I’ve always been a DC guy, so back when the new Nu52 DC Universe was starting up, I was kind of disappointed with what I saw. (I wasn’t alone, I hear.) I kinda did up a few mock cover ideas of series that if I had my way, I’d do them. Because at the time, I had JUST gotten off my comic I had done for several years, I wasn’t really to start a new one yet. Otherwise I would have done one these as a fan comic. And from seeing how DC comics has turned out over the last few years… I kinda wish I had. But I’m working on a new comic now, so I can’t. But each one of these I thought would have been a fun comic to do.
The first one was Batgirls: Hope Prevails, which the “pitch” for it was basically this:
"BATGIRLS: HOPE PREVAILS - One year after Barbara Gordon has regained her ability to walk again, But the actions of a rejuvenated Mister Freeze has forced her to take back up the cape and cowl again. Fortunately, for her, she’s this time forming a small cadre of crimefighters consisting of the novices Misfit and Flamebird, the deadly Blackbat and the team leader Spoiler… The Batgirls!"
As strange as it sounds, I have a fondness for this one, because this ended up being plastered on several forums across the internet. I mean, prior to this moment, I had been working on a horror comic that got a little too dark sometimes. And I wanted to get away from that and this picture was kind of an opening to a more fun and happier direction for me with my art. It sounds silly, but at that time… It was a big deal for me.
And as well received as the Batgirls concept was, the next one still surprised me. To date, it’s probably one of the most popular things I’ve ever drawn. Taking from my disappointment with the beginning premise of Red Hood and the Outlaws, I switched some stuff around and came up with the Teen Titans cartoon’s Red X and the Outlaws.
RED X AND THE OUTLAWS: REDEMPTION ROAD - The mysterious Red X has discovered that Arsenal’s daughter is still alive. While Roy and Starfire believes him, unfortunately, everyone else believes former villain is lying to take advantage of the grief stricken archer. Together with Red X, the trio will journey the dark and mystic Redemption Road to reunite father and daughter together again.
It was pretty well received at the time. (And still now, I suppose.) Because his identity on the show was never revealed, and despite what the popular fanon claims, Red X is NOT Jason Todd. (The recent DC Shorts even made fun of that idea.) My idea was to not reveal the identity until the end and it would have been Jean Paul Valley, the assumed-dead former Batman and former Azrael. It made sense to me, since when he “died”, no body was found and his death went unremarked for almost over a decade. (Until Darkest Night, which made things kinda vague anyway.) He had that hypnotic system that allowed him to mimic voices and fighting styles, and he was similar to Dick’s build. So to me, he was Red X, and he was looking for Redemption as well.
With each one of these things, I kinda had a plot in my head what they would have been. Personally, I always thought it was a good idea because you never know if you’ll get an opportunity to use that story idea for something. Like the next one with Power Girl.
With Power Girl: Last Daughter of Atlantis, there was no faux pitch I gave with it, because like I said… You come up with a good story and you might want to do it yourself. I had an idea and I was REALLY EXCITED about it. Like a lot.
And then I just started working some newer ideas into it, with the notion of how the world would react if an actual superhero DID show up. See, I had this idea about why superheroes need the bright and colorful costumes has more to do with a public perception of a superhero than an actual person with powers.
Imagine if you saw a super powered fight between two people. One of them is a huge dark and brooding person wearing a full body suit, looking like an armored S&M dom and the other is a normal looking dude or dudette wearing a brightly colored spandex suit. Because of our public perception of people with powers, we’ll immediately start cheering for the person dressed like a superhero, because that’s what is in our head. It’s less intimating and thus puts the public at ease. Try to imagine if in Man of Steel, Clark wore the traditional bright Superman costume, smiled and went out of his way to save as many people as he could, despite the large body count. (Basically if he was Christopher Reeves in that movie.) It would have been a totally different experience for not just the audience, but the characters in the movie. That was going to be a theme of the comic with public perception of what a hero would be… And in this case, the hero was going to be a young teenaged girl, with explosive kinetic powers. (Like X-Men’s Cannonball.)
Buuuut then MoS came out, and even though that was the theme… There was still TOO many similarities between the two stories. (Even more so now that I’ve seen the movie. Seriously the Zod story is almost exactly what Firecracker’s villain would have been.) There’s no way I could have done the comic and not had a bunch of Superman comparisons made. So it got back burnered until I can rework it.
The next one, Blue Devil, was done for my friend Happy Sorceress, because I mentioned i had a fondness for Blue Devil. And I kinda like the idea.
BLUE DEVIL: The demon with a soul, Danny Cassidy, aka the Blue Devil, heads down to New Orleans looking for a new life. But when stories of a “man in rags, devouring the souls of his innocent victims” surface, all signs point toward his former Shadowpact teammate, Rory Regan the Ragman, having lost control. Matters get more complicated when the members of the Justice League Dark arrive to take Ragman down for good. It seems Dan Cassidy’s old life isn’t ready to release him just yet…
I thought it gave a bit of a Dresden Files feel to it, and also it was fun putting Dan into a suit. :P
And the last one was a fun one I did, because I love the Golden Age Sandman. There was no series faux pitch for that one. It was just for fun. If there’s anything I thought DC lost when they rebooted the universe was losing their Golden Age heroes. It just felt like they lost their history in favor of “the new”, which I never think is a good thing. I mean, sure, they got their own Earth 2 out of it, but… Honestly it never felt right. I mean, I don’t mean to dismiss the work of many professional creators, many of them far more talented than I am. And there was some really great stuff that DID some out of the Nu52. That first Court of Owls story was really awesome, as was the first story arc for Aquaman. Captain Atom’s series was pretty cool, I thought. (Though I think it was obvious it was never meant to be long for the world.) The Frankenstein and the Agents of S.H.A.D.E. was pretty nifty, and I loved the “My Greatest Adventures” six parter they had. But I feel all those cool ideas could have been done WITHOUT rebooting the entire universe.
I know this is probably how the folks in 1986 felt when Crisis on Infinite Earths happened… But that really doesn’t make me feel better. Ah well, what’s done is done, I suppose. I wasn’t real happy with Marvel for quite a few years there, but they eventually regained their footing and got back to telling fun superhero stories again. And I think in time, DC will too.
I did a couple more covers as well, but they were for National Misfit Appreciation Day, so I’m going to hold them off until we get closer to the 7th. :)