ROLL CALL: Heroes Ready for Comic Book Greatness

Mon, July 7th, 2014 at 9:58am PDT

Comic Books
Marc Buxton, Contributing Writer
11

It's a very interesting time to be a comic book fan. With a veritable assault from Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox, Warners Bros./DC Comics, Sony, and more on film and television, characters that comic fans love will literally be everywhere -- on the silver screen, on an unprecedented number of broadcast and cable networks and on new platforms like Netflix and PlayStation Network. But as we know, the best place to thrill to the adventures of their favorite heroes, villains, gods and monsters is in the pages of the comics that started it all.

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With all these media projects, more eyes will be on the world of comics than ever before. How this will affect the comic book market, both brick-and-mortar stores and digital platforms, remains to be seen, but this is the first time so many characters that aren't necessarily featured in a monthly comic are about to make an impression on the general public -- which offers all kinds of possibilities. With a new golden age of exposure right around the corner, we're taking a look at which potential icons we feel are ready to step into the publishing spotlight. Some of these characters are about to make multi-platform media splashes for the first time, others are characters fans miss handing over their hard-earned cash for every Wednesday, and all of them are worthy of heading up their own comic series.

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Phil Coulson and his Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The show received lukewarm reactions at first, but once it got hit by the events of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." hit its stride and heated up ABC's programming by the end of its first season. The lesson learned is that it seems that the more the agents merge with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the more fans are willing to embrace the team, and a monthly comic introducing Melinda May, Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz to the world of Marvel publishing could be an intriguing way to have the Agents interact with characters they cannot or will not meet on the show. Coulson features heavily in "Secret Avengers" and a number of other high profile books, but a book featuring Nick Fury's right hand man along with the television agents could work out well for Marvel.

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold

Reports on new characters for season three of The CW's "Arrow" indicate that one new regular cast member; a character simply going by the enigmatic name of Daniel. Described as "a handsome, enigmatic and highly intelligent entrepreneur developing groundbreaking technology. Though exuding charm and confidence in public, he privately harbors a tragic past that will drive him to become a tech-powered superhero" -- that certainly sounds like Ted Kord, aka the Blue Beetle, to us. Whether this particular hero will become a part of "Arrow" or not remains to be seen, but the presence of Blue Beetle in a monthly book is greatly missed by many DC fans. Whether it be Kord or Jamie Reyes or even Dan Garrett, any Blue Beetle would be welcome.

For the sake of argument let's move forward with Ted Kord, and let's add Booster Gold for some superhero magic. Booster is akin to something like DC's Doctor Who -- a time-traveling champion, who may not be as smart as the Doctor, or as charming, or as brave, but he is popular, and his enduring friendship with Blue Beetle is one of the most missed aspects of the pre-New 52 Universe. Yes, he's headlining one of the "Futures End" one shots, and there are indications we're set to see him starring in another ongoing soon, but we'd like to put forth the idea of bringing a Beetle along for the ride. And, hey - more Booster is great, but it's time fans got to thrill to the adventures of the classic Blue and Gold once more.

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones

One of the most exciting projects coming our way is Marvel's Netflix deal. With the casting of Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Foggy Nelson and whomever Rosario Dawson is going to play helping build anticipation for the event, it's time to turn our attention to Marvel's other Netflix series: "Iron Fist," "Luke Cage" and "Jessica Jones." (We'll leave "Defenders" alone for the time being, since it's being built from the events of the other four series.) Iron Fist is already starring in a monthly comic, but Luke Cage, despite being featured in "Mighty Avengers," is conspicuously absent from the solo comic scene. In fact, even though Luke has played a huge role in almost a decade's worth of "Avengers" and "New Avengers" stories, he hasn't had his own monthly book since the early nineties, and Jessica's solo adventuring hasn't been seen since "The Pulse" wrapped in 2006. With their own Netflix shows around the corner, it's time to change that, and give the Marvel U a new 'first couple.' Cage was a staple of the Bronze Age and has a rich supporting cast and a rogues gallery in desperate need of a modern overhaul, and Jessica has been underused in her appearances in various Avengers series. A book about Luke and Jessica as a new dad and mom, and husband and wife by day and street level heroes and Avengers by night could be a great read.

Ant-Man

As Ant-Man, Hank Pym starred as one of Marvel's first features in the pages of "Tales to Astonish," but other than that and the Eric O'Grady-starring "Irredeemable Ant-Man," the size-changing Avenger has never had his own monthly. With Paul Rudd set to launch the character into the public's awareness a year from now, the time is ripe for an all-new Ant-Man comic. Following his solo flick and, we're guessing, "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Ant-Man will be everywhere. The Scott Lang take on the character is the focus of the film, and has also been benefiting from a raised profile in the pages of Marvel's just-wrapped "FF" series and the currently running "Original Sin" event. It's not crazy to think the hero is being primed for his own solo adventures, and considering the character's legacy as one of Marvel Comics' oldest and most enduring characters, it's just time to give him a shot in the solo spotlight.

