Post-Dorkpocalyptic Press: My 15 Titles
Hypothetical situation: Due to diminished readership and rising paper costs, it has been decided only fifteen comic titles will be published from this day forward. You have been charged with the decisions of which titles shall be printed and what creative teams will be assigned to them.
The Great Comic Cataclysm so long predicted has come to pass: The Dorkpocalypse.
We’ve finally Killed Comics.
Out of the chaos, Marvel and DC have been purchased by a single investor.
Me, Harvey Jerkwater! HOO-HAH!
I'm the god! I'm the god! I've got the keys to the kingdom! BWAHA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!!!
Ahem. Please excuse me. Power always goes straight to my head.
Back to the challenge.
As other folks have done, I’m imposing the “no indies” rule here. It's far too depressing to consider them gone as well. No, it’s more fun to romp in the four-color fields of the Big Two.
Hey, my blog, my interpretation.
In this crazy land of my imagination, Dark Horse, Oni, Image, AiT/PlanetLar, and their bretheren all thrive. They laugh and cavort around the corpse of the Great Two-Headed Beast, and the biggest selling comics of the day are the smash hits Elk’s Run, Action Philosophers, and The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius.
...man, wouldn't that be beautiful?
Anyway, to work!
In what is a likely futile attempt to reach out to non-comic readers, I would do a couple of things.
Step one: Broaden distribution as best I can. Perhaps it’s impossible, or at least impractical enough to kill my company in a month, but hey, it’s my damn fantasy. A mammoth internet presence, issues for sale hither and yon, all those expensive ideas I like to pretend I could make work.
As part of this notion, my “final fifteen” are partially shaped by my idea of what might sell to those not already soaked in the nerdy brine of comics. If the Dorkpocalypse happens, it’ll be because fanboys are no longer enough to support the industry. Catering strictly to us would be foolish. I'm gunning for the outside world. It adds a challenge to the game.
Step two: Destroy all continuity. Y’hear me? It’s all gone! All gone! Everybody’s starting at #1 with a clean slate. This doesn’t mean every comic has to start with an “origin” story. The All-Star line's approach of “hit the ground running” is acceptable. Also, mucking with the old stories and changing longstanding situations is just fine.
Step three: Expand the length of the individual issues. I’m adding backup stories, because I like them and because it might help sales. (This may be cheating.) The team books won’t have backup stories, since they need more space. A comic would clock in at about forty pages; the lead story would get thirty, the backup ten.
Step four: Tear down the DC/Marvel wall. It’s all one company and all one world now. No sense keeping things separate anymore.
1. Action Comics
Lead feature: Superman
Last son of a dead planet, last hope for the human race: Superman, the greatest superhero of all.
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Frank Quitely
Yes, yes, a predictable choice. Hadda do it. All-Star Superman is a great freakin’ time, so I’m not messing with it.
Backup feature: Iron Man
To preserve his life, technological genius Tony Stark built a suit of high-tech armor. To make that life worth living, Stark pilots the armor in the cause of justice.
Written by: Karl Kesel
Art by: Leinil Francis Yu
Dammit, I loved Kesel’s writing, so he gets a job under my insane regime. Yu’s work on Superman: Birthright showed a flair for techno-doodlery. That’s the kind of cat I’d want on Iron Man.
2. Detective Comics
Lead feature: Batman and Robin
The roughest city in America is protected by a legendary pair of vigilantes. Crazed villains, deathtraps, gangsters, dark and grimy alleys, it's here.
Written by: Paul Dini
Art by: David Mazzuchelli
Dini’s past work with Batman was great. Mazzuchelli’s art is well-suited to the character. I probably couldn’t get him, but dammit, I’d try. Maybe the Dini-Mazzuchelli combo is a bad idea. But right now, I like it.
Backup feature: Daredevil
Everyone’s favorite blind lawyer vigilante, kicking ass and taking names in the Bronx. The series will be akin to Batman's, but with less detection and more boot-to-head.
Written by: Kelley Puckett
Art by: Jock
Puckett’s an underrated writer. I like him, consarn it. I think he’d bring a cool martial artsy vibe to Daredevil. Jock needs no explanation.
3. Captain America and the Falcon
New York City’s high-flying hero, the Falcon, makes a shocking discovery. While whooping villainous heinie, he finds a cylinder containing the first super-hero of all: Captain America, who’s been lost since 1945. The Falcon revives the Captain from suspended animation and they form a mighty duo.
The Falcon, the reincarnation of the Egyptian pharoah Khufu, feels a bond with the Captain, as both are warriors out of time. Best of friends, boldest and bravest of heroes, Cap and the Falcon are here to punch villainy in the nose!
Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Joe Bennett
Waid’s previous work on Cap was great stuff. And I dug Bennett's work on the recently cancelled Captain America and the Falcon series, so I'm giving him the gig back.
Backup Feature: Shazam!
Teenage Billy Batson needs speak only one word to become Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal. Mightier than Superman, younger than Spider-Man, the good Captain's trying his best.
Writing and art: Darwyn Cooke
The Big Red Cheese needs art and writing filled with charm and wonder. So I'd bring in Cooke. Light-hearted fun.
4. Wonder Woman
Diana, Princess of the Amazons, comes to the Man’s World to teach the Amazon way and bust skulls. Not necessarily in that order.
Written by: Steve Gerber/Mary Skrenes
Art by: Ryan Sook
What Gerber and Skrenes would do with Diana, I don’t know. But man, I’d love to find out. Sook’s work on Zatanna makes him a likely sort for the gig, I figure.
Backup Feature: Hawkwoman
Shayera Thal, a policewoman from the planet Thanagar, is in exile on Earth due to her resistance to the despotic rule of Onimar Byth. Using the wings and weapons of her position, she fights for justice on Earth and in space!
Written by: Andy Diggle
Art by: Pascual Ferry
Yes, I’m reuniting the team from Adam Strange: Planet Heist. Their collaboration was killer. More, please.
5. The Green Lantern Corps
Others participating in this meme have said that the idea of the GLC is a great one: space-spanning brotherhood of cops/knights with magic rings? Sweet. Chewing it over, I gotta say—the blogosphere is right. Consarn it, let’s make it work. GLC will focus on Earth’s GL, John Stewart, with lots of other GLs turning up and even starring once in a while.
Written by: Gail Simone
Art by: Steve Rude
Stories will range from earthbound mysteries to big outer space epics. I have faith that Simone could do a fine job with it. As far as Rude? He probably wouldn’t take the job, but if he did, oh my. Love that guy.
Backup: The Flash
Wally West is the second generation Flash. He’s not the serious hero his uncle Barry was. Throw in a hidden city of talking gorillas, time travel, a crazed Rogues’ Gallery, and Wally’s cracked love life, and it’s one heck of a ride.
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: M.D. Bright
The Flash works best when handled lightly; thus, Slott. Bright is an underrated artist and I want him back in Big Time Comics.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man
Rebooting yet again. Think of it as “Ultimate Spider-Man version 2.0.” Spider-Man's story starts from zero, with a young Peter Parker just getting his powers.
Written by: Roger Stern
Art by: Ron Frenz
Roger Stern was one of my favorite Spidey writers, and Frenz a favorite Spidey artist. (Yes, I grew up in the eighties, why do you ask?) I think they’d produce a killer book.
Backup: The Hulk
RAAAR! Within us all dwells a raging monster. In the case of Bruce Banner, sometimes it gets out and breaks stuff. Purple pants and property damage a’plenty!
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Norm Breyfogle
Oh why not. Breyfogle’s big sweeping style would mesh well with the Big Green Monstah. Can you imagine setting Morrison loose with the Hulk? Ye gods. He’s a tough character to write well. So let’s give him to the guy most likely to do something wacky and cool.
7. Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes
The heroes of the thirtieth century have found their inspiration: a time-displaced Supergirl. Space-spanning adventure, soap opera out the kazoo, love, hate, betrayal, things going “boom,” Supergirl and the Legion is crammed with all of it.
Written by: Allan Heinberg
Art by: Amanda Conner
I don’t read Heinberg’s stuff, but the blogosphere has spoken and pronounced him great. This book sounds like a good fit for him. And from what I’ve seen, Conner’s art would fit the stories well. So there ya go.
The standard X-squad: Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Storm, Beast. You know the drill. Angst! Alienation! Action! Tormented love! A bald guy!
Written by: John Ostrander
Art by: Jim Lee
Ostrander’s shown an excellent grasp of character, which any X-writer needs. He’s imaginative and willing to expand the envelope of superhero books. So hell yes, he’s hired for the X-Men. As for Jim Lee? Well, let’s give the kids what they want.
9. Justice League
Roster: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Captain America, Iron Man, The Falcon.
The world’s greatest super-team. All for one, one for all, and so forth.
Written by: Kurt Busiek
Art by: George Perez
Busiek would kill with this team and the free rein he’d have. This is the Big Action Comic of the line. Perez? The man's damn good with team books, so why not give him the Big Team Book?
10. The Defenders
Roster: Dr. Strange, She-Hulk, Big Barda, Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Spider-Man, Vibe.*
The Defenders are the polar opposite of the JL: a disorganized team of heroes who don’t take orders well and hold together because they need each other. They bringeth Two-Fisted Action and buckets of The Wacky.
