The Changing Face of the DC Universe

Now that we are nearing the year four mark 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 recently launched <i>Aquaman and the Others</i>, they also know what pays the bills. Batman appears in <i>Batman</i>, <i>Batman and Robin</i>, <i>Detective Comics</i>, <i>Batman/Superman</i>, <i>Justice League</i>, <I>Justice League 3000</I>, the weekly <I>Batman Eternal</I> series and has guest-starred all over the DC Universe, with no less than 3 new Bat-inspired or Gotham series launching this fall.. <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 cancelled, and debut. August 2014 sees the end of six ongoing series for DC, leaving the door open for new names to round out the New 52. Some will be obvious, like <i>Secret Origins</i> and <I>Grayson</I>, some will be somewhat surprising like <i>Sinestro</i> and <I>Star-Spangled War Stories</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.

GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW

<p>For several years, the hard traveling heroes of Hal Jordan, 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 helping Green Arrow to new found popularity, pairing him with Hal again would give DC a chance to bring a socially conscious book back into play. <p>It also would provide a much-needed grounding to Hal Jordan, 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>. <p>Adding an extra layer of intrigue to this classic dynamic would be the fact that Hal would be the rogue half of the pair if he used his Lantern powers on Earth. <p>This one might be a long shot, but the right creative team could make it work.

LOBO

<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.

CYBORG

<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 a unique angle, possibly his desire to hold onto his humanity. <p>But with a recently announced role in 2016's <I>Superman vs. Batman</I>, setting him up for full-blown big screen <i>Justice League</i> membership, now might time to finally time to give Cyborg his comic book S.T.A.R. turn (get it?)

RED ROBIN

<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 have a strong role to play in both current weekly series: <b>Batman: Eternal</b> and <b>Futures End</b>, but come on, DC, you can't go wrong with <i>one</i> more Bat-title, right?

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD

<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.

THE ATOM

<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 was recently featured in <I>Batman/Superman</I>, with the Man of Steel encouraging him to pursue a career as a superhero after first appearing in <i>Frankenstein</i>. 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 chance. With a reference like Superman on your resume, Palmer-as-Atom is bound to get his foot in the door - and possibly a series - with no problem.

BOOSTER GOLD

When DC revealed their September <b>Futures End</b> event one-shots, it didn’t go unnoticed that Booster Gold was the character featured in a solo one-shot that didn’t have their own solo series prior to September. <p>Of course, now both October and November solicitations have come and gone, and still nothing. <p>Time travel seems to be en vogue (at both major publishers) at the moment, so DC’s resident guy-from-the-future might have found his moment. <p>Add to that the coming return of Ted Kord in the pages of <b>Justice League</b> and … well, you know where we’re going with this…

SHAZAM

<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 Geoff Jones isn't writing as many titles as he was when New 52 began. <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>And all of this isn't even <i>mentioning</i> Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson... well, until right here.

THE SANDMAN

<p>The dream king is in the middle of a return with <I>Sandman: Overture</I>, but what happens next? It's been presumed that this limited series will act as Neil Gaiman's swansong with the creation, but that doesn't mean it's an end to the Endless; perhaps it's a new beginning? <p>We've already seen John Constantine make a high-profile transition from the world of Vertigo to the New 52. And Gaiman has already made a deal with a publisher to intertwine a character of his into company-owned continuity: Angela at Marvel. And it's not like Sandman and his fellow Endless have been Vertigo exclusive - both Sandman and Death have made high-profile appearances in DCU continuity. Maybe it's time for these visitors to move permanently? <p>And in terms of the possibilities at New 52, Sandman has enormous cache among fans and integrated him (and his family of characters) into the New 52 could yield some immense publicity (and hopefully for DC, sales). If not his own series just yet, imagine Sandman joining <I>Justice League Dark</I>, or even the main <I>Justice League</I>. The idea of him joining a superhero team might be jarring to most, but a good storyteller thrives on telling stories about the unthinkable -- especially when it's this enticing.

LEX LUTHOR

<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> recently launched, and Luthor has become a member of the Justice League thanks to events in <i>Forever Evil</i>. Lex Luthor, Super Man could be a great point from which to launch a title. <p>In an interview several months ago, Geoff Johns hinted at as much, 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: 20 August 2014 Time: 06:25 PM ET