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.

War comics are a particularly hard sell in peacetime. Particularly as society continues to grow less and less fond of war as a concept, it can be hard to produce a monthly war series. DC was already begining to run into that problem in the early 60s when they bucked convention and introduced headlining features into Star-Spangled War Stories. In some cases that just meant putting the focus on particular soldiers, like Enemy Ace, but other attempts to bolster sales were a little more…inventive…

 

THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT BY CAITLÍN R. KIERNAN

See that look on the Tyrannosaur’s face? That’s you after you read this series.

“Dinosaurs vs. Tanks!”, the dramatic summary on the cover of Star-Spangled War Stories #90, is pretty much the purest distillation of stereotypical american boyhood and I’m not really sure that any more thinking than that went into the creation of “The War That Time Forgot”. It certainly still has an appeal to it, but I don’t think that the original formula is potent enough to survive in the era of Jurassic World. DC tried to breathe life into the franchise in 2008 with a year-long maxi-series, but if it had any success, I haven’t heard of it. No, it seems that the pulpy charm of a war against dinosaurs just isn’t enough these days.

Not for DC anyway.

It occurs to me that, while trying to reboot a 1960 war sci-fi war comic about soldiers fighting dinosaurs for DC might sound crazy, soldiers vs. dinosaurs is one hook away from a brilliant indie title. Get a good writer and a talented artist on that, get Image to pick it up, and I think that thing would sell. One thing that I’d feel compelled to address if I had the power this project imagines is the rise of independent publishers. As Marvel and DC bicker over their share of the comic market, publishers like IDW and Boom! are quickly growing into threats that could one day challenge them, Image is already there! While the creator-owned model offers some inherent advantages, there’s no reason that DC can’t try to compete in the same league as the indie publishers, after all the last time they were willing to try that it lead to hits like Starman and Sandman.

So odd a choice as “The War That Time Forgot” is, I think that it could soar if given to the right team and given something resembling the indie treatment by editorial.

Unfortunately for this article, that means giving the writer space to develop their own concept and so I’ve tried to restrain myself from coming up with too much on my own. However, I conceived of this title a a vehicle for a specific creator and I think that will help explain a little of my thinking.

The original "War That Time Forgot" took a...somewhat lax approach to scientific accuracy...

The original “War That Time Forgot” took a…somewhat lax approach to scientific accuracy…

Caitlín R. Kiernan broke into mainstream comics in a pretty big way when she was approached to write The Dreaming, a one of three spinoffs of The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman. Kiernan wrote the series for four and a half years, penned a Bast story for Sandman Presents:, and stepped onto even more hallowed ground by writing two Death miniseries.

As if that weren’t enough, Kiernan’s life is basically everything you dreamed of when you were a kid. An accomplished novelist and comic writer, Kiernan was also the lead singer of of a “goth-folk-blues band” called Death’s Little Sister, after Delirium of the Endless. Oh, and she’s a professional paleontologist.

Needless to say, I quickly paired her with the “The War That Time Forgot”.

This bird needs to stop blaspheming!

Most of Kiernan’s recent comic work has been part of her Alabaster series, expanding on the adventures of Dancy Flammarion, the lead of her novel, Alabaster. The Dancy stories are a concentrated dose of dark fantasy horror and Southern twang. Seriously, Flammarion’s vocal cords read like rusted brass and the atmosphere of the stories is thick and nigh overwhelming (in the best way).

While the choice between a personally cruel Satan and a distant God whose love resembles the work of H.P. Lovecraft far more than any gospel may make for a better sense of fear and awe than a flesh and blood archosaur, it does do something to mirror the role we frequently place dinosaurs in, that of impossibly great beasts that remind us of our insignificance, either with their destruction or their teeth. Alabaster also demonstrates Kiernan’s focus on mood and character, which I think would be essential in writing a dinosaur comic.

When all’s said and done, dinosaurs are just animals. As much as I love dinosaur stories, they naturally have to either anthropomorphize the dinosaurs into possessing distinct personalities or try to impose some narrative onto them, often awkwardly. Survival doesn’t have a purpose, dinosaurs don’t naturally make for the most complex antagonists. In order to pull off The War That Time Forgot, you need a writer who can make our heroes vital and interesting enough that they can hold reader attention by themselves. Clearly Dancy Flammarion is proof that Kiernan can do that.

While Kiernan might not seem the most natural choice to pen a war comic, it’s my opinion that any war story worth hearing is also a horror story. Indeed the greatest question to me is how straight Kiernan would play the two elements of the story. Would she stick to soldiers on the island or would there be a civilian contingent? And how accurate would she be with her dinosaurs? These are all great questions but I’m afraid they’re not likely to be answered unless Ms. Kiernan wants to respond to this article or my fortunes take a dramatic turn for the better. Given that the direction of this series may ever remain an unanswered question, how would you handle it, fellow writers and readers?

Tomorrow… The Dark Knight.

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