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.

Batman is the general of DC’s army of titles. There are few characters who demand more respect in this industry and few who can be taken in so many different directions. Whoever takes on this book will have their work cut out for them, but I think I know someone who could handle it…

 

BATMAN BY KYLE HIGGINS

I don’t imagine a future arriving any time soon that doesn’t see Batman being one of DC’s better selling comics. Batman is an industry juggernaut and doing him justice is paramount to winning the casual reader and convincing the longtime fan that that company is in good hands.

As such it’s important to me that Batman have a clear identity and a strong idea of what its strategy is going forward. While “no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy”, I think that this book should be the place where people go to get the purest sense of Batman.

Batman: The Animated Series is the Batman for an entire generation of fans and creators.

Batman: The Animated Series is the Batman for an entire generation of fans and creators.

Whether you ask fans or professionals, one of the most common answers to what got you into Batman, or even what got you into comics, is Batman: The Animated Series. Part of that is its placement in history, its being marketed as a definitive interpretation in the wake of Batman Returns, but I think that Batman: The Animated Series would stand out no matter what. It combined the grim and heroic interpretations of Batman beautifully and brilliantly reinvented and reinterpreted classic characters. It created a timeless Batman that has felt true and authentic to countless fans. That’s what we’re looking to do.

One of the most interesting things about Batman is the degree to which he functions in isolation. Though he’s one of the few characters who really doesn’t need any supporting cast to function, Batman is completely defined by his relationships with others, whether it be his parents or Alfred or the Joker or Robin. Ironically for a series called “Batman” I think that the Batman solo title should focus on Bruce’s interactions with his allies and enemies.

Though he’s never quite handled an assignment of this level before, that’s part of the reason I think Kyle Higgins would be perfect for Batman. Finding the right balance between delivering a workmanlike consistency and an auteur’s brilliance seems to be a frequent problem for Batman, but Higgins seems to have developed a good balance between the immediacy of dialogue and the long-term value of world building.

Particularly on books like Batman Beyond Universe and C.O.W.L., Higgins has proven adept at expressing complex character simply and using exterior events to progress inner conflict. He also tends not to lean on inner monologue, which admittedly goes against tradition for the Dark Knight, but forces him to demonstrate character through action and precisely crafted dialogue. The hopeful result would be a series that’s able to translate the tension between Batman and his celebrated rogues gallery into insight about our protagonist.

A filmmaker by training, Higgins has a remarkable ability to translate the strengths of film into comics, conveying motion, pacing, and intonation with uncanny consistency. His best dialogue sequences have all the layers of a great Game of Thrones confrontation and his writing is dramatic without wallowing in angst. Plus Higgins clearly adores Batman.

Oh snap!

It helps that he’s already written a brilliant take on a rather dark future for Bruce over in Batman Beyond Universe. Understanding the Dark Knight’s flaws while loving what’s right about him, I think that Higgins could give us a classic Batman. In fact, part of what I love about much of his work is the depth of character he brings with him. I see shimmers of the same compassion that made so many of Batman: The Animated Series’ villains so arresting in Higgins’ work.

I think Higgins has the range Batman requires. Especially towards the end, Nightwing displayed an excellent balance between man and superhero, delivering bombastic fun and a sense of optimism. At the same time, Batman Beyond Universe was weaving focused tales of a future Gotham that distracted you from the grimness of Bruce’s isolation with charm and realism from Dick, Barbara, and Terry. Now with C.O.W.L., a gritty period-piece with the city of Chicago and the first superhero union as its main character, being one of the best books on the shelves, Higgins has proved that he can deliver a blockbuster story full of depth and self-deception.

Honestly, I don’t know why Higgins isn’t a bigger star in the industry. I suspect that the myriad of skills he brings to the table just haven’t been combined in the proper way to catch people’s attention yet. Regardless, he has a phenomenal track record working with artists, an increasingly captivating sense of plot, and a skill for dialogue. If Batman is going to be the place where we try to capture all of who Bruce Wayne is – his strengths, his flaws, those who support him, the monsters he strives never to become – Higgins is one of the few writers who has demonstrated the ability to do so.

Many times, Batman feels either like a network drama overstepping its scope or a movie too focused on a single vision to stretch into an ongoing series. If that’s the case, I think Higgins’ approach is HBO, and that’s what I want from Batman.

Tomorrow…Purple prose

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