Feeling as though it were only yesterday when we were bombarded with a slew of #0 issues commemorating its first year, DC Comics’ New 52 initiative is steadily approaching the end of its second, with the publisher more than likely to announce some celebratory marketing gimmick in the months to come. But in the scant year and a half since DC took gasoline and matches to its decades-long web of continuity, we’ve been witnessing a steady pattern of cancellation announcements in almost the same breath that these new titles are announced. There are numerous factors that contribute to titles such as O.M.A.C. and Mister Terrific walking the green mile from the back issue rack to the dumpster, yet the obvious one is the fact that not every character is iconic or profitable enough to merit an ongoing… not like that’s stopped DC, or anything. As long as titles are canceled, they’ll keep releasing comics featuring D-listers to plug up the gaping wounds left behind in their monthly release schedule – and these are the 12 properties we pray they do not do any such thing with.
At this point in time we know next to nothing about the character Goldrush, who appeared not too long ago in both Justice League #16 and #19. The only things we’ve learned are that she has powers supposedly like the X-Men’s Colossus, operates out of Texas, wants the Flash for her hubby and is a recent divorcee. These are all odd qualities, yes, but her coming out of the blue without fanfare or a proper introduction is even stranger, if not suggesting that DC may be planning on doing something bigger with the superheroine. While it’s always nice to have more strong female heroes in the DC Universe, Goldrush has the word “generic” stamped all over her. From her flat name to, likewise, her powers, there’s no possible way she could hold up a monthly ongoing. It’s harsh, but DC can do without yet another lukewarm Justice League spin-off series that will perform every bit as well as Vibe or Katana.
2) Wild Dog
So we’re on the same page here, you’ve read — or are at the very least aware of — Punisher comics, right? Then there isn’t much else worth mentioning about Wild Dog, DC’s poorly executed take on Marvel’s solemn vigilante with a massive chip on his shoulder. Unlike his successful skull-emblazoned counterpart, Wild Dog’s wardrobe choice makes him look like the bastard lovechild of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Casey Jones and G.I. Joe’s Flint experiencing an identity crisis. And nothing else inspires criminals to piss their pants in sheer terror quite like the image of a generic cartoon dog seemingly pulled straight from the funny pages.
Of course, don’t take this as our saying that DC can never launch a series about a gun-slinging antihero. It’s merely that if the mood should strike them, the publisher would be better off utilizing a much more viable character like the Vigilante — of whom “borrows” and combines elements of the Punisher and Daredevil’s civilian identity, attorney Matt Murdock, into an interesting whole. But DC’s editorial staff we are not, and you know as well as we do that someone will convince the decision makers that some nonexistent fanbase is rioting in the streets demanding blood and a Wild Dog reboot.
3) Jimmy Olsen
From his distinctive artistic style to crafting the cosmic mythos of both the Marvel and DC Universes, Jack Kirby has more than earned his accolade as the “King of Comics” among fans and creatives. Yet one of his greatest and unsung abilities was his being able to take any idea, no matter how out there it was conceptually, and create something you were simply unable to ignore. The man could have sold anyone on a comic book starring a talking puddle of vomit, and it would have become a masterful benchmark against which other series following it are measured. As such, no one but Kirby had the Midas touch when it came to galvanizing the floundering title Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen during the ’70s; even back then the readership didn’t give two shits about the moronic escapades of The Daily Planet’s resident camera clod.
However, the only reason Kirby was even able to make Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen a worthwhile read was his using it as a vehicle for his “Fourth World” saga, deviating from its original intention as a showcase of Jimmy’s asinine adventures. But what worked over 40 years ago wouldn’t be able to hold up today as writer Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman is already handling the modern spin on the New Gods, which doesn’t leave a hypothetical Jimmy Olsen series much to work with. Which isn’t to say that the writers of the original series drew from a wellspring of ideas, not when it was a continuous cycle of plots involving Jimmy gaining super powers, found guilty of murdering Superman or getting embroiled in some gorilla-centric predicament. No wonder DC gave Kirby creative carte blanche with no resistance.
