likewise, I see the book split between a gritty street level superhero story and a legal drama, with both sides connected to Kate’s relationship with her son and coworkers.

To pull that off you need someone who can tell a dark story without wallowing in that darkness and you need someone who understands the law well enough to write a compelling look at the legal system of a world of heroes. I suppose the fashionable answer is to get Charles Soule (he certainly understands the stresses of over-committing), but not only has he signed an exclusive deal with Marvel since I formulated this pick, but I think we’re better off looking at someone who comes to superhuman legal proceedings a little fresher.

Marjorie Liu is a New York Times best-selling author and it kind of shows in her comic work. Liu has a knack for writing compelling, natural dialogue scenes that keep the reader engaged. Especially in a series that won’t necessarily be able to feature a major action set piece every issue and focuses on topics that are strengthened by specificity, it will be essential to hire a writer who possesses those skills.

Liu explored the weight of killing in X-23. Manhunter would present a reversal of sorts but could easily call upon the same skills to tell its story.

 

Liu also has a proven track record writing women and queer characters with understanding and nuance. Kate Spencer, it seems to me, is a character who needs to be really understood by her writer and the ability to call on personal experience would likely be a great asset for the series.  Particularly given her focus on family in much of her Marvel work, I’d love to see how Liu would handle the relationship between Kate and her son, Ramsey. I’d also mention that there’s very little that would survive a reboot that in any way limits Kate to being a white woman. I’m not set on it, but I think it might be interesting to recast Manhunter as a woman of color, another thing Ms. Liu has mentioned she feels strongly about presenting accurately.

Perhaps best of all, Liu studied law at the University of Wisconsin and was a bar-certified lawyer before deciding that writing was really what she wanted to do. She doesn’t seem to bear any bad feelings towards her law school days, and I imagine that her familiarity with the law would be a great asset to the series.

Liu’s writerly style, familiarity with law, and proven ability to write the kinds of real, diverse characters that Manhunter requires all mark her as a strong choice to take up the reigns of this well-loved series. Manhunter has had trouble finding its audience in the past but putting an established talent in both comics and prose on the book helps place this series at the intersection of a number of reader categories. A comic for the literary crowd, for Law and Order junkies, for those seeking new and diverse comics, for fans of the Punisher, for fans of more personal stories. With a solid marketing push behind it, such as would be (and was) involved in a line-wide reboot, I think Manhunter could bring in a lot of new readers while satisfying longtime fans.

 

Kate_Spencer_Manhunter_0001Tomorrow… Rise up.

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