The Changing Face of the DC Universe

Now that we are well into year three of the New 52, some trends seem to be emerging: Not surprisingly, DC seems to do best with books that have strong ties to their most popular properties. <p>While DC has taken its fair share of risks, like the upcoming <i>Aquaman and the Others</i>, they also know what pays the bills. Batman appears in <i>Batman</i>, <i>Batman and…</i>, <i>Batman: the Dark Knight</i> (though that one is ending), <i>Detective Comics</i>, <i>Batman/Superman</i>, <i>Justice League</i>, and has guest-starred all over the DC Universe, and is now getting a weekly series in <b>Batman: Eternal</b>. <p>Superman is getting in on the action with last year's launch of a third ongoing solo series, <i>Superman Unchained</i>, plus the launch of another team-up series for the Man of Steel, <i>Superman/Wonder Woman</i>. <p>Things are changing, however. As the landscape of the DC Universe shifts thanks to the events of <b>Forever Evil</b>, new characters are stepping into the spotlight, books will change, get canceled, and debut. Some will be obvious, like the just-announced <i>Secret Origins</i>, some will be somewhat surprising like <i>Sinestro</i>, and some will be downright shocking like <i>Aquaman and the Others</i>. <p>So with that in mind, here’s ten possibilities for future 'waves' of New 52 titles, sticking this time around with what we think of as “low hanging fruit” - titles that would be easy for DC to introduce, and <i>should</i> be easy for DC to sell.


<p>For several years, the Hard Traveling Heroes of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, and Oliver Queen, Green Arrow, paired up to take on both cosmic foes and earth based social issues - and the danger of Ollie's spiced chili. <p>With the <i>Arrow</i> TV show bringing Green Arrow to the popular eye, pairing him with any one of the Lanterns could give DC a chance to bring a socially aware book into play, ala the Red/Green teen books. It also gives a much-needed grounding to Green Lantern, who has been so wrapped up in epic space battles and multi-colored corps that he seems to often forget he also happens to be <i>human</i>. This one might be a long shot, but the right creative team could make it work.


<p>Once DC figures out which Lobo is actually the main man, he could find his way into the roster of New 52 titles. There is a definite 90s vibe about certain sections of the DC's world, and nothing typifies that time period as much as this parody character whose current identity crisis is, in a way, a commentary on the drastic shifts that have left some longtime fans of DC Comics extremely unhappy. If DC is ready to unleash more anti-heroes in the wake of <i>Forever Evil</i>, Lobo could be contracted to make a hit-which is right up his alley anyway. <p>And when it comes to publicity, the redesign of Lobo got it in spades. DC has the opportunity now to capitalize on that reaction, and use this Lobo as a parody of today’s teen action hero, similar to how the old Lobo was used in the 90s, and even how Superboy Prime was used as a parody of comic book fans themselves.


<p>Taking the place of Martian Manhunter in the formation of the <i>Justice League</i> in the New 52, Vic is the only main member of the team without a solo book. He has previously been most closely associated with the Teen Titans (partly due to cartoons) and seems to have nailed down a role as a solid supporting character. <p>Unfortunately, that makes him a hard pick to hold his own series, with his personality often being as cold as his metallic body. To make a Cyborg series fire on all cylinders, the creative team would need to find an angle, possibly his desire to hold onto his humanity – something even harder thanks to the events of “Trinity War.” The February solicitations do tease a big return for Cyborg, though, and he <i>is</i> once again one of the stars of a DC Animated movie with the upcoming <i>Justice League: War</i> so anything could happen.


<p>For an entire generation of comic book fans, Tim Drake <i>is</i> Robin (and not for nothing, he was star of a very long-running title pre-New 52). <p>Amazingly smart (he figured out Bruce's secret entirely on his own) and a natural leader, Tim has the skills of a young Batman but without some of the obsessive baggage. Given room to explore his adjusted role in the New 52, Red Robin could be an option in the post-<i>Forever Evil</i> DCU. <p>As a character that has had to investigate the past, battle the future, and try to find his place in the present, Tim is a unique representation of what has been, what is, and what's to come for the DC Universe. He does reportedly have a strong role to play in <b>Batman: Eternal</b>, the new weekly series, but come on, DC, you can't go wrong with <i>one</i> more Bat-title, right?


