<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/Newsarama/>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p>Let's face it, you never saw that coming, did you? By <i>that</i> we mean a brand-new <b>Sandman</b> project by Neil Gaiman (with J.H. Williams on art), announced Thursday at Comic-Con and probably the consensus choice for biggest comic book news of the show. <p>And a year ago at this time, we probably never really thought we'd see prequels to <b>Watchmen</b> either. The lid seems to be coming a little bit off projects or comic book happenings that we thought we'd never see, or never see again. So this all got us to thinking what other things that we once least expected or had many, many reasons to never expect might now be possible in light of these events? <p>Here's a look at 10 comic book projects or happenings we'll prudently not hold our breath for, but allow ourselves a faint, nearly comatose glimmer of hope that maybe someday, in the not <i>too</i> distant future, could become reality. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>
For many, there has never been a better creative team for Marvel's one-time <em>Strangest Teens of All!</em> than Claremont and Byrne, the men behind the Dark Phoenix Saga... as well as the Hellfire Club, Proteus and the original "Days of Future Past" two-parter. <p>In just over 30 issues, the two creators not only perfected the tone of the series, but created characters and concepts that would keep an entire franchise running for decades to come. Since then, the two have fallen out with each other, fallen out with Marvel well, more Byrne than Claremont, who until recently had active projects at the company and made all kinds of moves that would suggest that even the idea of the two coming together again for the X-Men would be a frustrating waste of time and energy for everyone involved. But stranger things have happened. <p>After all, the two did re-team (with Terry Austin as inker, no less!) in 2004's "The Tenth Circle" storyline for DC Comics' <em>JLA</em>, so maybe one day, if the stars aligned...
OK, so Neil Gaiman is returning to <b>Sandman</b> for one last untold story. But what about when he's done, finito, and his time with Morpheus is good and over? <p>Death, Dream's sister, was seen in the old DC Universe just prior to the reboot (albeit with Gaiman's blessing). John Constantine is on a freaking <i>Justice League team</i>. Swamp Thing is front-and-center in a conflict that promises to bring in DC's best and brightest heroes. Once Gaiman is truly done with Sandman and says he's walking away from the character forever, there is likely nothing stopping DC Comics from using the character in a new way in their new universe. <p>But would they dare? You can say "Um, yeah, <i>Before Watchmen</i> remember?" But Neil Gaiman, unlike Alan Moore, is clearly still on good terms with the publisher (he's doing a new miniseries for them next year, haven't you been paying attention?). Of course, Sandman started out on the fringes of the DC Universe before Vertigo even started, with now-defunct JSA characters pivotal to the tale of Morpheus and his legacy. <p>Perhaps this isn't a fourth wave title, but fifth or sixth, when Gaiman's <b>Sandman</b> is over? We've seen crazier things in the last year alone.
That Spider-Man's <i>other</i> father has never returned to his most famous creation since #38 back in 1966 remains somewhat confusing. After all, for all of his much-discussed secrecy and distaste for the comic industry, he's done a significant amount of work for Marvel after abandoning Spidey, including runs on <i>Rom Spaceknight</i> and co-creating Speedball and, of course, Squirrel Girl. <p>Despite his age he's 84 years old Ditko is reportedly still producing work, <a href="http://comicscomicsmag.com/2011/02/the-avenging-page-in-excelsis-ditko.html">releasing four self-published titles over the last few years alone</a>. Is there any way that Marvel could somehow convince him to revisit Peter Parker for a proper farewell? The world is finally ready for <a href="http://funnybookbabylon.com/2012/06/14/the-thrilling-adventures-of-the-absolutist-spider-man/">the Absolutist Spider-Man</a>!
<i>Kingdom Come</i>, the 1996 miniseries that presented an ethically questionable future for DC superheroes, has been acclaimed by everyone from critics to pop stars. The collection is still among DC's best-selling books, and there have even been collectible action figures made of the comic's many characters and concepts. <p>So it would make sense for the two creators of the series, Alex Ross and Mark Waid, to unite for another story set in that universe. Right? <p>There's only one problem: Ross and Waid can't seem to agree on what that story should be. Whether it's just a creative difference of opinion or the rumored animosity between the two creators, they've avoided working together again on anything, <i>especially</i> not <i>Kingdom Come</i>. <p>Fans of <i>Kingdom Come</i> have instead been presented with two different stories that dealt with those characters: <i>The Kingdom</i>, which involved Waid but not Ross (who departed from the project before publication); and "Thy Kingdom Come," the Ross-condoned story by Geoff Johns that featured <i>Kingdom Come</i>'s Superman visiting the <i>Justice Society of America</i>. <p>But wouldn't readers much rather see Ross and Waid <i>unite</i> to tell more brilliant stories set in that world?
... without Frank Miller or Alan Moore. <p>C'mon, after <b>Before Watchmen</b>, aren't these kind of obvious? <p><b>The Dark Knight Returns</b> is always going to have great commercial equity as a Batman sub-franchise, but after <b>The Dark Knight Strikes Again</b>, <b>All-Star Batman and Robin</b> and what-was-once-a-Batman story <b>Holy Terror</b> the value in seeing Miller return to the property might have peaked. <p>There are decades to explore in the world of the DKR <i>before</i> the events of the original series, and maybe a la <b>Before Watchmen</b>, exploration by some <i>other</i> top creators might be the most viable avenue. <p>Same with <b>Killing Joke</b>, which seems to have taken on new resonance with Batgirl's "recovery" in The New 52 world of Batman. Is there story and sales treasure to be mined here with new stories related to the landmark one-shot, now that DC has broken the seal on moving forward with Moore creations without him?
