In the eighteen months since DC rolled out their streamlined New 52 Universe there have been plenty of winners and even a few losers. Such a thing is, of course, subjective, and fans are eager to argue at great length about where the company went right and where they zigged when they should have zagged. A favorite topic of debate is the missing characters of the DC Universe. Obviously, if there is to be any coherence in the narrative, not every DC character can be reintroduced as soon as the fan community begins salivating. Still, DC is pretty savvy to tease fans with the promised return of their darlings. So here, for your reading pleasure, are the 25 DC characters that have yet to join the world of high-collars, and some speculation on where these characters would, could, or should pop up!
25. Ryan Choi
One of DC’s mission statements since the reboot has been diversity. While Ray Palmer has appeared in Frankenstein, there is still no Atom to be found in the current DCU. Clearly, there are plans for Palmer, but what’s to stop Ryan Choi from taking up the mantle? Choi had a stellar supporting cast and a great motivation in Gail Simone’s all-too-brief run on All-New Atom. A return to the spotlight would add the needed diversity that DC desires and feature a second chance for a great character to shine once again. And really, he deserves an apology for that awful send-off pre-reboot.
Put him in: Justice League, Savage Hawkman, Frankenstein (if it wasn’t tragically canceled)
24. Dr. Mid-Nite
If I was a Hollywood shill, I’d say he’s “Batman meets House.” But I’m not, so I’ll just say I miss the heck out of Charles McNider. The blindness angle, the terrific costume, the contradiction of a healer moonlighting as a bone-breaking vigilante, the owl, all make the good Doctor a great addition to the new DC. Ok, maybe not the owl.
Put him in: Earth 2, Justice League, Stormwatch
Yeah, I’m a JSA fan, wanna fight about it? The question of a superhero powered by a super steroid makes a contemporary version of Hourman a fascinating, possibly controversial, prospect for the new DC. Rex Tyler has the heart of a hero, but the drugs and morality of what he does to his own body to help others can be an intriguing area of exploration.
Put him in: Earth 2, Justice League, Justice League America, Suicide Squad, Team 7.
22. Renee Montoya
Renee was an awesome Question, no doubt. But she was such a vital and interesting part of the GCPD that she’s greatly missed. Her street-wise, world weary banter with Harvey Bullock was a welcome addition to the Bat-titles. The New 52 gives the Bat-writers a great opportunity to reclaim Renee as Gotham’s toughest detective. With Vic Sage looming in the wings, there could be potential for a reconnect between the two, but in the meantime, the streets of Gotham need this multi-layered crime-buster back. Her demise has been hinted at in the pages of Batwoman, but DC would have to be pretty short-sighted to shuffle her off to Kate Kane’s back story.
Put her in: Batman, Batwoman, Batgirl, or wherever Vic Sage pops up next.
21. Elongated Man
Poor Ralph. The new 52 gives the stretchable sleuth a platform to be great again without the specter of his wife’s rape and murder hanging over the character like a shroud. A sense of whimsy and a nice procedural story usually follows Ralph around, and while the Flash has been a great read, the speedster can certainly use a stronger supporting cast. And boy, does Sue Dibny deserve a time to shine.
Put him in: Flash, Justice League, Detective Comics
20. Plastic Man
Speaking of stretching, one of DC’s most iconic characters has yet to make a return to the New 52. Or maybe he has and readers just mistook him for a fire hydrant or something. The story of a former crook nursed back to health by monks after a chemical bath and swearing to make up for his past misdeeds is just as compelling today as it was 70 years ago. Plastic Man is the trickster in the JLA’s pantheon and deserves a return to his former glory. And a little levity is always welcome.
Put him in: Justice League, Suicide Squad, Earth 2
19. Hawkwoman (Shayera Hol)
Hawkgirl has been kicking ass in Earth 2, but the Earth 1 Savage Hawkman has seemed kind of directionless from the beginning, perhaps, because Carter Hall is missing his other half. Geoff Johns established the Hawks as the emotional center of the DCU, and it seems creators are having a hard time writing one without the other. The introduction of Hawkwoman can give the Hawkman title the kick it needs to break the predictability and mediocrity that is left in the wake of Rob Leifeld’s rather public departure from the title.
Put her in: Justice League America, Savage Hawkman
The arrival of the Wildstorm characters in the DCU proper has met with mixed results. Voodoo and Grifter died on the vine, yet Stormwatch continues to be a solid read. Fans seem to be clamoring for a WildC.A.T.s return, and what better way to pave that particular street with the return for the Superman analog, Union?
Put him in: Stormwatch, Superman, Team 7, Ravagers, Justice League, wherever the heck WildC.A.T.s will return…
17. Icon and Rocket
It’s way past time for some Milestone love in the New DC. I sense sincerity when I hear that the powers-that-be want the Milestone characters to work, yet each attempt has ended in a creative morass. Icon and Rocket have been popular additions to Cartoon Network’s Young Justice, and there’s no reason these two wonderful characters wouldn’t impact the New DC the same way. It seems Static might be running with the Titans soon, so why not Rocket, while Icon gets some spotlight time with the Justice League?
Put them in: Justice League, Superman, Teen Titans, Ravagers
Whether it’s Garth or Jackson Hyde, Aqualad would be a great way to take advantage of the sudden popularity of Aquaman. It seemed like Hyde was set for great things following Brightest Day, yet when the reboot came along the character was thrown out with the bath water (ocean water?). Fans have been clamoring for Garth’s return since well before the reboot, add this to the characters notoriety thanks to Young Justice, it seems to be time for either character to return.