Doctor Strange

Of all the ideas on our list, this one is probably the biggest no-brainer. Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso have said flat out that there are huge plans afoot for Stephen Strange post "Original Sin," and that only makes sense. With director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) on board, the good doctor is about to become as hot a property as he's ever been. In the recent past, talents like Brian K. Vaughan and Mark Waid have tried to make the Sorcerer Supreme a mega-star, but despite both writers' take on the good Doctor being solid reads, the character just hasn't quite clicked enough to sustain an ongoing monthly series. But thanks to the upcoming movie, and an increased profile from his appearances in numerous Avengers comics and Marvel events, this is probably the best moment in the character's long and storied history to once again grant the Sorcerer Supreme a chance at helming a self-titled comic.

Indiana Jones

Things have been quiet on the Indiana Jones front for a good long while, but with Marvel rekindling their relationship with Lucasfilm thanks to the recent Disney acquisition, dreams of four-color Indy adventures could certainly become a reality once again. With the fedora-wearing adventurer's film future relatively uncertain, why not bring him back to the pages of a monthly comic? Now, no one has mentioned plans for Indy, but Marvel did publish his first comic book appearance, in the early '80s. Imagine the modern murderer's row of Marvel creators trying their hands at Indiana Jones -- the idea of Brian Michael Bendis, Kieron Gillen, Dan Slott, Mark Waid or Greg Rucka getting a chance to forge new adventures for the world's most famous archeologist is almost too good. Then imagine artists like Phil Noto, Jerome OpeƱa or Chris Samnee doing their artistic best on the Nazi bashing, fedora wearing, ladies man. Again, no one at Marvel or Disney has indicated this will happen, but it's hard to argue that Marvel doesn't have access to creators who could make it great.

Mystique

She was once a semi-major "X-Men" villain, but now she is so much more. Jennifer Lawrence has increased the public's awareness of Raven Darkholme in the last two X-Men films, and Marvel could do worse than to increase the character's publishing profile. Brian K. Vaughan and Sean McKeever proved that Mystique could carry her own book a decade ago, and that was before the morally ambiguous mutant was a major focus of Fox's film franchise. Marvel has never had a publishing line-up as strong as it's current one as far as female-driven titles goes, and with the right team in place, a monthly "Mystique" book would fit nicely alongside the likes of "She-Hulk," "Black Widow" Ms. Marvel" and "Captain Marvel."

Agent Carter

Who would have ever imagined that an almost forgotten supporting character of the Silver Age would one day have her own prime time television series? And yet, that's exactly what will happen in 2015 when Marvel Television presents the adventures of Peggy Carter in the post-Captain America days of World War II. Hayley Atwell has already captured moviegoer hearts, and by framing her as one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel could easily extend her adventures into a monthly comic. Period can be a tough sell in mainstream comics, but with anticipation for the show fueling interest in the character, a "Peggy Carter: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." series could be Marvel's legacy book, where the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the impact of the first Golden Age heroes are fully explored, showing just how the Marvel Universe was affected by the loss of Captain America in the waning days of the second World War.

Ninjak

He's been all over the new Valiant Universe, a suave engine of destruction that has made an undeniable impact in the pages of "X-O"Manowar" or "Unity." Valiant has done a great job integrating the enigmatic character into its shared universe, so much so that we really want to see the character fleshed out in his own series. The publisher has been doing an exemplary job keeping its small line of books streamlined, presenting an alternative to the wider, event-driven worlds of Marvel and DC, but hey -- there's got to be room for one more title. Fred Van Lente has done an amazing job on all the Valiant properties he has touched, and would be solid choice to explore the history of the character. Or perhaps Robert Venditti, the writer who introduced the modern day Ninjak to readers in "XO," could be convinced to spin the tale of the master killer. Whoever the potential creative team might be, the bottom line is, it's time for the already established Ninjak to step up and become a monthly lead.

Legion of Super-Heroes

In recent months, DC has been taking a look five years into the future with its weekly "Futures End" series, and come September, we're about to spend a whole month exploring the future. But for many DC fans, half a decade simply doesn't cut it. For more than fifty years, readers have been able to travel a thousand years into the DCU's future with the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion will take part in the "Futures End" event, which is good to know, but it's difficult to fathom that we are living in a time with no "Legion of Super-Heroes" comic. For decades, "Legion" has been one of DC's staple books, and though the "Legion of Super-Heroes" has rarely been a chart topper, the book has some of the most loyal and proud fans in comicdom. DC tried two "Legion" launches when the New 52 began, but alas, both quickly fizzled. Despite that less-than-successful relaunch, the LoSH is an indelible part of DC Comics history, so let's hope their "Futures End" return is really just a new beginning for the storied superteam.

