Thursday, August 28, 2014

Heroes of a Golden Age DC 52 - pt. 2

Crimson Avenger. Keep the red trench coat, fedora, and mask look, but over a tight-fitting bodysuit. Keep the retcon idea of him using a gun that shoots a red smokescreen instead of the gas gun.  Upgrade the Kato-like Wing to Crimson’s partner, wearing a similar costume, but a shorter coat and no hat, and call him Redwing.  Make it a buddy story, like the Green Hornet movie, but taking itself about 20% more seriously. Although still based in New York City, as a member of the Soldiers of Victory he goes wherever the government asks him to.

Dr. Fate.  Reveal that the whole half-masked crimefighter version of Dr. Fate was made-up so he could take his relationship with Inza to the next level, by realizing that he’s been negligent in being the world’s supernatural protector and there’s lots of cosmic badness descending on Earth, attracted by all the evil of WWII.  To make up for lost time, Dr. Fate rejects his false identity of Kent Nelson and returns to being a magical construct the Elder Gods created 400 years ago, who is now ready to take those same gods down.  It’s going to be like Terminator 2, with Dr. Fate as the Terminator, Inza as Sarah Conner, and instead of a shape-shifting Terminator, the ‘Elder Gods’ of Dunsany and Lovecraft.

Dr. Mid-Nite.  Dr. Mid-Nite moves to Hawaii, where he fights Japanese agents. The pet owl stays at home. Play up the doctor angle (like was done with Dr. Mid-Nite II in the modern JSA), using medical knowledge to find weaknesses in his foes, or to save his injured foes after kicking their butts.  As an active JSA member, expect lots of guest-appearances.

Gay Ghost. Play up the relationship between the possessed Charles Collins and his fiancée. Charles feels violated and emasculated by being possessed by another man, while the spirit of Keith Everet is pure ego and neglectful of Charles’ feelings. They’re an odd couple who will have to learn to live together. Eventually, before Charles and Deborah Wallace can get married, she’ll have to learn about Charles’ secret and learn to deal with it.

Ghost Patrol.  Fred, Pedro, and Slim are the ghosts of three French Foreign Legionnaires, each possessing their original weapons – a rifle, handgun, and knife. Their book is an anthology war book, as the weapons fall into the hands of various soldiers fighting in the closing months of warfare in the European Theater of WWII and the ghosts guide the soldiers wielding their weapons to victory.

Green Arrow.  Downplay the similarities to Batman -- Green Arrow works out of an abandoned hangar, not an “Arrow Cave”, drives a motorcycle instead of an “Arrow Car” and uses an autogyro not called the “Arrow Plane” if he absolutely has to travel by air. Speedy is a 13-year old boy and make him a nephew instead of a ward.  Although still based in Star City, as a member of the Soldiers of Victory he goes wherever the government asks him to. If he was working for the Fair Employment Practices Committee, it might open his eyes to racial inequality that marked the social agenda of his Silver Age version.  

Hawkman.  Play up the reincarnation, remembering ancient Egypt aspect of his origin and ignore the talking to birds and hanging out with birds stuff. But Hawkman is situated in the Philippines (Carter Hall joined Interceptor Coast Command and Hawkgirl is a war nurse by day), allowing for lots of South Seas adventure, as well as fighting the Japanese. As a JSA member, expect crossovers.

Hop Harrigan. A vigilante in the air, Hop Harrigan is assumed dead, but is still around in the European Theater, shooting down enemy planes from an unmarked plane and becoming known as the Guardian Angel.

Johnny Thunder. Johnny is in the Navy, Pacific Theater. Commander Sewell and his superiors know about Johnny’s magic Thunderbolt (genie), so they put up with how Johnny’s a bit of a screw-up (though he does something smart about 1 time in 3).  Johnny gets transferred around a lot as they try to find a niche for him.  And sometimes he gets called away to do JSA business too.

King.  A spy working for the Office of Strategic Services and putting his mastery of disguise to good use. King will never allow his face to be seen, choosing to wear a mask when not in disguise. King is like a 1940s James Bond.

Manhunter.  Keep Kirby's version of Paul Kirk, a big game hunter returned to the states, turned P.I. + vigilante (depending on whether he's getting paid or not).  

Mr. America.  Tex Thompson was a soldier of fortune, but now he’s a soldier infiltrating Germany. He loses his flying carpet, but picks up a pistol that shoots exploding bullets (which he has to use judiciously, as it’s hard to come by exploding bullets). Bob Haney is still his sidekick, but calls himself Bob instead of Fatman.  Mr. America is still Zorro-like, otherwise, posing as a wealthy landholder by day, but attacking Germany instead of defending Mexico.

Mr. Terrific.  Keep the green jacket over the red bodysuit, but ditch the “Fair Play” badge on his chest and change it to each word being written on a pocket on either side of his jacket. Since combatting juvenile delinquency is one of his priorities, he picks up two kid sidekicks, both around 9.  He’s purely an urban crime fighter otherwise.

Newsboy Legion.  Other than letting Big Words figure out that Roy Harper is the Guardian (and protecting his secret from the others), this title could be left largely as-is. The four newsies should be established as being 10 years old.  Being a “legion”, they should probably pick up at least one new member – but NOT Flippa Dippa.

Penniless Palmer.  A vain, short man with big wavy brown hair, Palmer is a P.I., but a literally poor one.  He lives in the office he can barely keep open, doesn’t have a gun because he always has to sell it for food when he does have one, gets around on foot a lot because he can’t afford the bus let alone a car, and often takes dangerous cases but fails to get paid.

Red, White, and Blue.  Red Dugan of Army G2 Intelligence, Whitey Smith (Army), and “Blooey” Blue (Navy) are three experienced combat veterans already in their late 20s who have a series of war-themed adventures that are 2/3 serious and 1/3 comedy.

Sandman.  Keep him in the black and yellow tights, as per Kirby’s redesign.  Bring back Dian Belmont (only shortly presumed dead) and get those two engaged.  Sandy is his 12 year old kid sidekick (and Dian’s nephew).  Maybe bring back the gas gun more, but keep everything else Kirby-riffic.

Scribbly and the Red Tornado.  Scribbly is a 13-year old professional cartoonist now, following the adventures of the Red Tornado and the 12-year old Cyclone Kids.  Scribbly knows Red is really Ma Hunkel and the Kids are her children Huey and Amelia, but conceals their identities to write about a more dashing male superhero Red Tornado.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heroes of a Golden Age DC 52: Part 1

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.