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.

A few days ago I wrote about the importance of anthologies to a healthy DC Universe. Today we’re going to look at one of my favorite concepts introduced in one. Allow me to introduce you to…

 

ETERNITY BY JEFF LEMIRE

A reinvention of Quality Comics’ 1942 creation, Kid Eternity, Christopher Freeman was introduced to the world in DC’s National Comics: Eternity. National Comics was a short-lived anthology miniseries designed to spotlight some of DC’s older and less famous acquisitions. While the next three issues of the series were so-so, Jeff Lemire’s Eternity was amazing.

Kid Eternity was a child hero, much in the vein of Captain Marvel. Killed before his time, the nameless “Kid” was sent back to Earth to uphold justice with a guardian angel called Mr. Keeper and the power to summon any “good” historical figure by reciting the word “eternity”. After the fall of Quality Comics the nature of his powers earned him a place on the pre-crisis Earth-S as a supporting hero named Christopher Freeman in DC’s Captain Marvel revival, Shazam!

Summoning historical figures sounds a lot more fun before you meet them…

Kid Eternity would receive a painfully modern update from Grant Morrison, of all people, in the early nineties. The kindly boat captain Kid called grandpa was revealed to be a pedophile and Kid’s trip to heaven turned out to be a ruse. Instead of being returned to life by Saint Peter, Kid had actually gone to hell, and was sent back by Lords of Chaos seeking to make amends for Satan’s rebellion by helping mankind. As a result, Kid Eternity could not actually summon historical figures, but demons in disguise. Is that gritty enough for ya?!

He’d eventually return one more time in the last Post-Crisis Teen Titans volume and join the team, only to be viciously murdered by the Calculator. fuuuuuun…

Mr. Keeper mentions that “bad eggs” are his jurisdiction. Is this a play on “Kid’s” limitation to only summon “good” historical figures? How can he know which ones are bad eggs and what happens if he doesn’t obey these mysterious rules? That’s what makes it so wonderfully frustrating that there isn’t more Eternity!

Thankfully, when “Flashpoint” arrived, it ended that particular Kid Eternity’s cycle of horrific revivals and opened the door to Lemire’s take on the character. This version of Christopher Freeman is a little older. A young medical examiner and the son of a decorated police detective, Christopher Freeman is caught in the line of fire when his father is gunned down in a mysterious drive-by shooting. He briefly crosses over but survives the experience changed. Ever since he has had the ability to reach into the realm of the recently dead and pull their spirits back into the land of the living for 24 hours. Using his power, Christopher helps the dead solve their own murders.

Though this version of the character has only appeared in one thirty-two page story, Jeff Lemire wisely contained himself and told a story with plenty of room for building Christopher’s character and build a promising overarching mystery. You see, through his exploits, Christopher is tailed by an ominous man in black who calls himself Mr. Keeper. According to Keeper, there are rules that Christopher is not abiding by and will have to learn. Then the issue ends with a great cliffhanger. When I read it for the first time I put the issue down deeply disappointed that there wouldn’t be any more but too serene from a great one-shot comic to be angry.

Well, if you put me in charge of DC’s offerings, I’d definitely ask Lemire to come back to the concept. I love everyman protagonists, at least when they’re done right, and the sense I get is that most fans do too. Lemire’s take on Freeman definitely qualifies. While the demands of the format limit the amount of individualization he could fit in, I was highly impressed with how well Lemire expressed Christopher’s introverted nature. The story he chose to tell also did a great job of mixing humor and drama and showed a level of morality in Christopher that’s sorely needed in comics.

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You know, you think more comic writers would be good at writing introverts, but it’s an oddly rare phenomenon.

Admittedly Lemire has tended to write fairly big characters for DC, especially as a fairly new writer. His run on Animal Man was the breakout hit of the New 52 and before that he launched a short-lived volume of Superboy. Nonetheless, much of Lemire’s most applauded work has been on inventive books that take a more indie sensibility. He may have really solidified his fame on Animal Man, but before that he was earning acclaim for Sweet Tooth and afterwards he broke onto countless best of 2012 list with The Underwater Welder, his graphic novel about a man terrified of his impending fatherhood who discovers that he can communicate with the spirit of his own father at the bottom of the sea. With a resume like that, I think Lemire would be a great creator to put on a book with a lower profile, much like Scott Snyder on The Shade. Lemire’s clout is definitely enough to launch the book and I think the premise is strong enough to hold onto readers.

Now that Animal Man has wrapped and Lemire is in an even firmer position at DC, I’d love to see him turn his attention back towards this concept. It’s a great short, whose biggest shortcoming is the clawing desire for more. If I had my way, we’d do what we could to fix that.

Here's hoping...

Here’s hoping…

Tomorrow… Draw back your bow…

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