<p>No matter how popular the idea of the brooding Dark Knight is, readers - and especially casual fans - love seeing Batman teamed up with their favorite DC heroes. Given the popularity of the recent Cartoon Network series with both younger and adult viewers and the fond nostalgia for the often-outrageous Bob Haney and Jim Aparo stories of the 1970s, adding a Batman team-up book makes sense and gives DC a chance to use its deep bench paired with a popular character. <p>The digital-first <i>Batman ‘66</i> likewise shows that a lighter take on the character still works, and still appeals to fans. A <b>Brave and the Bold</b> relaunch has enormous potential to introduce other characters from the fringes of the DC Universe to new readers, as well, by giving them the familiar face – er, cowl – of Batman to guide them along.


<p>Here’s the thing about Earth-3 villains – they all have a virtuous New 52 Earth counterpart. The revelation that Atomica was an undercover member of the Crime Syndicate means one thing - her heroic doppelganger <i>should be</i> waiting in the wings somewhere, perhaps to play a key role in the conclusion of <i>Forever Evil</i>. <p>Ray Palmer, Ryan Choi, or perhaps Atomica’s good twin – any way you go, The Atom is a classic superhero ID with a classic power set, with a longstanding seat at the Justice League table (even though his seat was usually ON the table). <i>Hawkman</i> and <i>Firestorm</i> had their chances, it’s time for The Atom’s star turn.


<p>Having second-generation heroes in the New 52 is tricky, given the collapsed timeline - not that it stopped Batman from still having Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne all as sidekicks in that span. However, if DC is ready to do it, now may be the time given the "death" of the Justice League in <i>Forever Evil</i>. <p>An outed Dick Grayson could try to rebuild his life by getting together with other heroes of the same age, especially since Wally West is now coming into the New 52, and <a href=>Donna was teased on that white board</a>. <p>Throw in Cyborg and his official league endorsement, and you have a natural extension of the franchise, although <i>Justice League International</i> serves as a cautionary tale that the words “Justice League” do not necessarily guarantee success.


Wally West is back in April's <b>The Flash Annual #3</b>, but we have next to no idea just what he'll be like when he makes his New 52 debut. <p>One thing is sure, though, fans are <i>very</i> excited to see Wally. With Aquaman getting a second title, why not have two Flash titles, one for each? <p>If the Flash featured on the cover to the Annual is in fact Wally, it's clear he'll stand out from Barry. Keeping Barry primarily in Central City, Wally can be more of a globe-trotter - especially if they team him up with other "middle" heroes as we suggested before. <p>Fans wanted Wally West, and Wally West came back. Now, we want Wally to have his own book. Come on, DC, it's your chance to <i>really</i> make fans happy.


<p>You don't get to take up valuable real estate in DC's flagship title unless you are being primed for your own series. The newer, more aggressive Billy Batson is probably the best bet in this entire list to be a part of the next wave of New 52 titles, especially since we know Geoff Jones just moved off <i>Aquaman</i>. <p>Since DC has pushed "the Big Red Cheese" as far away from Jeff Smith's all ages take as possible, picturing this as part of the magic-oriented sub-line of books doesn't require the wisdom of Solomon. The contrast of a young boy living in an adult’s world – especially now that he’s been corrupted by Pandora’s Box, is ripe for exploration, and we think we’ll be seeing this one soon. It is also worth noting that Shazam replaced Aquaman in the roster for the New 52-based animated feature <i>Justice League: War</i>, further lending some hope to his fans that he'll be in the solo spotlight soon.


<p>One of DC's most well known and popular villains, Lex has held his own as a feature character in the past. Done poorly, he's jealous, insane, and criminal. But if portrayed as a man who believes he is humanity's best hope who refuses to be bound to traditional morals, Luthor has plenty of potential as the star of his own book. Seeing him foiled by Superman and others, even when doing the right thing, would be an intriguing take. <p>DC has really opened the door to Luthor in the New 52 in a way they never did before. <i>Harley Quinn</i> just got her own ongoing series this past fall, <i>Sinestro</i> is launching in April, and Luthor is at the center of <i>Forever Evil</i>, seemingly being positioned to save the world from the Crime Syndicate. Lex Luthor, Super Man could be a great point from which to launch a title. <p>Geoff Johns hinted at as much in our recent interview, telling fans, "Keep your eyes on Lex. He’s the one to watch."

The NEW 52's Low-Hanging Fruit: 10 No-Brainer Titles DC Should Launch

Date: 14 January 2014 Time: 07:00 PM ET