DC vs. Marvel: The Pre-Game Show.

“I have said—repeatedly, to anyone who will listen—that given the similarities found in both lines, Marvel and DC should release separate but simultaneous ‘Crisis’ events that dovetail into a Marvel vs. DC crossover, the climax of which would launch a short-term Amalgam universe, which would then fold as the DC and Marvel universes are rebooted—just in time to coincide with Avengers and JLA blockbusters in movie theaters. If one’s golden goose is dying, it’s best to feed it with as much grain as possible so those last eggs are glorious.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I still firmly believe that DC and Marvel should join forces for a month-long Amalgam event. Both companies should put out a line of one-shots featuring Amalgam characters as well as two four-issue event series to be shipped weekly during the month of April 2016—bridging the gap between Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War in movie theaters. (It’d also be wise to release two movie tie-in one-shots and two related trades to occupy newcomers for a month while die-hards enjoyed the Amalgam event.)

However, April 2016 is over a year from now and both Marvel and DC appear to be in the midst of renovating at this very moment. Instead of quickly launching from one event to the next, or dragging out Secret Wars and Convergence well past their sell-by dates, perhaps it would be best for DC and Marvel to reorder their houses after Secret Wars and Convergence have wrapped. Then, after firmly establishing the new DC and Marvel universes, a new threat—one that would launch our favorite heroes into Marvel vs. DC—could be introduced.

Post-Convergence Conversations: A quick look at DC’s upcoming titles has me pretty pleased. I’ve often argued that DC was devoid of diversity—race, gender, sexuality, and genre—genre being the most notable issue. While I’ve always believed genre diversity could be best introduced by giving each “house” (Super, Bat, Wonder-Marvel, Aqua, Green, Flash, Power, Teen) its own point of view and style, DC has mixed things up even further by trying for different styles within a particular house. I think it’s a tactic that will work.

Genre diversity aside, I’m elated at the inclusion of minority creators who will be bringing in points of view we haven’t seen in the mainstream for quite a while. More please! And on a personal note I’m glad to see that some of my favorite creators are still in the mix or have snuck in the back door—Connor, Simone, Walker, Corson, Randolph, Cloonan.

Still, all is not completely well. There are still a couple of opportunities that DC has yet to take advantage of and Vertigo is far from healthy—a point I have stressed for a very long while.

First and foremost, I’d bring characters such as John Constantine and Swamp Thing back to Vertigo along with darker Wildstorm characters such as Deathblow and Black Betty. Package them as their own universe—an imprint within an imprint—Vertigo: Heights. The imprint would lean heavy on action and horror, leaving the sci-fi and standard superheroes for the main DC universe. The imprint would also woo “big name” creators such as Ennis and Snyder as well as give creators on the cusp of gaining notoriety a chance to finally solidify their reputation. Vertigo cannot win back its old glory from Image with creator-owned work. That ship has sailed. Even if Vertigo changed its deal to match Image’s, the winds of change have already shifted. What Vertigo can do is champion the beloved characters in its stable while providing creators with something they cannot get elsewhere—financial stability and the attention that comes with working with established IPs. It would be best if Vertigo: Heights stressed characters that could easily be launched as a cable TV projects down the line. The line should be kept rather small too. No more than six titles at a time. I think a strong line-up would be as follows:

  • Constantine: The Hellblazer
  • Section Eight (seeding possibilities of a Hitman cable series)
  • Deathblow (in the vein of Punisher: Max)
  • Lilith (a companion series to Lucifer)

Two slots would remain for miniseries taking place with the Heights universe, such as Swamp Thing, Desire, or Papa Midnight. DC crippled Vertigo in the post-Berger era by pulling characters from Vertigo. And it damaged those characters by altering them to fit within the DC universe. Why? These are not network-friendly characters. They are and will always be HBO, not NBC. Sell them that way.

As for the DC Universe, it seems as though DC is about to correct course and right the ship. But there are still a few ways in which DC could be more competitive with Marvel. Building Power Girl into a brand that complements Harley Quinn and competes with Captain Marvel should be a major objective. And she should be a brand in her own right—not one that cribs from the origin of DC’s most popular Kryptonian. I would roll Harley Quinn/Power Girl directly into a Power Girls ongoing series featuring Karen and Tanya—pairing Amanda Conner with Dani Dixon while keeping Stephane Roux along for the ride. A sales win all around—a beloved creator and character (Captain Marvel), a nod to authenticity and diversity (Ms. Marvel), cross-generational conflict (Icon), and female friendships (Birds of Prey).

Building Vixen should be DC’s next objective. DC has already made inroads with the animated Vixen shorts that will debut soon. But that simply establishes a place for Vixen in the DC television universe. What about comics?

