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.

There is a question for DC, a question that defines eras. It is a question that seems ever to go deeper. Just when you think you’ve solved it you turn around and it’s staring you in the face again. Every iteration of the DC Universe must give an answer eventually and, with only a few days left, it’s time for the New Year’s 52 to answer four very simple words.

Who is Donna Troy?

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WONDERS BY KELLY SUE DECONNICK

As we saw with Starfire and the Outsiders, DC has had trouble fitting the first generation Teen Titans into their continuity. Finding a place for Cyborg and Starfire has been difficult ever since their Titans disbanded, but no one can hold a candle to Wonder Girl. There’s a certain charm to the labyrinthine twists and turns that make up Donna Troy’s continuity, but I admit that I can’t blame DC for choosing the much simpler and more modern Cassie Sandsmark, the second Wonder Girl, when they relaunched their continuity.

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Though her presence was a quiet one, Donna Troy was, in many ways, the heart of the New Teen Titans team.

Still, while she didn’t receive quite the demand that Cassandra Cain or Wally West did, fans were eager to have Donna Troy back. Meanwhile, Cassie’s origin as wayward daughter of Zeus, became redundant when Wonder Woman’s past was revealed as a lie. It was hardly the worst Cassie suffered in the reboot, but I will say that I liked the idea of calling back to Cassie’s first adventure where she gained her powers from stolen Olympian relics.

Both characters have problematic origins for DC and, at least in the form they’re best known now, both have failed to move out of the shadow of their mentor the way Kon-El, Tempest, or the Robins have. Nonetheless, both of these characters are incredibly beloved and they’re not loved for their powers or their origin stories, they’re loved for who they are. Donna and Cassie have both reached that important status where their fans know them and understand how they’ll react in a given situation.

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Cassie Sandsmark was born to be an academic not a warrior, but with time she’s become a capable leader and a true hero.

The problem is that that group is very small and neither one of them has more narrative power than the concept of Wonder Girl in the minds of the average comic fan, much less the general public. In fact, I think you’ll find that many characters, for better or worse, are caught in a war between who they are and what elements of them have seeped into the public consciousness. The X-Men will always survive because their basic concept is broad enough to explore numerous avenues and stronger than nearly anything a writer could do to them at this stage. Likewise, other characters, like Aquaman, can receive all manner of stories, but they’re largely washed out by the strength of the audience’s preconceived notions. The challenge before us with the Wonder Girl concept is that DC has neither a strong enough justification for it nor a way to build the characters higher than the shadow of that concept. But I think there’s a way to do it.

"In that one moment, every little girl flies." - Kelly Sue DeConnick

“In that one moment, every little girl flies.” – Kelly Sue DeConnick

In place of the complicated origins of previous incarnations, I propose that we introduce both Cassie Sandsmark and Donna Troy, fresh. When we meet the girls they’re strangers. I think Donna’s about sixteen. Perhaps she’s a natural athlete with a passion for photography and social justice, attending a normal high school. Cassie starts younger, somewhere in the twelve to thirteen range. I imagine her based more heavily on her original incarnation, a wonderfully dorky tomboy enthralled by myths and legends. They’ve never met and they have little in common. The one thing that connects them is their love for Wonder Woman.

This is a series about the girls who saw Wonder Woman and felt like the world opened up for them. Brought together by fate, they’re spreading Wonder Woman’s message of peace and equality.

Obviously, we’ll need a great story to open this series, something to build credibility. I think calling in a heavy hitter villain would be a strong way forward. Ares comes to mind, but it’s a bit obvious.

I’d actually be really interested in seeing what these characters can do without super powers. Part of me really likes the idea of a series that tells teenaged girls that they can be heroes just as they are. That said, I wouldn’t object if our writer decided to give them powers. After all, it’s not entirely fair to depower two female powerhouses. How we could give them powers is pretty open. They could both gain powers in the same fashion, tying them together, a play on Cassie’s borrowed artifacts, perhaps, or they could each discover some means of empowering themselves along the way, perhaps Donna could find some power connected to the Titans or reclaim the Darkstar name.

Regardless, what’s most important to me is that this be a series that shows that Wonder Woman makes a real difference just by being, just by fighting, and that sisterhood, even elective sisterhood, is something precious and powerful.

It took me all of a second to link Kelly Sue DeConnick to that title. If you’ve ever heard DeConnick speak, you know that there’s no more fervent advocate for the power of women and, especially, girls. DeConnick is a blood-haired embodiment of the comic industry patriarchy’s nightmares: possessed of a fiery spirit, a seemingly limitless resolve, and a heart so full of love and support you can feel it from behind the coldest jab or the sharpest sass.

Though she’s been a part of the comics industry for a long time, DeConnick took her rightful place on the stage when she became the writer of Captain Marvel. Opening each of her two volumes with a stunningly beautiful monologue, DeConnick wasted not a second establishing herself as a writer to be watched and proof of every criticism of the male dominated comic scene you’ve ever heard. It’s worth mentioning that DeConnick’s pure talent can easily be eclipsed by her contributions to comic book feminism, but she could probably be writing Captain America or Amazing Spider-Man if she really wanted and it would be amazing too. Nonetheless, DeConnick is perhaps the greatest example of a powerful advocate for equality in comics and, even more importantly, probably one of the writers who most, and most naturally, integrates such ideas into her work.

DeConnick filled every word and every beat of Captain Marvel with such force and conviction that she barely has to say what she means. You know Carol Danvers.

I’m not winning any points for originality in assigning DeConnick a series about badass teenage girls, but I know she’d do some incredible things with it. DeConnick would also be a big help to the new series. Having made her name at Marvel and Image, DeConnick’s stature would be a big draw to the book. I also would have to expect that many fans would be understandably skeptical of such a different take on the characters. Though I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to please 100% of comic fans, I imagine that the fans’ trust in Kelly Sue would help ease the transition from one iteration of the characters to the next and buy us some good will and time with which to endear the characters to readers.

While it would totally be up to DeConnick, I think it would be awesome if we also expanded the roster to include other, new Wonder Girls. Perhaps the tension between the Young Justice and Teen Titans Cassies could be ended by separating them into two distinct characters. Maybe it would be worthwhile to consider rebooting Etta Candy. Maybe we could create a couple of new characters to fill holes in the DCU’s representation of women. Part of what makes this idea so exciting to me is that it’s a chance to really try some new things without necessarily having to worry about cancellation the moment something doesn’t play.

I’ve sat in panels surrounded by women listening to DeConnick talk directly to them. Even as a spectator, it’s inspiring. This book is about how far girls can go when someone believes in them. DeConnick believes in them and I think that would make for an amazing series.

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Tomorrow… A paradox. Gotham City’s finest…

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