Nearly five years after the fact, "One More Day" remains a thorn in the side of some very vocal Spider-Man fans, who can't seem to forgive Marvel for undoing the marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson; returning him to his swingin' single days via a rather literal deal with the devil. <p>Clearly, a married Spider-Man wasn't something that Joe Quesada Marvel's former editor-in-chief and current chief creative officer was happy with, and it's unlikely that'll change while he's still at the company. <p>But, times change, and so do attitudes. At one point, Quesada stated that he was against the idea of a Marvel Universe/Ultimate Universe crossover, and now they're publishing <i>Spider-Men</i>. <p>Given the cyclical nature of comics, it's at least within the realm of possibility that we might one day see Spider-Man's marriage restored and at the very least, Peter and Mary Jane do seem to be getting increasingly closer in the Dan Slott-written <i>Amazing Spider-Man</i>, and with big changes promised in the near future of that series, maybe they're looking to get hitched again, for the first time.
OK, sure, even the most upset among us DC fans are willing to admit last year's New 52 relaunch gave us some pretty cool stories. But there's still a level of disappointment that DC threw out some of our favorite stuff to get there from fan-favorite characters like Ted Kord and Wally West to the beloved history of the JSA. <p>Yes, we know (because DC keeps telling us) that those "old stories" still exist. But the fact is, there will never be <i>new</i> stories told about them. <p>Or will there? <p>If Neil Gaiman can return to <i>Sandman</i>, then isn't there a possibility that more stories might be told about DC's <i>old</i> continuity? <p>Maybe the "main DCU" won't switch completely back (and we admit that maybe it shouldn't). But we can't help dreaming about reading at least an "alternate universe" story someday where Clark and Lois are still married and the JSA has some elder statesmen from the Golden Age. Hey if Spider-Man's lost baby named Mayday Parker could still be alive for years within <i>Spider-Girl</i>'s alternate continuity, couldn't the DCU we <i>used</i> to know still exist in a few ongoing Elseworlds stories someday?
But wait a minute, you say, Marvel announced they <i>are</i> doing this, how could this make a list of projects you don't really <i>ever</i> expect? Well, let's consider that Marvel announced this project now three long years ago, at <i>Comic-Con</i> 2009, and barring a trade paperback collection or two, the always media-welcome publisher have been nearly silent about it since. <p>One tends to make the educated guess given the high-profile announcement but shuttering of any real news or dialogue ever since, that Marvel may have learned the Rubik's Cube of intellectual property rights over Miracle/Marvelman was a tougher nut to crack than they originally anticipated. <p>If it's taken <i>this</i> long, there's natural skepticism all the myriad of ill-fitting pieces will <i>ever</i> be put in place for it to really happen.
<i>Marvel vs. DC</i>. Amalgam. <i>JLA/Avengers</i>. They've done it before, from Superman vs. Spider-Man to Batman vs. Hulk to the X-Men teaming up with the Teen Titans. So why couldn't it happen again? <p>Let's never mind the fact that execs on both sides of the aisle have all-but assured this will never happen, or at least not in the foreseeable future. A more salient reason might be the fact that multimedia is a much stronger force than it was in the '80s, '90s, or even the early part of the 21st Century. <p>Brand is everything in the entertainment business. Every comic fan knows (and wants to shake) someone who wonders when Batman or Superman will show up in an Avengers movie. Marvel doesn't want to encourage that line of thinking by having Superman and Captain America next to each other on a comic book cover. DC doesn't want to have Daredevil bumped up by Batman, either. What once was fun for the isolated fan is now potentially damaging for the mass audience. <p>Frankly, the billion-dollar audience of people seeing <b>Marvel's The Avengers</b> or <b>The Dark Knight Rises</b> are simply far too overpowering for the $300,000 group of fans reading <b>Batman</b> and <b>Avengers</b> to ever win out. At this point, this would most likely take a Warner/Disney merger to really make happen, and that would be one whole other can of unlikely worms.
Hey, we did say "highly unlikely" right in the headline. <p>The recent history between Alan Moore and DC Comics has not been a pleasant one, and the announcement earlier this year of "Before Watchmen" certainly didn't help. The writer whose time at DC included classics like "The Killing Joke," his <i>Swamp Thing</i> run, <i>V for Vendetta</i> and "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (and of course, <i>Watchmen</i>) has a significant grudge against the publisher, and, not only that, he's pretty much retired from comic books in general these days. <p>So, yeah. This probably won't happen. <p>But. This is a world and an industry when "probably won't happen" doesn't mean as much as it used to, and we're seeing things we never thought we'd see. And what would be a more unlikely outcome of the post-"Before Watchmen" reality than Moore actually returning to DC? <p>Maybe in the near and/or distant future, there's something of a regime change at DC to Moore's liking, or a major mea culpa that he would find satisfying, or maybe just an unexpected change of perspective from the writer himself, and maybe, <i>maybe</i> there's simply a DC story left that Moore wants to tell. <p>But, probably not. Though it's at least within the grand scheme of things that could potentially happen given the known laws of the universe. You have to give us that.