Last time, I talked about what a Golden Age DC 52 would look like. This time, I want to talk about what would keep such a comic book line successful.
The goal would be to make every character as capable of permanently sustaining a comic book title as Batman or Superman, while also revamping them as little as possible. First, some notes on the heroes who already had their own books.
All-Flash. Keep his iconic costume the same, but maybe adding yellow lightning bolt-themed gauntlets. The adventures would lose the comedy elements that dragged down the Flash in later years and refocus on Flash being a super-detective, like in the early days, while highlighting his strong rogues gallery from the later years. Allow for frequent guest-stars from the JSA, along with their rogues. Keep his girlfriend Joan involved in his stories as a strong partner character and get them engaged. The Flash’s speed would cap off at about 700 MPH, with him not breaking the sound barrier by becoming vibrationally out-of-phase when he hits that speed.
All-Star Comics. The Justice Society of America needed only consistently stronger stories, and keep them focused on improving the world, socializing amongst each other, overseeing the superhuman community, and occasionally stopping supervillains. I would restore its membership to Sandman, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Flash, Green Lantern, and Johnny Thunder. Maybe allow the Atom to rejoin later and break the 8-member rule. Make it clear that Wonder Woman is a full member and not the secretary.
Batman. Keep him as he was in the 1940s, except make him a more formidable combatant again so he doesn’t get knocked out and captured so often. Acknowledge that Robin is 11, not 8, and let him age 1 year per 2 years of real time passing, graduating to long pants when he hits 14.
Boy Commandos. These kids were really popular during the War, so their continued popularity would seem to hinge on keeping them fighting one. After Europe is settled, they can be shipped off to China to fight the Japanese and then the Communists, giving it a Terry and the Pirates slant, or maybe even off to Russia to fight an early covert war against them. Instead of replacing commandos, I’d expand their numbers slowly, and allow them to slowly age into their teen years. I’d also like to give them a female cook as a supporting cast member, and someone for them to be constantly trying to hook her up with their father figure, Capt. Rip Carter.
Green Lantern. Swap the high collar for a cowl and have the long cape attach to the front of a military-style jacket instead of attached to a cord in front of his throat, over a loose blouse-like shirt. Give him green gloves. Play up the magic angle of his powers more and give him more magic foes. Sideline “Doiby” Dickles more and play up the romantic triangle of Green Lantern, Harlequin, and his long-time fiancé Irene. Like with the Flash, allow for guest appearances by the rest of the JSA and their rogues galleries.
Leading Comics. The Soldiers of Victory need more to distinguish them from the JSA. I would make them federal agents, answerable to the President (more like the All-Star Squadron), while the JSA is a gentleman’s club that sets itself above politics.
Mutt & Jeff. This title would differentiate from the rest, having only 2 8-page stories of new material, while the rest would be comic strip reprints from the 1940s.
Picture Stories from the Bible. Granted, there are only so many stories from the Bible to draw. Some “fleshing out” might be required with stories related by giving some historical context, or even non-canonical texts from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Superman. I would scale back the power inflation on Superman, having him lift/press about 44 tons at the start of 1943 and have it increase gradually over time, capping his lift capacity at around twice that. He’d still be bulletproof, but not invulnerable. He could fly, but with limited maneuverability, and would run faster than he could fly (about 250 MPH and 125 MPH respectively). Lois needs to figure out his identity so she doesn’t look so dense. But otherwise, the Golden Age Superman was solid.
Wonder Woman. Make it consistent that she does have some superhuman strength (say, lifting 9 tons). Severely tone down the bondage fetish stuff. Cut off the hi-tech level of Paradise Island to 1950s level tech (always about 10 years ahead of the comics).
And then the heroes who would be upgraded from bit players to carrying their own titles.
Air Wave. Remove the skating on power lines and focus on the helmet being able to detect, redirect, scramble, listen to, or broadcast into any electrical communications within a 2-mile radius. The aquamarine bodysuit conceals a light bulletproof vest. Retain the yellow cape as a half-cape, along with a wide V-shaped chest emblem, to keep him looking like a superhero. His supporting cast can be girlfriend Helen (who adopts his parrot Static) and a D.A.’s assistant who’s a real straight arrow and hates vigilantes like Air Wave. He’ll fight organized crime.
Aquaman. Keep him in the South Seas, fighting the Japanese Navy and pirates like Black Jack (who will have super-strength from a magic gem, maybe half as strong as Aquaman, so he still has to be crafty to win). Let him have some elements of the Silver Age Aquaman – some super-strength (maybe lift 6 tons), empathy with sea animals (they won’t attack him and he can sense what they’re feeling), and some connection with Atlantis (his mother was the baroness of a South Seas outpost, though he hasn’t seen an Atlantean in 7 years). His supporting cast can be a friendly sea captain and a U.S. Navy sailor.
Atom. Shorten the cape to a half-cape, give him blue tights so he’s not bare-legged and to match the hood and cape. Give him yellow gloves. Keep him a short scrapper, but he really needs a superpower. A recent college grad, he minored in chemistry and was working with some professors on a shrinking formula. It works, though only so far on the Atom, who can shrink to 3’ tall and, with his enhanced density, lift about 1 ton. He needs a purpose too, so he’s joined the U.S. Army and is in the tank division. His adventures are in Europe, where he’s still stationed even as the War winds down, and rights wrongs on the side as the Atom. His supporting cast can be his fellow officers, who learn he is the Atom and receive mysterious orders to allow the Atom to do whatever he wants in costume.
Bart Regan, Spy. Bart wouldn’t need much but to be taken up a notch. He could be a jet-setting, globe-trotting American James Bond before there was James Bond. He would still be in the Secret Service, since this is pre-CIA years, and have two agents under him he could both boss around but also pal around with. He would also be distinguished from James Bond by having a very close relationship with his fiancé, Sally Norris, who is also Secret Service.
Black Pirate. In 1558, privateer Jon Valor is to be hanged for having backed Mary, Queen of Scots. Jon escapes, takes up a new identity to hide as, and then another identity -- that of the Black Pirate -- to seek revenge against those who betrayed him. It would be Count of Monte Cristo mixed with Zorro on the high seas, with Queen Victoria as the big Bad Guy.