There’s been a lot of talk about DC’s reboot of their comic line (here on Comic Booked as much as anywhere else) – but the next most talked about issue has been whether or not it will be any good. This, of course, has been inspired by the seeming suddenness of the decision, an apparent attempt to rescue the company’s stake in an industry fearful of onrushing irrelevancy, as much as anything else. What if another Hollywood superhero film flop kills any interest in the intellectual property of DC and Marvel? What if digital comics sweep down on the traditional print model like a brush fire? Comic creator Von Allan opened his excellent discussion of the pricing of comics with this telling quote from publisher Dan DiDio:
“The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices… We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying.”
Everyone is fearful. The publisher is afraid that they are propping up a dying artform. The consumers feel alienated by an increasingly costly product that seems to have traded actual storytelling for endless crossovers that never properly conclude.
Unfortunately for publishers and consumers alike, online fandom often provides little insight beyond criticism that is equally endless. So I would like to offer a series of “pitches” in which I will attempt to sketch out what I would like to see. I do not claim that this is superior to the New 52, after all I have not yet read it. This is intended merely as a piece of speculative fan fiction that doubles as an illustration of my opinion. Specifically that the stories told through the medium should have a beginning, middle and end. Hence, the titles listed below are intended to seem less like brand-names. Aquaman could be written by any number of different writers, in any number of different styles – and indeed it has been. But The Exile From Atlantis refers to a singular story that must eventually conclude.
Let’s call them “Bullet Pitches”. Yes, there are only eleven listed here – but then I am not Geoff Johns!
The Exile from Atlantis: The illegitimate son of a dead king, Arthur has been hidden from his enemies on the surface world. With assassins scouring the earth for him and a scorched earth policy leading Atlantean agents to eradicate entire communities following mere reports of his presence, the world-weary exile has tried to stay underground. When he encounters a nest of underwater vampires in Rosewood, the signs of his passing are unmistakable and the hunt begins anew – but Arthur is tired of running and decides to take the fight to his pursuers.
New Olympus: The gods are long gone, the only record of their passing is a single word: “Darkseid”. But their weapons and talents remain hidden on Earth, with some descendents of the Olympians themselves still alive. Diana, Princess of Themyscira has long been the public face of the utopian colony, embargoed by most nations, but still known to welcome the sick and the oppressed who make the difficult journey to the island. Her companions are the weird Oracle known as Fate, whose identity changes with the bearer of the Helm of Nabu; Shazam, the sharp-suited warrior mage blessed with the names of the powerful spirits of Limbo; Mercury, the sexless speed force that is everywhere at once. These “Olympians” are more business executives than gods, courting the secret rulers of this troubled earth as adeptly as they do the recognized governments. However, a new age of magic has begun with the discovery of a young boy in Louisiana named Wardell Haynes, who Fate reveals to be the Hunter. His existence means the returns of angels and demons, gods and titans, much changed since their absence. Diana is forced to lead her people to a world that has besieged their island home for centuries.
Zatanna – Mirror Image: As a young child, Zatanna begAn to experiment with mirror magic. It was the simplest of tricks that her father had taught her, to speak backwards and achieve what she wanted. Unknowingly, this made her a target for forces on the other side of the looking glass, one of which crossed over and took her shape, and name to become the world famous Zatanna, magician to the celebrities. The original Zee fled, distraught and living on the streets, with another woman wearing her face, chasing her through her reflection. Instead the mirror magic, which attracts the mirror demons like a homing beacon, Zee resorts to street tricks to make her way, eventually discovering another source of power…
Prisoner of an Impossible War: Professor Ryan Choi stumbled upon the greatest threat the earth will ever face. An alien culture, existing on a microscopic scale on Earth and preparing for a campaign that will see them conquer the entire solar system. Before he could warn anyone, he was captured by the aliens and imprisoned in the cyclopean ziggurats of Kandor, the Bottle City. Even when he manages to break free, Choi finds himself trapped with seemingly no possibility of escape from the miniature metropolis. Meanwhile, he can only watch as the Kryptonians prepare for a war that will devastate humanity as a matter of course.
The Bat Men: When Thomas Wayne came of age, he recognised in Gotham the signs of decadence and corruption that precede all great historical falls. As a student, he had been obsessed with secret conspiracies to shape the destiny of mankind and so, inspired by the writings of Borges, invented a quasi-masonic society called the Temple of the Bat. It was meant to train his contemporaries as leaders to restore the city of Gotham to its rightful rulers – the descendents of the steel barons and industrialists that had founded it. His scheme worked, and his son Bruce inherited a city that thrived on industry, beating to the hidden heart of the cult his father had created. Now, it falls to him to train the next leaders of the Temple, but he has bigger plans in mind – expansion.
Superman and the Invisible Nation: Raised in the false town of Smallville by Kryptonian agents, Kal-El has been groomed to marshal the combined forces of the twelve hidden cities of Krypton with the intent of conquering Earth and striking back against the oppressive forces of the Lanterns. Smallville is the first time the Kryptonians have chosen to reveal themselves, and the “Kent’s” only son will be sent out into the world – to assess any possible threats to their plans for revenge.
The Undying Light: The Lanterns are the elite guard of Oa, implacable warriors who are each individually capable of destroying an entire planet. A Lantern’s arrival is a catastrophic event that immediately turns the tide of battle, sapping the will of the defending army and creating impossible weapons with its technology. The unstoppable empire of Oa will eventually turn its attention to Earth, but first comes the Reckoning, the choosing of the warrior who can earn the honour of the unstoppable empire and serve as the vanguard of their next conquest. Competing for the task is the species-traitor Hal Jordan.
Lois Lane and the Secret History: General Lane was a respected military man until he began ranting to his superiors about conspiracies, shadowy organizations controlling the mechanisms of government, and superhumans living underground. Following a dishonourable discharge, he was left a broken man, and eventually took his own life. His daughter Lois has discovered that her father was not as mad as she was led to believe. There really is a whole other world hidden beneath the surface – and she is determined to prove it.
Okay readers, what do you think? And more importantly, what would you do if you were charged with rebooting the DC Universe?
And I’m not a graphic designer, so please be nice!