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.

What started as a one-off gag in 1992 has become one of 2014’s best selling comics. There’s really no denying it, comic fans love Harley Quinn. As she quickly becomes DC’s Deadpool and awaits a big screen debut in Suicide Squad, a Harley solo is a no brainer. I wish it were half as easy to float a superhero comedy series starring another character!

While it’s not necessarily clear exactly what format Harley Quinn should employ, choosing the writer was one of the easiest choices of the New Year’s 52. So, without further to do, I give you…

 

HARLEY QUINN BY ADAM WARREN

When you’re looking for the iconic Harley Quinn, there’s little to no competition: it’s the work of her creator, Paul Dini. The writer of almost all of Harley’s original appearances, her stint in Gotham City Sirens, and the classic “Mad Love”, Dini’s take on Quinn is the gold standard for the character. Much as DC’s tried to play her as a sociopathic anti-hero, Harley works best when there’s an element of whimsy to her villainy. In fact, when I wrote the previous sentence I initially referred to her as Quinn, but Harley passes the villain sympathy test (A villain who feels more natural when referred to by their first name is usually non-threatening enough to be sympathetic) and calling her by her last name makes me sound like Batman.

That fact is important. It means that readers want to root for Harley, want her to be the hero of her story, even if she’s not 100% on the side of the angels. That means that we’re looking for a relatable supervillain comedy book that can hold reader interest without becoming too serious. Yeah, this isn’t hard.

If you’ve read Empowered, you know that the book is practically an application to write the series I just described. Though it started as a series of reluctant bondage commissions, writer/artist Adam Warren’s discomfort with the subject matter eventually evolved into one of comics’ most lovable heroes: Elisa Megan Powers, the eternally put upon Empowered. Empowered is the joke of the Super-Homies, her world’s douche bag equivalent to the Justice League. Uncomfortable with her body, constantly getting captured, and unable to get a sliver of respect, Emp remains one of the most charming and inspiring heroes in Capes precisely because of how hard it is for her. As the series has gone on, Warren has created one of the most interesting and vivid superhero universes around, filled to the brim with great characters and intriguing ideas.

Though it started as a gag strip, Empowered has enormous heart. Opposite in temperament as they may be, I can’t help but see some of the same charm in Emp as I do in Harley.

Empowered is hilariously funny and shockingly touching. You’ll want to give even the most obnoxious characters a hug now and again. It’s also full of beautifully realized female characters and men who are treated as heroes for challenging the bullshit society expects of them. Best of all are Empowered and her boyfriend, Thugboy, who are, bar none, the cutest and healthiest superhero couple I’ve ever seen.

Having written the best couple in comics today, I’d be fascinated to see Warren’s take on the absolute worst. For all her wonderful qualities, Harley has bad taste when it comes to love. Her relationship with the Joker is, in my opinion, one of the most important in comics, having the bravery to peel back the curtain of what could be a classic gag dynamic and look straight into the eyes of abuse, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation. I think readers are eager to see Harley move on from her horrible ex, but, regardless of what direction Warren would take the series, I think it’s important that Mistah J remain at least a recurring part of it, both for marketing reasons and for the incredible opportunity to call out abusive relationships.

Healthy…

Harley also has a complex romantic relationship with Poison Ivy, who, while much kinder to her, isn’t a great influence either. I think that it would be a shame to neglect Harley and Ivy’s relationship, however, I definitely want this series to be Harley Quinn not Harley Quinn’s Lovers. Harley has a tendency to look for someone to direct her energy, but we want her to be the agentive character in her own series.

Though his stylized pencil drawings are rather unique, Warren can draw traditional Capes as well as anyone. I think his distinctive quirks would suit Harley perfectly.

I think a great way to do this would be to develop a supporting cast that’s specific to Harley, a group of friends who help her be healthy and can give her someone to play off of. I honestly can’t think of someone I’d trust to build Harley’s supporting cast more than the creator of Ninjette and the Caged Demon Wolf, VIOLATOR OF WORLDS!

I imagine Harley Quinn as a madcap action comedy, following Harley’s mercurial whims. Whether she’s trying to play it straight, steal something that’s caught her fancy, or right some wrong that offends her joyous sensibilities, I can’t imagine it not being something of a roller coaster ride. I also think that the most crucial element of the series will be the ability to sympathize with Harley, to know and love her as a person. Warren excels in sneaking these kinds of powerful heartfelt moments into ostensibly comedic stories.

It also doesn’t hurt that Warren is a gifted artist with a fun and distinctive style that would suit Harley nicely. I’d potentially be willing to let him redesign Harley’s costume to fit the series he’s writing, but I’d definitely lean towards elements from the original.

Warren and Harley seem like a perfect mix and, while it might lead to some tragic delays on Empowered, if I were looking to put the best creative teams on the best books, there’s really no doubt that Warren would get the call.

Tomorrow… Eht Ssertsim fo Cigam!

Advertisements