Wednesday Comments – The Limbo Shelf

If I were working as an editor for DC Comics I’d either be fired in a week or (eventually) be credited with helping turn the creative tide at the company. A few months ago I wrote a column about how I perceived the current climate at DC to be stifling creativity. And now I’m back to expound on that subject some more.

As I said back then, some of the most widely respected stories from DC’s past are stories are out of continuity and take risks because of it. Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, New Frontier and The Golden Age all fall into that category. And stories outside of continuity are something that DC’s really not interested in doing at the moment.

And I completely get that; if you want people to care about your main line of titles, don’t give them any other option.

But to me it seems like DC is leaving money on the table, especially when you consider that characters such as Wally West and Stephanie Brown have large and vocal supporters clamoring for their return.

So why doesn’t DC try to have their cake and eat it too?

Granted, The Flash only had two Elseworlds stories, back when DC was still making Elseworlds stories, but that doesn’t mean that if DC asked for miniseries pitches involving Wally West that weren’t set in the New 52 or Pre-Flashpoint DCU they wouldn’t get writers submissions.

And “just imagine” what someone would do with Stephanie Brown, a young woman whose father was a costumed criminal. Even without setting a book in Gotham or invoking Bat-mythos, you could still come up with a decent story. Perhaps even Kick-Ass-esque?

Wally West and Stephanie Brown are just two characters that people always ask about, there are a ton of other characters that exist (or don’t exist) in a limbo because of Flashpoint. There are characters who held their own titles, like Kate “Manhunter” Spencer, Cassandra “Batgirl” Cain, Connor “Green Arrow” Hawke and Damage.

There’s basically an entire team of characters that DC is doing nothing with; Infinity, Inc. Watchmen was impactful because Alan Moore couldn’t use the Charlton heroes and had to come up with thinly veiled substitutes. A story involving the Infinity, Inc crew would work out either way. You’ve got Jade, Obsidian, Dr Mid-Nite (or Dr. Midnight), Fury, Northwind, Nuklon, Silver Scarab, Hourman and Wildcat.

Again, what if DC asked creators for a story pitch involving those characters and giving the writer the freedom to do whatever they wanted with them. DC’d have no reason to care, because those characters are taken off the table at this point.

DC could have a regular series of miniseries featuring imaginary stories about characters that DC’s not using right now anyway.

Want some more characters? Jesse Quick, Amazing Man, Fire & Ice, Garth (Aqualad) and Donna Troy. Characters, and more importantly intellectual property that DC has sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

And I’m certain that these books would be popular. DC could tease the fans by announcing the triumphant return of Wally West and get a nice boost of publicity. And I’m sure the creators would flock to write a story that a) was free of editorial interference and b) allowed them to write a character free of continuity baggage.

Maybe one day DC will see the error of their ways with the New 52, but until then they might as well let those limo characters see a bit of action.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday go and get some piping hot and fresh new comics.

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