By Arturo R. García
DC Comics’ Deadman brought to television by the folks behind Supernatural? Makes sense, if the story holds up.
Much like SPN’s Winchester brothers, Deadman (aka ghostly acrobat Boston Brand) would give showrunner Eric Kripke another outlet for his horror/comedy stylings. Since Boston has to possess people to do anything in the physical realm, one can only hope a Deadman TV show, if it actually gets past the pilot stage, would actually feature more people who aren’t white.
But we wouldn’t bet on it.
Still, the biggest problem with Deadman is, before recent miniseries like Blackest Night and Brightest Day revived interest in him, DC played Boston as more of a “professional” guest-star, to be called upon for stories involving demons, posession and whatnot, crack wise with the core characters, then shuffle off back to the afterlife. And with DC’s “New 52” relaunch starting tomorrow, it’s a good time to highlight characters who have come into greater prominence than Deadman over the course of the past decade, only to get passed up for bigger media opportunities.
Jaime Reyes is ready for prime-time right now. He’s been promoted on media platforms besides his own critically-acclaimed comic, and the test footage above, which made the viral rounds last year, showed us his extraterrestrial battlesuit can be done for the small screen – in fact it already was, even if it was for Smallville.
Besides that, DC’s animation division has already provided a blueprint for how to handle Reyes’ story arc, after featuring him on Batman: The Brave and The Bold.
In fact, there’s not that much separating Jaime from the Clark Kent we saw in Smallville: Midwestern setting? Check. Friday Night Lights proved that people will follow a series set in Texas – Jaime lives in El Paso – if the story’s up to snuff. Young hero dealing with his legacy? Check. In fact, you could do what BATB did and bring in Wil Wheaton as Jaime’s predecessor, Ted Kord, for flashback sequences or a time-travel arc. And Jaime’s trajectory is still malleable enough to open the door to the kinds of Guest Superhero appearances Smallville gorged itself on in its’ final season.
2. Static Shock
Before there was Jaime, there was Virgil Hawkins, who has gone from being the most-popular character from the dearly-departed Milestone Universe to his own eponymous solo series in the DC relaunch. And in between, he was exposed to a whole other fanbase in a critically-acclaimed animated series, where he was written to stand alongside – and stand up to – some of DC Animated’s bigger guns:
Virgil’s best friend Richie – aka Gear, the kid in the glasses in the clip above – could add another dimension to a Static show. Static’s creator, the late Dwayne McDuffie, said he considered Richie to be gay, even if he couldn’t acknowledge it on a kids’ show. But that relationship could be explored on a show skewing toward the crowd that’s grown up in the years since the cartoon aired.
3. The Question
The unlikely success and subsequent renewal of Nikita should make DC take notice: there is still a market for female-driven action stories outside of basic cable. A series following Renee Montoya’s adventures could provide The CW with a good complement to Maggie Q’s show.
Not only can Renee explore the seamier side of Gotham police procedural-style (or anywhere, really,if you must get her away from the Bat-brand), working with or against former police colleagues, but DC elements like Intergang and the Religion of Crime open the door for creators to do stories that won’t encroach on Nikita’s spy-vs-spy setting.
Leverage showrunner John Rogers has coined the phrase Competence Porn to describe his show. You could also apply the label to programs like Burn Notice and White Collar, where it’s generally accepted that the leads are 1) good at what they do; 2) not prone to doing something dumb for the sake of “conflict.” And a character like Michael Holt – in DC canon, the third-smartest man in the world – fits that description to a tee, according to Eric Wallace, who will be writing Holt’s solo adventures in the upcoming series Mister Terrific.
“He’s a brilliant scientist with a whole bunch of degrees,” Wallace told Buddy TV. “He spreads his science knowledge all over the world, and at the same time his job is insuring our future. His job is keeping an eye on science gone mad, so that we still have a future. That’s what he does as a superhero, so you have a setup — it’s very clear — but then it’s off to the races.”
Wallace already has experience writing brainy do-gooders from his work on Eureka, which gives him a leg up on charting Holt’s course. Hopefully, if the new series takes off in the midst of the hype, it could give Mister T some consideration for greener media pastures.
The ranking “veteran” of this group, Mari McCabe was introduced in the comics way back in 1981, and has gone on to be written into various incarnations of the Justice League of America. But as with Static and Blue Beetle, it was her inclusion in DC’s animated universe that enabled creators to give her a bigger showcase.
As she was written on Justice League Unlimited, Vixen was able to reconcile her glamorous side with her superheroics, and entered a relationship with Green Lantern without being scripted to be The Other Woman. Beyond that, though, the hook should be a gimme: she’s a model who saves the world. As lead-ins go, America’s Next Top Model could do far, far worse.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Characters like Ryan Choi, Cassandra Cain, Swift and The Engineer, Orpheus and Onyx, to name just a few, are, at this point, sitting around unused. If DC’s Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns, is serious about changing the game for his company, he needs to accept that characters from the Silver Age are not the only valuable properties he can steer outside of comics into other media. In fact, he would do well to remember that it wasn’t Spider-Man or the X-Men or even Iron Man that made Marvel Comics properties palatable for the movies – it was Blade. Is Johns willing to believe in nostalgia that might not necessarily be his own? Let’s hope so.
But we’re not betting on it.