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.

A Golden Age classic, Blackhawk has never fully revived the vigor of the original incarnation. I have a couple of ideas on how to make it work in the modern day, but I’m going to need a writer who’s up to the task, maybe two writers…

 

BLACKHAWKS BY TIM SEELEY AND TOM KING

“History has proven that whenever liberty is smothered and men lie crushed beneath oppression; there always rises a man to defend the helpless…liberate the enslaved and crush the tyrant…Such a man is Blackhawk…Out of the ruins of Europe and out of the hopeless mass of defeated people he comes, smashing the evil before him…”

So begins the first tale in Quality Comics’ Military Comics #1, which introduced the world to Blackhawk. While he and his men are perhaps best remembered by their occasional cameos or through Lady Blackhawk’s membership on the Birds of Prey, Blackhawk is notable for being one of five characters to be published through he Golden Age into the 1960s. The only other characters to share this distinction are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, the later only thanks to his backup feature in the Superman-centric Adventure Comics.

Despite selling numbers that rivaled Superman, Blackhawk has not maintained the presence of his contemporaries. Perhaps its not surprising, considering the book’s inherent connection to the Second World War, but its hard to write off a concept that was once one of the most popular comics in the world.

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So the question is: what about Blackhawk is still relevant in the modern day. Oddly enough I don’t think it’s the characters, many of them were weakly defined during the book’s heyday, and we’ve been spoiled when it comes to aerial dogfights. Spectacle isn’t going to cut in in a world, not only of home video, but of YouTube. So what’s the hook? As I see it, it’s all there in the first words of Military Comics #1.

There are a lot of ways to take Blackhawk. You can go the route of All-Star Squadron and let it be a WWII period piece, you can embrace the weirdness of the War Wheel and make it a bizarre throwback to the wild creativity of yesteryear, or you can try to modernize the book and present the same feeling of slick modernity that the Black Leather suits of Blackhawk squadron inspired in the 40s. In many ways, that decision is not one that I feel an editor can make alone but, regardless I think that idea of Blackhawk as a crusader against political oppression has the potential to provide this series the narrative backbone it requires.

In a narrative landscape where The Hunger Games is one of the most influential stories around, there’s clearly a desire for stories of resistance and Blackhawk, originally a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Poland meets that need. While I wouldn’t entirely rule out utilizing the concept of Blackhawk Island, I think I’d encourage the creative team to set the Blackhawks as rogue agents, traveling around the world, standing up for the little guy. I think the series would do best to serialize itself, each mission leading into a bigger story.

No matter what shape the series takes, one of the angles I described above or something wholly different, this series will need a writer who can give it both the realism it demands and the emotional depth it needs to survive. I think Tim Seeley is a strong candidate. If you’re looking for a serialized narrative with strong characters and a fearless willingness to explore big ideas you won’t go wrong with Revival and Seeley’s status as a self-described “writer that draws”, will go a long way to ensuring that the action sequences are something to see.

Recently Seeley’s been doing work for DC’s Batman office, writing some excellent Batgirl and Killer Croc stories for Batman: Eternal and, more importantly for this decision, co-writing a little book called Grayson with former counter-intelligence operative, Tom King. The early issues of Grayson’s greatest strength was the degree to which they were comfortable fully owning the strange world they described. Part way between a Fleming novel and a superhero comic, Grayson is a very different take on DC. I think it could be very interesting for Blackhawks to look at the political cost that the scientific advancements of the age of heroes exact from the world, particularly from the everyday people.

Tom King has spoken at length about the emotional toll of waging a war of secrets and the way that will play into Grayson. We’re just starting to see how accurate his statements were, but I think a military title needs that kind of understanding. It’s not wrong to have a comic that glorifies characters engaged in warfare and political resistance, but I think that it is an ethical failing not to present at least some of the consequence of war. I trust King to bring that balance to the title and to keep it respectful to those who serve their country in more a traditional manner than the Blackhawks.

On the other hand, I feel like Seeley is the kind of writer who’s willing to call things what they are and not get caught up in politics.  A resistance story that’s not willing to look inward is toothless, and I don’t imagine Tim Seeley gets called that all too often.

Tomorrow… Beware his power.

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