Dec 16, 2008

Top Five Properties I'd Love To Write Comics For

Let's imagine for a second, that I lived the dream and got paid to be a comic book writer. While it'd be a hoot to write the icons, like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, as a new writer, I wouldn't be given those books, and also, I wouldn't have a lot of freedom on them. So here are the ones I'd absolutely love to do:

5. Sleepwalker

A friend and I came up with an idea for this very underused mid-90s Marvel superhero a few years ago. Taking advantage of the fact that Sleepwalker's realm is in the mind, we came up with a lot of visual treats that'd look great in a comic book. And, best of all, for me, our idea powered up and used this guy as the main villain:

I love Electro and I think he's severely underrated. I'd love to power him up and make him a real threat.

4. Gargoyles

Gargoyles, for my money, is a damn near perfect cartoon. It's got great protagonists, great villains, great designs, even if some of them scream "Make me into an action figure", and great conflict. It's so planned out that it could branch out into science fiction or fantasy in either extreme and it works perfectly. I think the cartoon ended with a lot of possibility left in the way of story, and I'd love to see it in comics form, not in the way it's currently being published (as a poor printed version of the cartoon), but with a somewhat more serious tone in the art.

3. Batman Beyond

Pretty much the same as above. I think the animated series was a fully formed world that drew from Batman's history but didn't rely on it. I think Terry McGinnis is a great character with a great supporting cast and villains. In fact, the rogues' gallery in Batman Beyond did something I never thought possible - create a whole slew of villains in the modern day, but make them all look cool and timeless. In a story set in the future, it would have been easy for those designs to date themselves, but they don't. At all.

I'd love to have a crack at it. Why DC refuses to put out a Batman Beyond comic, with more traditional art and more substantial story arcs is beyond me. I think it could be the critical equivalent of Marvel's Spider-Girl, and would sell more.

2. The Scarlet Spider

Spider-Man's clone from the much lampooned Clone Saga actually has his own cult following of supporters, and I'm one of them. He's Spider-Man without the baggage, or rather, a different set of it. He's trying to find his place in the world, so Ben Reilly traveling around the world looking to fit in, knowing he never will, I think, is a great concept. It also provides writers a reason to do a complete overhaul when they take over the book, as writers are wont to do with 2nd-stringers in this day and age. When writer A leaves, writer B can easily have Ben move to another setting, introduce a new supporting cast, et cetera.

Also, his constantly being on the move would explain why he's sticking with the sweatshirt look - he just doesn't feel like making the superhero thing full time, so he doesn't feel like making a complete costume.

The problem would be how to bring back Ben from the dead, but of course, it can be done.

This Scarlet Spider is by Steven Butler, whom I would pick as the artist.

1. Nightwing

Nightwing, by concept and by characterization, is one of my all-time favorite heroes. I even like him more than Batman. But when I think about it, I can't think of a single Nightwing story I absolutely love, just small Nightwing moments here and there that make him cool.

It seems to me that he's one great writer away from being a really critical breakout. I think he could be the critical DC equivalent of Daredevil - he's got enough baggage to make him prestigious and iconic, but yet not enough "iconicity" in the name and costume that you can't screw around with him. And it seems that every time a writer shifts, his supporting cast changes.

Dick Grayson has more history and legacy in comics than just about anyone this side of Batman, and he deserves to be treated better. Unfortunately, writers tend to treat him just as a junior Batman or an adult Robin, and with both a Batman and Robin running around, this simply will not do. Perhaps the problem is that Dick is too well-balanced - he's so put together, so untraumatized by things. Guilt isn't what drives Dick to do what he does, and it shouldn't be made so. Dick should be the bright light in the Bat universe, the one who smiles and cracks jokes, but then that just risks turning him into Spider-Man.

This is the inherent problem with working with Dick Grayson: he is the perfect balance of so many superhero ideas that he never fully exemplifies one. In addition, he works so much better in a crowd than individually. I would argue that Dick is the heart of the DC Universe, the one that everyone on some level trusts implicitly. He's already been established as the best leader they have, exceeding Superman and Batman themselves.

The balance is hard to work out, but someone like Dan Jurgens did it perfectly for a while:

If I were writing Nightwing, I'd introduce a pretty solid supporting cast, and have a guest star pop up every few issues because Nightwing's strength - what sets him apart from the entire Bat family (and Spider-Man) - is in his ability to work with others. The Flash is his best friend. Superman trusts him completely, and sees him as something of a nephew (I'd say). There is no reason that these heroes can't hang out.

I would also give Dick a hobby, much like Jack Knight's hobby was collecting antiques. It'd give him a human touch, something we could relate to.

But most of all, I'd just have him be Dick Grayson - the coolest guy in the DC Universe.