New 52 NEEDS New Stars, Can These Obscure Characters Help?

<i>by <a href=>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>With <a href=>six of the "New 52" titles ending in May</a> (including <i>Ravagers</i>, pictured) and two wrapping up the month before, it's clear that DC Comics needs to introduce some new series if they're going to stay at 52 ongoings a month. <p>Given that the last few new books to be announced included series starring lesser-known characters like Vibe and Katana , all bets appear to be off when it comes to which characters in DC's massive vault of superheroes, supervillains and those in-between will get their time in the New 52 Spotlight. <p>They're even bringing Space Cabbie back in Keith Giffen's <em>Threshold</em> series. <em>Space Cabbie</em>! <p>With that in mind, could any of the following obscure characters see the light of day when DC looks to replenish their superhero line following the latest wave of cancellations? <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


Often played as a figure of fun trapped in the era he was created, Brother Power (the Geek) has one thing very strongly in his favor: <a href=>Neil Gaiman resurrected him for a <em>Swamp Thing</em> annual once upon a time</a>. <p>Seriously, if Grant Morrison can prove that there's still life left in Animal Man, surely someone can take the confused rag doll infused with the peace and love of the 1960s brought into more contemporary times by the man behind <em>Sandman</em> and come up with a comics masterpiece that amazes and inspires us on a regular basis?


A relatively-recent addition to the DC ranks, <i>Enginehead</i> was a 2004 miniseries by Joe Kelly and Ted McKeever that missed the mark with readers so far that what was originally announced as an eight-issue run was shortened to six mid-stream. <p>It's a shame, because both the series and the character in general literally, a crime-fighting machine built by Dr. Emil Hamilton and other familiar DCU scientists had a lot going for them, something that would appear to be even more the case in the relatively robot-free New 52 Universe. <p>Add in the fact that DC's "The Dark" line of titles would appear to offer better support for a series that refused to take a straight-forward look at the idea of robotic super heroics and Cyborg's place of prominence in the Justice League drawing attention to the plight of the technological entities and you have something that might actually work better second time around.


Though <em>Sword of Sorcery</em> is ending, if DC wants to give fantasy another try (similar to how they followed <i>Men of War</i> with <i>G.I. Combat</i>), they've got more series ready to revamp to fill the need. <p>Take, for example, this 1986 series by Doug Moench and Pat Broderick about a Vietnam veteran who crosses over from our world to another world filled with magic, cosmic beings who embodied abstract ideas like love, hate, bliss and rage, and outfits that would've looked out of place in the lowest-budget movie adaptation of <em>Dungeons and Dragons</em> that you could imagine. <p>Reading very much like the outgrowth of the 1970s "cosmic" Marvel titles mixed with half-remembered takes on Tolkein and Roger Zelazny, <em>Lords</em> lasted one miniseries and a follow-up one-shot before disappearing, seemingly forever... unless DC decides that the world is ready for a return trip into the "ultra-realm" in time for another round of <em>Hobbit</em>-fever.


Sure, so this team of four millionaire teenagers determined to share their wealth with those less fortunate created by Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, with Jerry Grandenetti on art may have only appeared in one solo adventure before becoming better known as footnotes in DC history (they've shown up in limbo during Grant Morrison and Chas Truog's <em>Animal Man</em> run, and also as background characters in <em>Ambush Bug</em>), but that just means there's so much more material to be mined from them! <p>In this political climate, who couldn't find story material in the idea of four underage rich kids trying to heal social ills through spending? Every single issue could get free publicity by outraging Fox News and provoking calls of socialism, if done correctly.


It's unclear whether or not DC has any plans to use the Milestone Media characters after the recent <em>Xombi</em> and <em>Static Shock</em> series, but if they do, we can only hope that they choose Dwayne McDuffie and Mark Bright's horrifyingly spot-on parody of the original 1970s Luke Cage, Buck Wild. <p>Embodying almost every clich&#233; about comics' attempt to jump onto the blaxploitation wagon, Wild real name Rufus T. Wild, of course possessed "belief-defyin' strength" and occasionally used a growth formula that turned him into "Buck Goliath." <p>While, yes, this series would have every single possibility to turn into an entirely offensive run of lazy clich&#233;s and even lazier jokes about the same, it could also in the right hands be something that managed to poke fun at, and unpick, all kinds of racial stereotypes and explore the way that heroes of color are <em>still</em> marginalized in mainstream comic books.