Looking at sales of Storm and Black Widow, I do not believe a Vixen series would sell well should one be launched in the near future. However, I do think placing Vixen in the leadership position of a Justice League International team that borrowed heavily in style from Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch run would do wonders. In fact, perhaps JLI should be repackaged as a revamped Stormwatch. A team featuring Vixen, Fire, Jack Hawksmoor, The Ray, Solstice, and others—given orders by a hardnosed, UN-funded Jackson King—would stand as a tightly controlled bureaucratic counterpart to the Justice League. Special attention should be given to Vixen, but also The Ray (given the dismal number of Asian superheroes to be found in the mainstream). I’d probably go and switch his residence from America to the Philippines too to keep the team from being too American heavy and provide Pacific Islanders with representation. Using the team book as a way to build background stories and establish supporting characters and situations for future television and film projects is crucial.

Anything else? Yes! DC’s “teen scene” needs a major restructuring to lure back fans. The creators on deck are excellent, but another way to show that an overhaul has occurred is through renumbering, costume redesigns, and a change in team lineup. There should be a clearer division between young adults (Grayson, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, Batgirl, Arsenal) and teens. Also, more interaction between the young adults is key given that there is a Titans show on deck and Cyborg will be appearing in movies soon. And even though the characters are appearing in solo books, building them together as a brand is still helpful. Branding the young adults as Outsiders and the teens as Titans would help in reorganizing. Finally, I think repackaging Shazam as Captain Wonder or Captain Thunder and pulling the character slightly under Wonder Woman’s wing isn’t a bad idea. And having a couple of miniseries ready for readers before a movie is released might be a good idea too.

Next up? Marvel musings.


Wonderful. Terrific. Fine.

With the introduction of Helena Wayne and Karen Starr as Huntress and Power Girl, DC Entertainment has given fans what they have clamored for in a way that some readers are still a bit unsure about. However, the world’s finest are here, with a gender and sex change to keep things fresh and new.

Of course, I was always a bit irked by the original incarnation. An assembly of the “world’s finest” without the inclusion of Wonder Woman feels incomplete and exclusionary. Wonder Woman has always been both there but not there, her gender often keeping her separate and regarded as an afterthought by many male readers. And that’s sad. It’s not a dynamic duo—that would be Batman and Robin—it’s a trinity. And I always get a little ping of delight when the comics reflect that.

I think what is most interesting about the arrival of Huntress and Power Girl is the possibility that not only does it provide a warped reflection of the world’s finest that most fans are used to, it also provides a warped reflection of DC’s most well-known and lopsided triangle due to Karen’s connection with Mr. Terrific.

Like Diana, Mr. Terrific is both there and not there. His connection to Earth Two is merely tangential—as is Diana’s connection to the world that Clark and Bruce were raised in. An attempt has been made to place him in a romantic relationship with Karen—as Diana has often been foisted on Bruce or Clark. And hilariously, that romance has been largely ignored as fans rush to embrace the romantic subtext between Helena and Karen—subtext that is also evident between Bruce and Clark and has long been cherished by fans.

And of course, there is the elephant in the room. As Diana’s gender makes her seem of lesser importance due to the casual sexism of some readers, Mr. Terrific’s race will likely result in the same due to the casual racism found amongst comics fans. I will be amused to see if the excuses match up.


So what do I want?

Last comics post, y’all. DC and Marvel do not pay my rent and I really don’t care about the health of either company when neither is making all that much (or any) effort to entertain me or others like me. Now, that could be due to clueless marketing reps rather than complete indifference. (And if so, what are they collecting checks for?) Just in case? Here goes.

I want a Power Man webcomic called “Black and Yellow” running over at Nah Right for a few weeks. I want Luke Cage to have a bomb-ass logo to put on t-shirts and jackets. Same goes for Anya. I want Power Girl (drawn and written by Amanda Conner) to give Esquire‘s Funny Joke from a Beautiful Woman for one month. I want Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. I want a Daughters of the Dragon ongoing starring Misty, Colleen, Felicia, and Angela. I want the female Young Avengers tackling an advice column in Seventeen magazine. I want a quirky photoshoot starring Power Girl in Glamour magazine. I want Norah Winters gone. I want a giant one-shot of stories about Marvel characters set to classic rap songs. I want an adorable animated Cho giving tech reviews one day on AOTS. I want a new Young Justice comic starring Static, Blue Beetle, and Batgirl. I want Marvel-inspired exclusives from Nike. I want John to get the same face time as Guy and Kyle. I want minority characters as more than window dressing. I want a Wonder Woman television show. I want at least two of the Stepford Supers to change their hair color and style. I want consistent promotion given to minority characters over a prolonged period of time. Stop recycling your heroes of color and yanking them from the spotlight after a short time so no one hero (Cyborg, Static, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Solstice, Aqualad) ever gets a foothold. I want diversity and good comics. And cartoons. And video games. And gear.

Make it happen—now. Or don’t. I don’t have time to waste waiting. Other companies (comics, animation, video games, etc.) are already circling.