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 first major heroine of color for DC, Vixen’s road to mainstream acceptance has been a long and bumpy one. Despite big plans for her in the late 80s (including quite possibly the best/worst comics tagline of all time), financial trouble, and the regressive nature of the industry means that Vixen has never held an ongoing series. While some might argue that the success of characters like Animal Man and Beast Boy decreases her individuality, I’d say that it only proves the value of the model and highlights what sets her apart and makes her worth supporting.

VIXEN BY MARGUERITE BENNETT

A rare African heroine, Mari Jiwe McCabe is an American supermodel who received her powers from the Tantu Totem, a religious artifact once held by her family. The Totem is a gift from the story-weaver, Anansi, that allows access to the abilities of any animal on earth and, with that power, Mari becomes Vixen.

I’d mention just how many powers Mari has access to, but I need to eat sometime. Needless to say she’s a powerhouse, in fact…

That’s a great set up for a series, and I haven’t even looked at the nearly shakespearean family drama that played out surrounding the Totem. The reliance on a family heirloom, the unique occupation, the diasporic element, and the sheer variety of powers make me feel like Vixen has a story to tell and I think there’s a good argument to be made that Marguerite Bennett is the right choice for this series.

Particularly as I’ve been looking over writers’ resumes to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything relevant for these articles, it’s struck me how long some comic careers are and how long you can be a part of this industry before really making your mark. On the other hand, there are a couple of writers from recent years that remind us how quickly careers can be made; Bennett is one of those. In the short year and a half that she’s been writing comics, Marguerite Bennett has proven to be a writer who possesses surprising strength at characterization, thematic depth, and beauty of description. Many of Bennett’s shorter works could be described as graphic poetry and she’s made her stance on the place of women in comics (namely wherever the action is) exceedingly clear.

Perhaps it’s connected to her relative inexperience or perhaps it’s just her particular brand of awesome, but the limits that tell most comic writers ‘there’s not enough space for that concept’ don’t seem to apply to Bennett. Her Lois Lane one-shot in particular was a whirlwind of fascinating ideas and, while some of them didn’t get much space to breathe, none of them felt forced or unjustified. Perhaps it’s just that Bennett knows she can introduce these concepts naturally and without overcrowding the book. That’s an impressive skill in itself.

…She’s been known to take a shot at Superman, with surprising success, from time to time…

Books like Batgirl #30, Superman: Lois Lane,and Earth 2 #27 also demonstrated the strength of Bennett’s character relationships. I especially appreciate the prevalence of female friendships and platonic relationships between characters of appropriate sexualities in Bennett’s work. I think in Vixen’s case this could be especially interesting, as her day job is something of a hyper-feminine one. Her peers are going to be women and, whatever their thoughts on the fashion industry, they’re going to be performing their femininity for a living. I can’t help but think that Bennett could do some interesting things with Mari’s feelings of belonging or non-belonging, not to mention any friendships she has with her fellow models and their feelings about their profession.

Then again, we could go the other way and set the series not in the American fashion industry but actually in Africa (what a concept)! DC’s Africa is largely unexplored and people are shockingly uninformed about what life in African nations looks like. While the added research time might be a drain on her already cramped schedule, I imagine Bennett would love to enlighten the comics reading audience a little.

While it would obviously be her decision, one thing I’d want to discuss with Bennett is Mari’s potential disconnect from Africa. Even in her traditional origin story, Mari fled Africa at a young age and has spent most of her life living in America. While she obviously has as much claim to her African heritage (she’s specified as coming from the fictional country of Zambesi) as any other character, I think that either setting presents a certain intrigue when juxtaposed against the largely Americanized Mari.

As you may have worked out, I think Vixen might benefit from a reboot in the New Year’s 52. I’m not set on it, but fans really haven’t had any easy way to follow Vixen’s adventures over the years. She’s tended to bounce from team to team, often as a side character, and I think it’s time we stood behind her and provided a more linear and unified history for readers to follow. Obviously the final decision would lie with Ms. Bennett, but, whether she decided to go with a soft or hard reset, I doubt the series would be particularly continuity heavy.

Mari’s never been afraid to throw her weight (or an elephant’s) around a bit. It’s not surprising that she’ll be the first DC super heroine to receive her own animated adaptation.

I also admit that one of the series I’d look to for inspiration would be Wonder Woman. While I think it’s a mistake to take superheroes out of that genre entirely, Vixen’s Totem opens up an entire world of African myths that readers likely know nothing about. I hate to say that I don’t see this series single-handedly revolutionizing culture, but imagine in ten years seeing a boom of African myths the way the way we’re seeing for Norse and Teutonic mythology now with Thor and this series being a part of that. While I think Vixen should be a little more grounded in the secular, even than Wonder Woman, introducing African gods and spirits into the series could give the series its own flair and provide new and interesting dramatic archetypes to a genre that’s played the ones its using to death.

Marguerite Bennett may not be a huge name just yet, but she commands a fairly devoted following and her name recognition continues to grow. Where a year ago she was writing one off issues, now she’s got a weekly at DC and a monthly she co-writes with Kieron Gillen at Marvel! Where will she be two years from now and why wouldn’t I want to hitch a character who deserves a greater platform to that horse?

Plus I know that Bennett would strive to do her justice. I admit that the idea for this project came from hearing her enthusiasm for a Vixen series and I’d be all too happy to support one from her. Bennett has been vocal about wanting to create textured, three-dimensional heroines and expanding the experience of our comic book icons. This series would give her that opportunity while engaging the skills she’s brought to her work thus far.

Even better, during the course of writing these articles, months after I set the preliminary slate of titles, Warner Bros. announced a Vixen webseries to join The Flash and Arrow. There’s never been a better time to give Vixen a series and the New Year’s 52 would capitalize on that. However, while I’d love to actually see any of these books with any of these creative teams, this is one that actually has a decent possibility of seeing print. What say you, internets? Would you drop $2.99 on a Vixen series? Care to see Marguerite Bennett at the helm? Now is the time to make your voice heard, cause this would be awesome.

Tomorrow… Find out how the west was really won…

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