4) Cave Carson
Cave Carson and his team of intrepid spelunkers, debuting in Brave and the Bold #31, never managed to gain a foothold in the readership’s adoration, appearing mostly in anthology series or team-up books. And in an absolutely crushing turn of events, the cruel finger of fate saw fit to place Carson amongst a team of no-names known as the Forgotten Heroes (not so gently reaffirming that there was not a soul to be found in this world that loved him). It’s not as though we’d never want to see Carson make an appearance at some point in the New 52, but due to the creative restrictions that come with a hero that mostly hangs out in caves, there isn’t a lot of the diversity needed to maintain an ongoing. That’s unless DC is willing to give him a modern, unexpected reboot that runs with the obvious sensual innuendo in his name – and you do know what we’re talking about here…
5) Sugar and Spike
Sugar and Spike — a long-running comic book series about a pair of toddlers going by names typically associated with pole dancers and ’50s era greasers, respectively — has been lovingly adored by quite a few industry legends for years, praising it for its wholesome and endearing storytelling and art. Nevertheless, these aren’t the days when those aforementioned buzzwords equate to sales, and there isn’t an audience out there demanding the adventures of two tots that drive their parents over the edge of sanity with their ceaseless and adorably destructive antics. Having said that, a latter day Sugar and Spike title would have to keep pace with current baby-related issues in order to strive for relevancy. And stories centered around lethally substandard cribs and the discovery of shards of broken glass in baby food sort of leans more toward the depressingly grim than the lighthearted.
6) Uncle Sam
In the mad dash to create an all-American comic book superhero during World War II, Quality Comics — before being acquired by DC — released the premiere issue of National Comics starring Uncle Sam and his kid sidekick Buddy, flouting the repercussions of unsanctioned missions and reckless child endangerment to give the Axis powers a taste of star-spangled knuckle sandwich. Eventually, Uncle Sam was worked into DC’s Earth-Two, expanding on his powers being commensurate with the American people’s faith in their country’s ideals. This made sense in the ’40s, or even during the 1984 Summer Olympics, but thanks to discrediting cultural institutions like Honey Boo Boo and the Tea Party Movement sullying the nation’s domestic and global reputation, Uncle Sam would be reduced to a helpless invalid. And an opening splash of him face down in the gutter isn’t the best way to start a New 52 ongoing.
We may never see this come to pass as the New 52 is already home to a re-imagined Uncle Sam, last seen appearing in the limited series The Ray and Phantom Lady/Doll Man. To his credit, it doesn’t look like this Uncle Sam iteration would be done in by an Al Franken quip.
7) Red Bee
Like Uncle Sam, Red Bee was another Quality Comics character whose rights were purchased by DC, first making his debut in Hit Comics #1 prior to this acquisition. As his name so clearly implies, assistant district attorney Rick Raleigh fought crime in a costumed identity centered around a bee theme. Even if the insect in question doesn’t typically come in red… and pink and bright yellow, for that matter – which sort of complicates things. In addition to wielding a “stinger gun,” Red Bee’s arsenal predominantly consisted of trained bees, with one in particular – carrying the respectable moniker of Michael – being his personal favorite. Apart from his relative obscurity, there isn’t much stopping Red Bee from having a New 52 series, except for his insect of choice dangling over the precipice of extinction in today’s world.
Think for a minute, if Red Bee is using bees to subdue criminals, then they’re no doubt stinging their victim to death. And, because evolution willed it so, these bees will die the moment the stinger is torn from their abdomen, necessitating the need for immediate replacements. With Red Bee’s wasteful and ecologically damaging crime-fighting angle, his greatest enemy would likely be the American Beekeeping Federation.
