This past summer, when DC announced a new Justice League of America title, fans weren’t really surprised by stalwart inclusions like Green Arrow, Hawkman and Martian Manhunter. They were a bit thrown by the surprise inclusions of Star Girl and Catwoman, but both are fan favorites who have headlined their own comics and are well-liked among readers. But everyone was scratching their heads over two members, Katana, of late a member of the Birds of Prey and long-dead Vibe, from the poorly-regarded “Justice League Detroit,” an ill-conceived attempt to recast the Justice League as a younger, grittier, street-level team, closer in tone to the Teen Titans and the X-Men.
So just imagine the same readers’ reaction when DC announced that not only were these two characters joining the illustrious Justice League… they were getting their own ongoing series! Not miniseries! Regular, monthly books! More than a few spit takes resulted, I’m sure.
For those unaware, Katana was created in 1983 for Batman & the Outsiders, a new team book that followed the adventures of the Dark Knight after he quit the Justice League of America and formed his own team. She became the mother figure for teen teammate Halo and remained a steady member of the team, staying with them even after Batman quit, until the last issue. DC has revisited The Outsiders a few times and Katana is usually in the mix. She has also worked with the Suicide Squad and, as I said, up until now, has been an operative of the Birds of Prey.
As for Vibe… oh Vibe. Many fans scorn him for being crafted as a tie-in to an 80s fad, break dancing. (Nevermind, that break dancing is still popular… So You Think You Can Dance? America’s Best Dance Crew? The Step Up movies? Anyone?) That aspect might be debatable, but what isn’t, is the fact that Vibe, a Latino street gang member, was a misguided stereotype who spoke in a stilted accent (“Chu guys are the Chustice League?”) and was part of a street gang, unoriginally dubbed Los Lobos (not to be confused with the band) and once got the League involved in a gang war. The entire “Justice League Detroit” endeavor proved to be a disaster and after a short run, the concept was scrapped and poor Vibe was killed. And dead he stayed. No one was clamoring for his return. His brother Reverb popped up briefly in the 90s, but didn’t amount to much.
And then Justice League Unlimited happened. When Warner Brothers decided to include every character whose rights they could acquire in their hit animated series, they threw Vibe onto the small screen, usually depicting him alongside his fellow JLD members Steel, Vixen and Gypsy. Then a parallel universe version of Vibe, named Break Dance, appeared in the direct-to-DVD movie Justice League: Earth 2. And most recently, he STARRED in a two-part short on DC Nation on the Cartoon Network. He’s having a moment!
But surely, both of these underdogs are facing an up hill battle, trying to maintain an ongoing series, with arguably the least visibility of any DC headliner so far. If Blue Beetle, Mister Terrific, Captain Atom and other characters that have a much bigger presence can’t maintain monthlies, do these characters stand a chance?
More importantly, is DC crazy trying to land success with these two, versus other characters that actually have a following and a track record as being commercially successful? Who do you think should have their own series? Here are my picks.
10. Elongated Man
The Thin Man: Super Hero Edition! Though not a huge name, Ralph Dibny, not to mention his loving wife Sue are beloved, long-running facets of the DC Universe and their recent deaths are a sore spot for old school fans. If DC wants to dissolve Superman’s marriage, why not placate fans and restore one of the best loving partnerships in comics. It would be refreshing to see a marriage that is a real give-and-take, supportive partnership… but who still like to have fun!
Pandora, the mysterious hooded woman that appeared in the first issue of every New 52 book (except Earth 2) is just now starting to be revealed. She is the Pandora from myth, opening her magical box to release evil upon the world. Along with The Question and The Phantom Stranger, she makes up the Trinity of Sin and all three were sentenced to terrible fates by the Circle of Eternity, led by the wizard Shazam. Pandora was doomed to an eternal life of isolation and loneliness. Barry Allen helped her reshape the universe, combining the DC, Wildstorm and Vertigo universes into one, in order to ward off an impending invasion. She’s obviously someone very important… but why? How? She’s still such an enigma. Her fellow Trinity of Sin member, The Phantom Stranger has his own book now, but what about the ubiquitous Pandora?
