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.

Though some would argue that the current management is trying to change this, one of DC’s greatest strengths is that it’s a legacy company. The idea of legacy heroes is written right into the DNA of DC Comics. Ever since Barry Allen was shocked by that lightning bolt, the seeds have been waiting. Eventually the Bronze Age’s return to serious stories, the introduction of greater serialization, and the success of the New Teen Titans made legacy heroes an inevitability for the company. And, for a long time, it was good. It was very good. But there is a problem with legacy heroes and character growth: some characters grow faster than others. Ted Kord aged while Batman stayed the same age. Wally West went from older teenager to believable Flash, but Gar Logan might have even gotten younger! Aging is a strange and uneven process in comics, but for some it is still an inevitability, especially with teen superheroes.

So for those members of the Teen Titans who didn’t have a vacancy to step into or a friend with a co-star spot to crash on the walls began closing in. After all, there was a new batch of Teen Titans on the way. Geoff Johns tried to make room for the survivors as instructors to the new kids, but it was clear that they needed someplace to go, someplace worthy of their stature as some of the most beloved characters of their era.

DC made some admirable attempts to correct this in the New 52, rebooting some and promoting others, like Cyborg, but particularly with the collapsed timeframe, the Titans are a little bit of a mess right now. I think it’s time we officially gave them a place to call home again.

And so I give you…

STARFIRE AND THE OUTSIDERS BY RACHEL DEERING AND JAMES ASMUS

If we’re looking for characters who are deserving of a greater stage, I think Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran should be near the top of the list. Trusting without being foolish, fierce without being short-tempered, loving without needing to be soft, Kory reminds us of who we wish we could be. In short, Starfire is a great character.

Starfire should be fun!

Starfire holds a place in the hearts of many New Teen Titans fans and has reached a new audience, especially young girls looking for representations of themselves in superhero media, through the Teen Titans television series. Unfortunately however, it’s been far too long since fans could see the Starfire they know in comics. Pre-Flashpoint writers seemed afraid to let the character grow beyond her New Teen Titans history and relationship with Dick Grayson and, with more respect than you might imagine, I can honestly say that Scott Lobdell butchered her character in Red Hood and the Outlaws. Though I would have loved to give Starfire her own series and I hope to raise her profile with this starring role, I’m afraid that I don’t feel confident that she could support a long-running series. That’s what led me to this idea.

Red Hood and the Outlaws was a clever enough idea for Kory, but it went bad quickly. Still, having a book featuring some of the in-between characters of DC who can be taken in a lot of different directions is a charming idea. So I suggest we switch Starfire into the lead role and swap out Jason Todd.

Starfire, Raven, and Arsenal. Let the writers add in one or two personal favorites that fit the theme and you’ve got Starfire and the Outsiders.

Rather than put her in charge of the old Batman team, I think it makes sense to reboot the Outsiders as a more literal descriptor, after all it could be used to refer to any of the three protagonists.

Dick Grayson’s best friend, everybody…

I actually like what Lobdell did with Roy Harper on the whole, but I think we could pull him back towards his original interpretation and use Lobdell’s no-filter, former addict characterization more as seasoning. To me, Arsenal is an outsider among outsiders, at once too social and too withdrawn into his own angst to communicate effectively. He favors actions over words and loyalty over momentary gestures. Perhaps it’s his idea to dub the team the Outsiders, but regardless, their support means the world to him. When Roy truly speaks his mind, everyone listens.

Love is a many splendored thing! Love lifts us up where we belong! All you need is love!

Love is a many splendored thing! Love lifts us up where we belong! All you need is love!

Starfire lives in the moment. She tries to see the best in everyone, but woe to those who push her beyond her compassion. She’s a born warrior and, despite her starbolts, she likes getting up close and personal in combat. She’s slower to join a battle than Roy and quicker to end one, especially if that means lethally. It’s hard not to love Kory and she’s kind of the best friend you could have. This makes her a natural center of the Outsiders team, the sunbeam able to bring these often depressed introverts out of their shells. Unfortunately she doesn’t entirely understand Earth’s ways and sometimes she forgets that not all of her teammates think as she does.

Tamaranians are a species based around love. They love freely and well. It motivates them to marry, to protect, to wage war, and the limited, often toxic love of earth is confusing for them. Any series about Starfire will have to understand this and I think there’s good opportunities to put it to use here.

The final member of the team I’ve picked out is Raven. A pacifist and a reluctant hero, Raven’s life has been dominated by fear. Try as she might, she sees the threat in people before the potential and making friends is hard for her. Though she doubts herself, her strategic mind and calm heart quickly sees her fall into a natural role as Starfire’s second-in-command and occasional source of insubordination when Star’s temper or eagerness takes precedence over her reason.