JSA

From the future of the DC Universe to the past, one of the aspects of the DCU fans greatly miss in this New 52 era is the sense of legacy. What makes Captain America so special over at Marvel is that his heroism stretches back lifetimes; he is a tether to history and pure-hearted heroism. DC used to have an entire Society of Captain Americas and hopefully, one day soon, it will again. While "Earth 2" has been an innovative and compelling book since its inception, to fully thrive, the JSA needs a connection to the past. The group is at its best when it is composed of modern day heroes following the lessons and legacy of the Axis smashers of yesterday. DC wants its New 52's first hero to be Superman, which is fine, but there's a literal multiverse of places the JSA can return. A series of Earth One OGNs, perhaps, taking place in the pre-New 52 DCU? New takes and reboots are fun, but many fans want to see DC playing the classics somewhere, somehow, once again.

Shazam

He was featured in his own "Justice League" back-up story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, he played a major role in "Forever Evil" and is now a core member of the League. On the multimedia front, he replaced Aquaman in the animated "Justice League: War," and he's currently one of the DC characters rumored to to be a part of Warner Bros.' cinematic plans. The character has not appeared in a monthly series since Jerry Ordway's "Power of Shazam!" ended many years ago, but Shazam and his family of character have continued to play major roles in the DCU, both pre- and post-New 52. If the rumors are true -- Johns hinted at the possibility of a Shazam title in the works during a recent Reddit AMA -- it would not only be nice to see Billy Batson featured in his own monthly again, but the hypothetical new title could also provide a DCU roster spot for Black Adam, a villain who has become iconic in his own right. Johns and Frank introduced some potentially compelling characters in their "JL" tale, and a monthly series would be the perfect place to further flesh out Mary, Freddie and the rest.

Cyborg

Ever since DC featured Cyborg as part of the New 52 version of the Justice League rumors have been rampant that Vic Stone will receive his own monthly, a theory granted additional heat during the previously mentioned Geoff Johns' AMA. With the character take such a huge role in the "Justice League: War" animated feature, not to mention his regular spot on "Teen Titans Go!," Vic Stone's profile is greater than ever before -- even bigger than the days of "Super Friends" cartoons and "Super Powers" action figures! And with Ray Fisher playing Cyborg (or at least the pre-cybernetic Vic Stone) in "Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice," the character's Q rating may soon pop off the charts. With Cyborg featuring so prominently in animation and film (and let's not forget the character's inclusion in "Smallville" a few years back), the time is ripe for this former Teen Titan turned founding member of the Justice League to rise to the top of DC's publishing plans.

Big Hero 6

A few years ago, even the most devout Wednesday Warrior would have a hard time remembering Big Hero 6, a team that first appeared in Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau's run on "Alpha Flight" before being granted their own miniseries. Boy, is all that about to change. The story of Hiro Hamada, Baymax, Wasabi No-Ginger, Gogo Tomago, Fred Zilla and Honey Lemon has the potential to be Disney's superhero "Frozen." And should it take off, Marvel is in an amazing position to capitalize on the subsequent preteen frenzy. "Big Hero Six" could, frankly, become the most visible Marvel heroes of the year, and Marvel could make worse decisions than returning the team to their own monthly book. Sure, the previous minis didn't set the world on fire, but the new fans who could potentially be grabbed by Disney's next big screen feature could become new eyeballs to the world of comics. And hey, if Marvel doesn't want the tonally different characters of "Big Hero 6" to be bigger pieces in its more adult universe, then perhaps the House of Ideas can take the "Figment" route, leveraging the Disney brand name and setting up the 6 with their own continuity designed for younger readers.

Daryl Dixon

Robert Kirkman is sitting on a character that could be the biggest star in monthly comics. When new readers discover "The Walking Dead" comics after living and breathing the AMC show, they inevitably ask, "Where's Daryl?" Well, while Kirkman has stated that he's got absolutely no plans to introduce Daryl in the monthly comic -- though he does seem to enjoy keeping fan hope alive at conventions -- we're free to imagine, what if...? Daryl is quite possibly the most visible and beloved character connected to a comic book created in the last 20 years, yet he only exists on television. When Image and Kirkman tweeted a comic image of Daryl to mess with the actor that brings Daryl to life, Norman Reedus, on April Fools' Day, the gag image only helped fan the flames of fan interest in a comic book Daryl Dixon. Daryl is arguably one of the most popular characters currently on television, and if Kirkman were to ever change his mind and pull the trigger, he could potentially be the most popular character in comics.

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