Now that we are entering 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. While DC has taken its fair share of risks, like <i>All-Star Western</i> and <i>Animal Man</i>, or more recently <i>The Movement</i> and <I>The Green Team</i>, they also know what pays the bills. Batman appears in <i>Batman</i>, <i>Batman and…</i>, <i>Batman: the Dark Knight</i>, <i>Detective Comics</i>, <i>Batman/Superman</i>, <i>Justice League</i>, and has guest-stars all over the DC Universe. <p>Superman is getting in on the action with the recent 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>However, this could all change come April 2014. In an interview with Geoff Johns, the prolific DC Comics writer and DC Entertainment CCO told Newsarama, "come April the DC Universe will be a very different place leading into and throughout 2014. The first phase of the New 52 is drawing to a close and as <b>Forever Evil</b> wraps up a new phase begins — one that will see the introduction, and re-introduction, of a lot of characters, concepts and a decidedly new center to the DC universe." That sure sounds like a lot of new series are going to be put into place in the second quarter of next year. <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>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 ... especially if he has a big role in the crossover, which has been hinted by <i>Teen Titans</i> writer (and Drake’s only current regular scribe) Scott Lobdell.
<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>Having second-generation heroes in the New 52 is tricky, given the collapsed timeline. 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, possibly giving a much-desired-in-some-circles entry point for Wally West and Donna Troy into the New 52. After all, we did get <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19552-wally-donna-latest-dc-all-access-whiteboard-clue.html>that white board tease</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.
<p>If a team-up book isn't in the cards for Batman, perhaps giving him his own team is. In the shakeup after <i>Forever Evil</i>, Bruce could decide he needs to go his own way with the heroes he trusts most, such as Catwoman and Cyborg, and perhaps even an unlikely choice or two like Shazam or Orion. It doesn't have to be a street level book to work, but overexposure certainly could be a problem (see the JLI reference above). Fans tend to want Batman on DC's primary team book and could resist moving him to head a sideline effort. <p>The Outsiders name has already been teased, as well, with both Katana and Green Arrow having interactions with them. Perhaps after the “Outsiders War” coming in Ollie’s book, they could appropriate the name. We hear there’s an opening for an United States of America based superteam coming up, as the JLA is moving to Canada in early 2014.
<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>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 is 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 – either way 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>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> is getting her own ongoing series this fall, 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."
<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.