Raven is a very different character from Starfire, not only in temperament but in genre. While the sunny Koriand’r opens the stars up to the team and comfortably straddles the line between science-fiction and sword and sandal fantasy, Raven comes from a world of supernatural fantasy and the experience has left her introspective and sullen.

I think that the tension and friendship between these two women will be the driving force behind the series. There aren’t enough great female friendships in comics, in fact there often aren’t enough great friendships period. I think this series has the potential to help amend that without sacrificing plot or action.

New Teen Titans #39 is a strange, beautiful issue for these two heroines, not to mention shippers everywhere…

This is a very particular series, one that I actually think could really succeed or really fail, and so I feel that I have to bring on writers who will really do it justice.

Rachel Deering came to my attention through whispers of her horror anthology, In The Dark. I have strong feelings about the place of anthologies in comics, as you’ll soon see, but the book’s fifty-dollar initial price tag made it one of those things you’d love to support but…maybe you’ll do it tomorrow…yeah…

Then the creators were announced and I was like, “well shit, guess I’m out fifty bucks…”

I can’t say I regret it. Not only was In the Dark a really cool book, especially for an aspiring editor like me, but I actually got to talk to Deering and her fellow creators at the awesome release party they held just before last year’s C2E2. Having that context and seeing the thought and effort that went into the book, not to mention the eeriness of her two contributions, I knew I wanted Deering somewhere in the New Year’s 52. The question of where was decided when I chose to include Raven in this series. I’d floated the idea of a Raven series when Deering asked for suggestions for characters that would suit her on twitter and she seemed intrigued by the idea. As time went on I couldn’t help but ruminate on the concept and it occurred to me it was actually a really cool pairing. Needless to say, when I needed to write a series heavily featuring Raven, spanning multiple genres, exploring the inner lives of characters with interesting and atypical relationships with sex and gender, and coming from a female perspective, Deering came to mind.

I think Deering brings a different perspective to this series, one attuned to the subtle emotions of horror, and that this team will benefit immensely from a new attitude. That said, excellent comics are only so good as martyrs. If this series is to do what I want it to for Raven and Starfire, it will need to sell, and that means appealing to the base. It also bears mentioning that while Deering seems perfect for Raven and Arsenal, I’ve not seen her demonstrate the particular skills for Starfire. I don’t doubt that she has them, but in a book driven by the push and pull between two radically different characters, it just seemed like the simplest answer to these questions was to bring a co-writer into the equation.

Even their hairstyles are opposites!

James Asmus feels like a good counterweight to Deering. While they’re both talented writers, Deering’s work is quieter and has a more objective quality about it whereas Asmus’ characters seem hard pressed to contain themselves and often tell you more about what they feel than what is.

My greatest exposure to Asmus is through his work on the X-Men. His run on Gambit was brilliant fun and really had a vitality that I’d like from this series. Even though they’ve graduated from the Teen Titans, who really weren’t the average teen superheroes anyway, I knew I wanted this series to have a youthful energy about it. Asmus’ work on Generation Hope not only demonstrated that he could bring that to the page but a talent for writing team books, especially team books with more than a little tension. Plus he’s really funny, and, especially with Roy Harper hanging around, that’s never a bad trait in a series that you want to have memorable character development.

I salute you, gentlemen!

I salute you, gentlemen!

There’s just so many cool ideas at play in Asmus’ work. From the trouble of sneaking ‘illegal aliens’ into New York to the fun of robbing the Queen of England to the weirdness of putting Hope, Cyclops, Sebastian Shaw, and Emma Frost into close quarters, he’s shown a knack for thinking through plots really well. I can’t say with authority but, assuming that the two find some level of compatibility as writers, it seems like a trait that would make him a fine writing partner.

I also admit that one of the complicated elements of Starfire is her sexuality. Ever on the knife’s edge between sexual and sexualized, I think Starfire’s brand of love is a beautiful thing, at least when handled with respect. In fact, if you even look at art of Kory you can see almost instantly whether the artist understands her. When you look at George Perez’s images of Starfire, particularly, those intended to be fanservice often emphasize Kory’s power and playfulness. Her heart is the core of her sex appeal.

While some would argue that downplaying her odd free love roots would be best, I think in the hands of a capable creative team it could be quite an interesting element of the character. Considering the thought that went into Gambit’s fanservice, I think Asmus can be trusted to balance beauty with agency, especially with Deering’s help and guidance.

With Asmus’ experience in fun, bizarre sci-fi and Deering’s horror roots driving it, I think this team could be something special. To be honest, this is one of my favorite New Year’s 52 concepts, and I really do wonder if it would live up to my hopes. As different as it is in theory, in practice I think Starfire and the Outsiders would really be a really classic comic. Whether it took place in space, on earth, or some eldritch dimension, the core concept is simple. Some of the most beloved heroes in DC’s stable given their own title and turned loose to have adventures, protect those in need, and get through life together.

Tomorrow… The World’s Finest Heroes.

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