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.

The Man of Tomorrow and the Man of Gothic Yesterdays, Superman and Batman sound like a terrible pair. How do you mesh a gritty street-level hero and an embodiment of optimistic power? No matter how you manage, there’s no denying that these strange partners are one of, if not the, biggest team in comics. Their friendship and their respect are some of the key pillars of the DC Universe and that deserves a special spotlight.

 

BATMAN/SUPERMAN BY CULLEN BUNN

A World’s Finest team-up comic is a natural seller, particularly as the DC Cinematic Universe primes to introduce its Batman and pits him against the Man of Steel. However, despite the star power they bring to the table, there’s no reason to publish this comic if it can’t distinguish itself. Batman/Superman needs to bring something special to the table that the Justice League and solo titles can’t supply. So what can this book offer that a Justice League book can’t. Well, most obviously, focus. Batman and Superman are huge heroes and huge draws, but they have such clout that you actually want to use them carefully on a team book. Here, with no other teammates to consider, you can really get to the core of their myths and highlight the particular friendship that exists between the two.

You also have a book that has free reign to consider some of the more interesting threats from the duo’s history. Where else are you going to get to see Batman taking on powerhouses like Mongul or call back to Superman’s Golden Age detective work. In fact, I think Clark Kent is a natural part of this title. Grant Morrison’s Action Comics really understood what makes Superman’s role as a reporter special and was a great example of how it can be used to motivate a Superman story. Clark’s specialty may be as a writer, as someone who makes the news and the corruption it exposes clear to his readers, but he has a long history of investigative journalism and Bruce knows that.

While he doesn’t have to depend on it as much, Superman is a talented investigator. It might be interesting to look at him in that light alongside the World’s Greatest Detective.

Likewise, Batman’s mythology is a David and Goliath story. Batman is the utterly human hero who stands up for what’s right against even the most powerful opponents and never backs down. Of course, there have to be limits. Batman can’t just wipe the floor with Despero whenever he wants. That often means that such stories won’t be attempted to will pull in some deus ex machina to let Batman defeat his opponent, but with Superman nearby there’s actually a question as to whether Batman can succeed or whether he’ll need to call in Clark’s help.

The Superman/Batman series frequently used contrasting inner monologues to express the similarities and difference between the two men. While the simplicity of the device was sometimes too much, I think that it’s a natural part of such a title. That’s what initially led me to consider Cullen Bunn.

If we do decide to employ the dual narration strategy, we’ll need a writer who can bring a little more depth to it than this…

Bunn is an extremely elegant writer. Some of his books almost read like sections of prose, but he knows how to use his captions to sharpen the action in the rest of the panels. There’s no better example of this I’ve seen than Magneto. To say that Bunn’s Magneto is stripped down is an understatement. Many issues simply force the reader into close quarters with a man deprived of his power but not his rage and let us watch, wide-eyed. More procedural crime drama than superhero book, Magneto gets inside its characters’ heads and demonstrates the level of intensity that Bunn can bring out of the tension between two characters. I think taking a Magneto inspired look at Superman could be really interesting.

It’s also worth mentioning that Bunn is insanely prolific and possesses impressive artistic range. The guilt and rumination of Magneto are taken to the extreme in Bunn’s Godzilla: Cataclysm, but they appear alongside a real sense of insignificance and fear as well as just good old-fashioned daikaiju awesomeness. Swing the other way and you’ll find that Bunn is more than capable of writing fun, fast-moving comics without leaning on narration in books like Fearless Defenders. You’ll also see pretty much the opposite of Magneto in the numerous Deadpool books he’s written.

“Mythology is born of those things man cannot comprehend.” I can’t imagine Bunn’s interest in modern mythologies wouldn’t come into play on Batman/Superman.

But despite the sheer number of comics the man has written and the high-profile he’s managed to achieve, he’s one of the relatively few writers at his level who’s really written very little Batman or Superman, being something of a new player at DC. Not only does that seem wrong, but I’d imagine that Bunn would do even better writing DC’s most famous heroes together than apart. Admittedly, Bunn did do a lone arc on the original Superman/Batman, but it wasn’t necessarily a good example of what other stories featuring the characters would look like. That said, it was a really interesting premise, which bodes well for a series where the mandate would be to find new wrinkles in the Batman/Superman friendship.

Cullen Bunn has written Captain America and Sinestro. He’s handled Deadpool’s love of chimichangas and Magneto’s remembrances of the Holocaust. He’s launched Carnage minis and all-ages comics. Clearly the man has range. With a particular skill for bringing readers into the heads of his characters, why wouldn’t I expect great things when I turn over two characters who seem to thrive under writers who take the time to understand them and flourish in almost any genre. Batman/Superman is an opportunity to capitalize on two of the biggest icons in the modern world and allow a new and bright talent to help carry them into the future.

Tomorrow… The DCU’s Greatest Legends

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