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.

In my article on Green Lantern I argued that it was time to return the classic Silver Age hero to his role as the galactic beat cop of this sector of space. Nonetheless, you can’t deny the inherent appeal of Green Lantern as a sprawling space opera.

Green Lantern is DC’s cosmic universe and there needs to be a book that opens that possibility outside of sector 2814. It’s also an entire corps of fantastically interesting characters, not just a couple of humans from Earth. Green Lantern Corps is our answer to both points. GLC has an entire universe to play with and the legacy of the Johns years behind it. I think it could be a huge seller for DC and I know just the writer to ensure it is.

 

GREEN LANTERN CORPS BY WARREN ELLIS

Warren Ellis is one of those big names in comics, the ones you pick up books for without asking what they’re about. Over the past twenty years he’s established himself as an incredibly talented and versatile writer. Ellis excels at taking basic concepts – superhero team, last good cop in town, journalist sees things as they are – and turning them into thought-provoking and immersive reading experiences. He’s capable of writing thrilling action as well as deeply introspective issues. In fact, he’s one of the best writers in the industry at ensuring that wild creativity never gets in the way of clear and resonant narrative. He’s also a writer who knows how to use the comic book form. Ellis actually coined the term “widescreen” comics to describe The Authority, while Fell was designed to use as many panels as possible to maximize storytelling power. He’s a top-tier talent and one that I expect would put a lot of eyes on this title.

Just the one? Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, Warren…

I imagine Green Lantern Corps as an ensemble book, featuring the breadth of the 7200-strong Lantern Corps, but focused around those who remain stationed on Oa: John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kilowog. While Ellis and his fellow cosmic writers could decide whether the Corps is run by the Guardians in this series, I would push for John Stewart to have the highest possible position within the Lantern hierarchy. If not the head of the Corps, I think Stewart should be prima inter pares.

For me, this is really John Stewart’s book. For a long time it’s felt like DC hasn’t known what to do with John. His straight-forward, anti-establishment, nearly blaxploitation characterization hasn’t felt relevant in years and he’s been bounced from architect, Guardian of the Galaxy to paraplegic to marine and back in his 45 years of fictional life. Perhaps most notably, DC was rumored to be thinking of killing John off a few years back, the ultimate vote of no confidence from the company. Regardless, I think there’s a way to combine John’s numerous incarnations into a workable whole.

It's time John Stewart solidified his place in the Green Lantern Universe. I think being Corps Leader, either literally or figuratively, would be a great evolution for his character.

It’s time John Stewart solidified his place in the Green Lantern Universe. I think being Corps Leader, either literally or figuratively, would be a great evolution for his character.

Harkening back to his original interpretation (with a dash of Van Jensen’s recent work on the character), I think our John is a community oriented architect who was chosen as Earth’s first Green Lantern by a dying Abin Sur. Though his backup, Hal Jordan, would earn fame by dethroning Thaal Sinestro, Stewart would prove the leader the Corps needed, eventually ceding his role as active Lantern of 2814 to Jordan and accepting a promotion to Corps Leader and a position where he was able to do good on a cosmic scale.

Stewart’s replacement, Guy Gardner, would also eventually make it to Oa full-time, perhaps trapped when a power-mad Jordan nearly destroyed the Corps and the final green ring fell into the hands of another. Whatever the reason, Guy joined Salaak, Kilowog and John on Oa, opening a bar and serving as Stewart’s partner.

John and Guy have very different styles and I imagine their interplay being a big part of the book. There’s a genuine respect between the meticulous architect and the headstrong former football coach, but their temperaments couldn’t be more different. Somewhere between the two is Kilowog.

As honor guard, inter-sector threats fall to John. Some he’s able to delegate, but those that require additional aid or involve a member of the Corps he deals with personally. Misuse of the emotional spectrum, planetary invasions, matters of internal affairs, that’s John and Guy’s beat.

I’d also like to see some old Lantern favorites and introduce some new ones. Whether John recruits a couple of standouts as his personal squad, teams up with the local Lanterns in the affected sector, or any other device that Ellis comes up with, I think that the Corps is a fascinating organization and if we’re going to call this series Green Lantern Corps, we better explore it.

Obviously Ellis would be a big draw to this book. I’d be thrilled to put John in the hands of such an accomplished writer and I think that doing so would be a big step towards positioning him as the major character I’d like him to be, however, that’s really only a small part of why I chose Ellis to handle this book. By reframing John as a community organizer, I think we give him a little of the bite he’s been lacking and I think that that anti-establishment take on John suits Ellis beautifully. He’s not a rabble-rouser, he respects his superiors (if any) and does his job well, but for me, John doesn’t do the job for his bosses, but for his subordinates and for the people under their protection. The dogged idealist is a character that Ellis is all too familiar with and having him write John would not only be fascinating to read but likely strong enough to provide a blueprint for writers going forward.

Guy Gardner: Crazy Person.

On the other hand, grab a random issue of Transmetropolitan and tell me you don’t want Warren Ellis to write Guy Gardner. Earth’s most cantankerous cosmic champion, Gardner would be a fantastic outlet for Ellis’ sense of humor, both as a character to laugh with and laugh at, but Guy is best when he acknowledges both the ridiculousness and the importance of acting rashly. Guy doesn’t pull punches, he doesn’t play politics, and he doesn’t worry about anything more than taking care of people who need it. That’s the classic Ellis hero, right there.

Ellis also seems uniquely suited to writing a Green Lantern title. Books like The Authority and Planetary proved that Ellis can produce enough wild, alien ideas to fill a universe and books like Trees and Transmet showed the world that, given such an idea, he can craft fantastic dramas, write insightful social commentary, and create worlds. While the Star Trek model is just one of an immense number of strategies Ellis could employ, it is a rule of science fiction, and not without reason, that encounters with an alien race should tell us something about our own. Ellis is really good at that. The thought that he could not only have free reign to do so in the DC Universe but also to introduce a huge number of new species, planets, and Lanterns into the DCU is incredibly exciting.

Somewhere between the concept of struggling to make a difference in a universe that’s really fond of needless cruelty and that of being the public face of a noble but inherently fascistic army of immense power Warren Ellis seems to fit in perfectly. Ellis did a fantastic job on “Dark Heart”, his thrilling and hilarious episode of Justice League Unlimited, and this is a classic DC series that really seems to play to his strengths. I doubt it would be a traditional take on GLC, but you don’t bring on a visionary creator to get traditional comics. More than most of the New Year’s 52, I’m really sad that this comic isn’t actually happening. The characters are great, the writer seems beautifully suited to the project, and we’d be working with one of the best writers in comics today, what more could an editor ask for?

Darwyn Cooke GLC

Tomorrow… Happy Valentine’s Day!

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