8) Stanley and His Monster
Stanley and his Monster first appeared in their own titular back-up story within issue #95 of The Fox and the Crow Comics, insidiously taking over the host title like an invasive parasite until it was rebranded as its own series with #109. It wasn’t until the early ’90s when it was revealed that Stanley’s monster was in fact a demon given the bum’s rush out of Hell for being too nice (a similar problem the Department of Motor Vehicles contends with on a regular basis). His underworld brethren hoped mankind’s habit of wanting to kill all things new and unfamiliar would build some character, but the Monster instead ended up becoming the best demonic friend a kid could ever ask for. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the exact reason why a rebooted Stanley and His Monster comic wouldn’t even make it beyond the printer. What kind of parent today would be 100% okay with their kid reading the story of Stanley and his beloved hellspawn? Stuff like that is what loads up those anti-comic book whackjobs with plenty of misinformed ammunition.
9) Inferior Five
To put it succinctly, the Inferior Five are a team of heroes that suck royally at their poorly chosen vocation, embarrassing the superhero community and their far more competent parents: the Freedom Brigade. To put their exploits into perspective, it was not too far removed from a bunch of Comic Con cosplayers hitting the streets to fight crime, except that – because it’s a work of fiction – they were never pummeled into a coma. There’s no further explaining why readers wouldn’t want to so much as leaf through a New 52 series starring inept heroes led by what looks like Rick Moranis in a court jester’s outfit, although one particular member, Dumb Bunny, might. Besieged by accusations of sexism of late – and their controversy surrounding Starfire in Red Hood and Outlaws remaining not quite forgiven – DC would only dig the hole its currently found itself in deeper if they decide to give Dumb Bunny, a superheroine that essentially embodies demeaning female stereotypes, a modern update. If by some insane editorial decision DC decides to go ahead with this, then, well, the publisher better start shoveling.
10) Legion of Super-Pets
In a similar vein to sidekicks, public sentiment over the purpose super-powered pets serve in the superhero genre is a debatable point at best, with a majority – if not the entirety – of the comic book-reading community revolted by the mere notion of them. With the general consensus not in their favor, the last thing DC Comics should ever consider publishing is a Legion of Super-Pets series. Not to beat a dead horse (an apropos idiom given the following statement), but does the readership seriously need to be subjected to a disturbing revisit of the cringe-inducing, convoluted Supergirl/Super-Horse romance and its unintentional (as far as we know) bestiality subtext? Hopefully it will, now and forever, remain in the darkest recesses of obscurity, resurfacing only when a demented madman unearths it for his own malevolent ends.
As for the rest of the Super-Pets, Streaky’s name has, nowadays, become synonymous with the fecal phenomenon when a haphazardly wiped derriere makes contact with underwear, so he’s out. Beppo the Super-Monkey is probably one day spent too long in his cage away from mauling Superman’s face off. Krypto we like in the nostalgic sense (since we’re not a bunch of dog-hating monsters) – not in that give-him-a-New-52-ongoing-tout-de-suite kind of way.
11) Strange Sports Stories
Strange Sports Stories first appeared as a feature in The Brave and the Bold for five issues before it received a limited series in 1973. And with DC having already canceled the revitalized anthology series DC Comics Presents after 19 issues, you can’t put it past them to introduce an ersatz replacement. Let’s approach this realistically: the target audience that occupies the overlap of the comic book and sports markets is small and carries minimal profitability. Plus, the concept of a monthly series that centers on bizarre occurrences in the world of professional sports is redundant given that the real world is already full of them. Think Dennis Rodman’s night on the town with Kim Jong-un, Shane Stant the Leg Breaker, and – the most mind-boggling of all – the bitter truth that athletes get paid more than an entire office of people would ever hope to see in a lifetime, combined!
12) Binky’s Buddies
For the sake of colorful analogies, Archie Comics and its plethora of spin-off series are akin to a global superpower of small town teenage drama and societal/cultural savvy. Binky’s Buddies (originally going by the title Leave It to Binky) was DC’s derivative attempt at replicating the success of the Riverdale gang’s misadventures, naturally never garnering the longevity and success of its rival. If DC’s editors were audacious enough to catapult Binky and the rest of his crew into the modern era as a part of their New 52 initiative, it would be tantamount to a declaration of war, with each side assaulting the other with lawsuits and petty verbal potshots. Still, that’s a pretty accurate way to describe the entire comic book industry in a nutshell.