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.

Any significant time around comic fans will show you that teen superheroes frequently hold a special place in a fan’s heart. The X-Men, the Runaways, the Blue Beetle, Spider-Man, whether they’ve achieved widespread success or not, these are characters that matter a lot to a lot of people. While they haven’t always held fast to their spot near the top of the heap, DC has one of the most beloved groups of young heroes in comics. It’s time the Teen Titans were a must-read comic again, and I know someone who’d be perfect for them.

 

TEEN TITANS BY JAMES TYNION IV

It is my opinion that if the Teen Titans are not a major book at DC something is wrong. One of DC’s hottest sellers in the 80s, the Teen Titans overcame one of the most ridiculous debuts in comic history and came back as some of the most beloved heroes DC has. Since then they’ve spawned several spin offs, a handful of successors, and three beloved television programs. More than that, they naturally follow the X-Men tradition of foreshadowing the future of comics. The Titans have a huge built-in fan base, thanks to the innate name recognition many of its classic members possess and the myriad of beloved incarnations they’ve created.

He’s Batman.

Of course, while they kind of have everything going for them, the Titans have not always fared well. The early 90s were a dark time, the 60s were laughable, the Atom’s team is all but forgotten, Geoff Johns’ tenure is divisive, and the New 52 has not treated them kindly. It’s not easy to strike the balance of character development, A-List villains, realistic teen drama, and superhero adventure that the Titans needs to find its potential, but I think it can be done.

There’s a wealth of wonderful characters that a writer could choose from. While the pull between generations has rendered many of the biggest names off-limits, there’s still an incredible number of solid heroes that could make up the team. I think Teen Titans might be the only series on this list where I’m actually grateful I don’t have to be the one to pare down the roster.

That said, I definitely have some favorites I would advocate for. There are a lot of reasons behind it, but I think the Titans need a Robin. Given the state of the DCU, I’d actually agree with current policy and put Tim Drake in a prominent role. I’d also urge the writer to include Bunker and Solstice and I’d push for following Young Justice’s lead and giving command of the Titans to Kaldur’ahm, a great new character who’s been sorely missing from DC’s recent efforts. There are also classics like Kid Flash, Beast Boy, Kon-El, and (possibly) Cyborg and a wealth of characters with interesting, underutilized powers who haven’t quite seen their due in print lately, like Ms. Martian, Static, Mal Duncan, and Hot Spot. (I never noticed just how many of DC’s greatest young heroes are black until I started thinking about this project.) Not to mention the fact that the Titans have proven one of the best avenues to introduce new heroes to the DCU or bring little known characters to prominence.

While I definitely have favorites and concepts I’d like to see explored, it strikes me that trying to write relatable teenaged superheroes is one of the things most quickly skewered by editorial overreach, so I’ve tried not to box this series in too much. Regardless, my strategy for the Titans is to get a talented, well suited writer on board, give it an expressive, non-generic artist, and encourage them to give us character depth worthy of Wolfman and Perez and to feel free to write stories worthy of the next generation of Leaguers.

Wake up, sheeple!

Tynion has a way of making very simple exchanges familiar and oddly charming.

With this in mind, I have to hand this title over to James Tynion IV. Tynion has proven a talent to be reckoned with over at DC. Starting as the backup writer for Batman, none too shabby a start, Tynion quickly made his mark with the rather underrated Talon. Talon seemed like the natural place to put him, an outgrowth of the “Court of Owls” storyline he had worked on, but anyone under the impression that it was just a way to squeeze some more story out of Snyder’s award-winning story should really sit down with it. While many never had the full opportunity to shine, almost every recurring character in the series is fun and memorable. It didn’t surprise me at all when Tynion was put on Red Hood and the Outlaws. RHatO, for any of the series’ famous flaws, was a big get for Tynion, proving that he could handle one of the Robins and two of the more loved Titans of yesteryear. All that makes for a fairly meteoric rise, but 2014 proved to be Tynion’s year with the back to back debuts of his creator-owned series, The Woods, and the epic Batman Eternal weekly, which set him up as the architect and prime writer of one of the biggest Batman stories since “No Man’s Land”.

While Eternal has had moments of strength and weakness, Tynion has contributed some of the best installments and clarified his skill set to the readership, not to mention what level he’s playing on. Tynion has demonstrated a skill for writing teenaged protagonists again and again. The cast of The Woods, though we’re still learning about them, have been lively and interesting from the beginning, with characters like Calder, Karen, and Ben standing out in a big way. We also have stories like “Why So Sad?” from In the Dark and, of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tynion has been writing the Tim Drake and Harper Roe issues of Batman Eternal. In fact, I think Tynion’s take may be the first time Tim has felt like himself since Flashpoint, certainly the first time he has reliably.

Tynion’s first time writing Tim Drake, a backup in Batman #0, was kind of a perfect reintroduction to the character and what endeared him to fans.

Better than the vast majority of writers, Tynion seems to remember and respect the struggles of being young. He treats his teen characters with respect and agency, and doesn’t feel the need to pretend that becoming an adult instantly drains your IQ in order to compliment a teenager. These are kids who feel like people without just being oddly proportioned adults.

Talon and Batman Eternal, particularly, also prove that Tynion is capable is juggling a large cast of allies and enemies while building big stories. When he wants to, he can write some solid action scenes, but they rarely feel disconnected from the characters’ narratives. Tynion is a newer talent and clearly still remembers his lessons about narrative structure. His character arcs are strong and well integrated into the plot. This has found its strongest expression in the second arc of The Woods, where Tynion has split the story between the current happenings of the story and a series of flashbacks to last year’s school play and the separate but co-mingling dramas playing out around the event.

James Tynion has demonstrated a myriad of important skills in the short time he’s been writing comics. I think Teen Titans is the perfect title to call all of them…well, together.

Tomorrow… You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…

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