8. Element Woman
Element Woman was introduced in Flashpoint and very shortly after the New 52 was announced, it was revealed that she was going to join the Justice League. But who is she? In Flashpoint, she was depicted as unbalanced, offering drink boxes to her allies in battle. Does she have any connection to Metamorpho? Does Metamorpho exist? When she joins the Justice League, wouldn’t it be nice to know about her beforehand?
8. Plastic Man
Another “light” concept, people LOVE Plastic Man! His shorts on the Cartoon Network are hilarious. He’s basically evolved into the Bugs Bunny of the DC Universe and has served as a member of the Justice League, where he aggravated, like… everybody. Eel O’Brien could easily headline his own book, provided it walked the line between comedy and action. But seriously, get a new costume.
6. Dr. Light
Her exclusion from the DCU still has me baffled. She has amazing powers– flight and energy manipulation. (She once absorbed the power of a sun!) She’s a single mother, so that by itself adds an interesting living situation and back story. And… she’s kind of a bitch. That’s unusual, but it can work. Just ask Guy Gardner. At the very least put her on a team! If she’d been on Justice League International, maybe half of them wouldn’t be dead now.
5. Adam Strange
DC has made a genuine effort to be diverse not only in regard to race and gender, but genre as well, with westerns and war comics, as well as some super hero titles that defy convention. But outside of the Green Lantern books, there’s not a lot of classic sci fi present. Let DC’s biggest science fiction hero headline a new title, perhaps along the lines of Sword of Sorcery, with a separate backup feature, like Captain Comet, The Omega Men or L.E.G.I.O.N./R.E.B.E.L.S.
Neither DC nor Marvel has ever had a black woman headline her own monthly on-going comic. Ever. The recently cancelled Voodoo starred a woman of mixed race. Storm, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) and Vixen herself have had miniseries and specials. And of course women of color have played pivotal roles on teams. But isn’t it decades past time that a female African American super hero had her own comic?! Marie McCabe has the power to replicate the abilities of animals; the strength of an elephant, the swimming ability of a dolphin, even the flight of a falcon! She’s served time with the Justice League, Birds of Prey and the Suicide Squad and was part of the recent Justice League International. That last one didn’t go so well, so here’s hoping a solo series fares better!
3. The Atom
One of the biggest names that is still M.I.A. in the New 52 is The Atom. The original Atom, Ray Palmer, was a headliner in the Silver Age and was popular enough to land a spot on the all-star Justice League. Recently, DC attempted to reinvent the character, passing the mantle on to Asian American Ryan Choi. DC seemed fully behind the character, utilizing him on Batman: The Brave and the Bold and putting him on scores of merchandise. But then, shockingly killed him off. Prior to the New 52’s launch, Geoff Johns confirmed that Ryan Choi would join the Justice League. This was over a year ago. The Atom is an institution. Can we get ONE of them back?
Fans were thrown for a loop when the new Justice League line up did not include the Martian Manhunter, but instead featured famed Teen Titan Cyborg. True, the character had just recently served on a version of the Justice League… alongside fellow former Titans Dick Grayson (as Batman), Donna Troy and Jesse Quick. So really, it was just a glorified Teen Titans. While Cyborg has proven useful, he has yet to prove interesting and certainly hasn’t justified his place on DC’s A+ List. Out of the core seven characters, he is the only one that doesn’t have his own series or even a strip to help develop him. If DC is serious about making Cyborg a star, they need to give readers a reason to care about him. And he’s part of the main Justice League. Katana and Vibe are part of a spin-off!
1. Wonder Woman
Oh I know. She does have a book. But Superman and Green Lantern both have four titles in their “families.” Batman has five all to himself and eight related titles. Thirteen Batman titles! Why can’t one female hero have more than one? And if anyone should get a second, it’s the most famous female hero in comics. Her current book, written by Brian Azzarello, has been entertaining but controversial. The book seems to exist in its own reality. There have been no references to the greater DCU. In her own book, she doesn’t seem quite the same as she does in Justice League. There are a lot of sides to the Amazing Amazon, more than one book can contain. How about a more straightforward super hero book, showcasing her rogues gallery, Cheetah, Giganta, Dr. Psycho and so forth? Less supernatural soap opera, more lasso slinging action in the real world. Bring on Sensation Comics starring Wonder Woman!
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Who would you like to receive their own ongoing series? Comment below!