Let's be honest: Binky was never really that much more than a thinly-veiled rip-off of Archie Comics' Archie Andrews, but that didn't stop him for having a remarkably long life at DC. First appearing in 1948's <em>Leave It to Binky</em>, he went on to appear regularly through 1958, before reappearing 10 years later for another nine-year run, clearly Binky had more staying power than could've been expected of him. <p>With Archie getting a lot of heat from a mixture of <a href=>celebrity guest appearances</a> and <a href=>topical storylines</a>, could DC leverage some of the same appeal into a Binky revival? If successful, they could also <a href=>bring Scooter back</a>, as well.


Perhaps a sign of the differing moral climes of both DC and Marvel, while the latter's gun-toting vigilante has been a constant presence on the racks since the mid-80s, DC's Wild Dog has been somewhat less successful, managing just one miniseries and a serial in the short-lived <em>Action Comics Weekly</em>. <p>The creation of <em>Road to Perdition</em>'s Max Allen Collins and Terry Beatty, Jack Wheeler, was, like Frank Castle, also an ex-military man with a loved one in this case, his girlfriend killed by criminals, leading to a one-man rampage against organized crime, but clearly the hockey-mask-and-dog-t-shirt combo wasn't as eye-catching as a big white skull on a black sweater look. <p>The solution is obvious: Bring Wheeler into The New 52, and, post-girlfriend-murder, give him a snappier outfit. Voila: A brand new crime book just waiting to blow readers away. (With awesomeness, not bullets.)


If the breakdancing Vibe can see a revival 30 years after the heyday of the musical fad that spawned him, then surely Anima created by novelists Elizabeth Hand and Paul Witcover for DC's 1990s <em>Bloodlines</em> crossover event can be brought back as part of some nascent grunge revival. <p>Yes, Anima was DC's attempt to tap into the movement spearheaded by the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden; a young teenager given the ability to "become the embodiment of mankind's rage and masculine drive," as <a href=>Wikipedia puts it</a>. <p>Given that grunge's influence has never entirely gone away from mainstream American rock, is it really that fair that comics should be starved of the influence of comics' favorite super powered Riot Grrl?


If <em>Guardians of the Galaxy</em> raises the public's hunger for superheroic action set in space beyond where even the <em>Green Lantern</em> titles can fulfill it, this 1984 miniseries created by Nicola Cuti and Tom Mandrake is ready to step in and take the extra load. <p>Not content with saddling its lead with a spectacular hook he's the universe's most wanted man, but he doesn't know why Cuti and Mandrake also gave him an amazingly old-fashioned sci-fi name ("Polaris Spanner," no, really) and an ingenious super-power called "castling" that allowed him to teleport short distances, but only if there was someone else for him to swap places with. <p>With the potential for <em>Star Wars</em>-esque space hives of scum and villainy, strategic escapes and a mystery at the center of the whole thing, <em>Spanner's Galaxy</em> is a revival that the world needs... Or, at least, one that could be pretty fun to read, if done right.


Barely remembered these days, Ultraa was an occasional guest in <em>Justice League of America</em> in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with his gimmick being, essentially, that he was Superman who had landed on <em>our</em> Earth, without any other fantastic elements to compete with. <p>Although he could be revived as a character in Grant Morrison's <em>Multiversity</em>, the central idea behind the character may be more potent if played entirely straight, giving creators the chance to create a social satire of our society that just so happens to include an alien from another world who wants to try and make the world a better place. <p>Bring in a writer who can write both comedy and superpowered adventure, and DC might just have the next big superheroic sitcom on their collective corporate hands.

New 52 NEEDS New Stars, Can These Obscure Characters Help?

Date: 08 November 2012 Time: 08:42 PM ET