Written by: J.M. DeMattis and Keith Giffen
Art by: Kevin Maguire
This light-hearted book will reunite the Bwah-ha-ha team of DeMattis, Giffen, and Maguire. Damn, I love their stuff.
11. Fantastic Four
The world's foremost explorers of the unknown, a family of scientists and adventurers, the idols of millions: The Fantastic Four.
Written by: Walt Simonson
Art by: Tom Grummett
Simonson's FF run was sheer freakin' gold. Since he's on tap for another book as well (see #12), Grummett will handle the art duties. I have a big warm spot for Grummett's art. Good solid stuff.
Pilot Travis Morgan’s plane crashes north of the Arctic Circle. Lost and freezing to death, he stumbles across a cave. Morgan steps into the cave for shelter and instead plunges down, down...and lands in another world. Travis Morgan is trapped in Skartaris, the world on the inside of the Earth’s surface, where dinosaurs live, magic thrives, and danger lurks at every turn.
Writing and art by: Walt Simonson
Oh hell yes. Sword-n-sorcery. Dinosaurs. Machine guns. Lost worlds. This is right in Simonson’s wheelhouse. Warlord used to be DC’s top-selling title. I betcha it’d stand a good chance of making a comeback. Why? Sword-n-sorcery. Dinosaurs. Machine guns. Lost worlds. Hoo-hah!
Backup feature: Wolverine
The X-Men’s big name in solo adventures. Ninjas, superspies, sex, violence, all the good stuff. Give the readers what they want!
Written by: Doug Moench
Art by: Bryan Hitch
Moench did fine work in a similar vein for Moon Knight and Master of Kung Fu. Let's give the old pro a shot. Hitch's art is frabjabulous, and I had to put him somewhere. The semi-realism of Wolverine's milieu should suit Hitch's style.
13. Jonah Hex
Wearing a gray hat and a half-scarred face, the bounty hunter Jonah Hex wanders the Old West, making as honest a living as he can in a corrupt world.
Writing and art by Howard Chaykin
Hex is about cynicism with a hint of dark humor. Pull a dump truck of cash up to Chaykin’s house and I’m sure he’d do this book justice.
Backup feature: Sgt. Rock
World War Two action from the grunt's perspective. Nothin's ever easy in Easy.
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon
(With stories by Joe Kubert whenever he damn well wants to draw one.)
Ennis loves his war comics. Dillon not only has a fine history of working with Ennis, he’s one of the best artists for regular people in the business. How could they not get Sgt. Rock?
An anthology series of more serious comics. Creator-owned work.
Written by: Steve Gerber/Mary Skrenes, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Darwyn Cooke, Mike Mignola, etc.
Art by: various
This would be the slot for Hard Time, but I bet that Gerber and Skrenes’s upcoming conclusion will be too good to mess with. Instead, the first arc in Vertigo is whatever those two feel like making. Later stories will be by whomever feels like producing one, with a nod towards the old Vertigo crew.
Working-class kid Virgil Hawkins is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mutagenic gas is released in his vicinity. But something unexpected happens: he gets electrical powers. To protect the city of Newark from the monsters spawned by the same gas that created him, he becomes the superhero Static.
Written by: Dwayne McDuffie
Art by: John Romita, Jr.
The original run of Static was real good. Then throw in the character’s recognition value courtesy of the cartoon, and you’ve got a comic that I would predict to be a top seller, given a decent marketing push. McDuffie co-created and wrote the early Statics, so I’d love to get him back. (I think he may even own the property, so all the more reason.) Romita’s art is always kickass. (Original Static artist John Paul Leon would be most welcome if Romita didn’t work out.)
Backup feature: Teen Titans
The sidekicks and underage heroes band together in the cause of awesomeness and coolosity.
Written by: Gail Simone
Art by: Mike Wieringo
Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, Kid Flash, Beast Boy
I heard good things about Simone’s run, I dug Villains United, and her many blogosphere postings show her to be a good egg. So dang it, Gail gets a second gig. Ringo’s art has a cartoony flavor that would sit well with the Titans, or so I believe.
Man, this is tough. A lot of big favorites of mine got left out. This lineup shuts out piles of great writers and artists, leaving them on the side of the road to curse my name. I kept trying to figure out where to put guys like Priest, Byrne, DeFalco, and Englehart. Sorry, guys. Given that my reorg would, of course, be a smashing success, all of those folks would be hired immediately for new titles.
*Yes, Vibe. Really. Vibe would fit right in with my version of the Defenders, meng! Scipio of the Absorbascon has convinced me of his value as a character. Besides, he’d fit right in with the team I’ve chosen.
Every super-team needs a breakdancer. And you know the interplay between Paco and Peter Parker would be schweet.