Put him in: Teen Titans, Aquaman
15. Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)
One of the aspects greatly missed from the New DC is the idea of the legacy character. The idea of Jamie Reyes is somehow lessoned without the drama of him trying to fill Ted’s shoes as Blue Beetle. This can’t be helped, as DC seems determined to make Reyes the sole bearer of the Beetle torch. Yet, the scientific adventurer and comedic heart of the JLI deserves some 52 love, even if it’s just a brief return so his death adds depth to the Reyes character. And fans haven’t seen much of Booster Gold since Justice League International got cancelled. A return of Blue and Gold would be welcome even if Blue wasn’t Blue anymore. Could Booster use a weapon-smith, maybe?
Put him in: Blue Beetle (if it wasn’t cancelled), Birds of Prey (they need weapons too, and there’s precedent), Justice League, Teen Titans
14. The Endless
Shortly before the reboot, Neil Gaiman allowed Death to be used by Paul Cornell in Action Comics. With the critical and commercial success of the former Vertigo characters in the 52, could the Endless have a place? There are many magical realms to be explored, and another pantheon would be welcome with the hype surrounding the emergence of the New Gods. Who wouldn’t want a Delirium/ Harley Quinn play date?
Put ’em in: Justice League Dark, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman
13. Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)
Worlds’ Finest has been a nice read every month, and any Bronze Age baby is going to welcome the return of Helena Wayne. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Helena Bertinelli was a welcome replacement for the suddenly out-of-continuity Helena Wayne. It’s a shame to lock up the mobster’s daughter turned hero when there is room for both in the multiverse! Earth 2 established there were other versions of Earth 1 heroes, so why not an Earth 1 version of an established Earth 2 hero? As good as Birds of Prey has been, there is something missing without their Huntress, and what a foil/running buddy for Starling she’d be!
Put her in: Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Catwoman, Worlds’ Finest
12. Chloe Sullivan
Yeah, yeah there’s some issue with the network or something, but this is my top 25 list, dammit! We make our own rules. Chloe is beloved. She was a bright spot in the sometimes mediocre world of Smallville. She was the show’s heart and a great POV character for the viewer. She would work so well in the new 52 it’s not even funny. There is a huge void left by the absence of Oracle, and Chloe would fill her avatar nicely. Imagine Gail Simone writing Chloe Sullivan in a comic book! The collective squee would shatter planets. Chloe would fill out the Superman cast wonderfully, and be a perfect counterpoint to Jimmy Olsen. (sigh) A man can dream…
Put her in: Superman, Birds of Prey, Batgirl
11. Sgt. Rock (World War II)
Having a relative of Rock in the modern DCU was a good idea, but unfortunately, it was in the quickly cancelled Men of War. But New 52 readers have not thrilled to any WWII stories past Frankenstein killing Hitler (God, I love typing that line). Sgt. Rock would be an awesome way to portray what happened in the DCU during the days of WWII. A war fought without the JSA or All-Star Squadron. Heck, who’s to say he has to be dead in the present? DC has to have something like an Infinity Formula, right?
Put him in: Suicide Squad, Team 7, Deathstroke
10. Negative Man & Elasti-Girl
We’ve had Niles Caulder, we’ve had Beast Boy, we’ve had Robotman, and it’s only a matter of time before the last two members of the Doom Patrol crop up. The fab freaks would make the New DC a more eclectic place and would be the perfect characters to tell Fringe like stories. Doom Patrol has always been ahead of the curve: They were the X-Men before the X-Men were the X-Men in the ‘60s, and they set the standard for the limitless possibilities of the super-hero tale under Grant Morrison in the ‘90s. There’s always a place for a 50-foot woman in any continuity.
Put ’em in: Ravagers, Teen Titans, Justice League Dark
Speaking of classic freaks…A modern take on archeologist-turned-freak, Rex Mason, would be most welcome in the New DC. He comes with his own built-in supporting cast of Simon Stagg, Sapphire, and Java the Caveman. He would fit nicely in any type of book or story from light adventure to horror, and is always a stunning visual. He’s ripe for an update as long as they keep his Ramona Fradon face.
Put him in: Justice League, Savage Hawkman
8. Element Woman
She was all over the New 52 promo material, even appearing in one of the earliest Justice League images. Mattel went so far as to include her in one of their “Action League” figure two-packs. So, where is she? Is her absence a result of editorial edict or are we awaiting a huge reveal? Sandman fans were especially intrigued by the prospect of her inclusion in the New 52, but she’s nowhere to be found.
Put her in: Justice League, Ravagers, Justice League Dark
7. Adam Strange
Concepts come no higher than Adam Strange. His tale of heroism, true love, and space age adventure is ageless and timeless. He’s a badass space warrior with a jet pack, laser, and hot space wife. This trifecta of awesome fits into any era of comics. It’s only a matter of time before the Zeta beam hits Earth again, but until that day, this iconic Silver Age character is greatly missed.
Put him in: Justice League, Superman, Green Lantern, Threshold
6. Miss Martian
As Martian Manhunter is being established in Stormwatch and soon to be entrenched in Justice League America, his niece, Miss Martian can only be seen on TV. The beloved green gal is one of the more popular members of TV’s Young Justice, and the internal conflict generated by her gentle nature and bestial White Martian heritage makes her a wonderfully conflicted member of any super-cast.
Put her in: Stormwatch, Teen Titans
5. The Metal Men
If this concept came along now, and was done by Pixar, it would be a license to print money; metals with personalities trying to fit into society under the watchful of creator Will Magnus. Go look at any picture of Tin. Have you ever seen something so in need of being a Happy Meal toy in your life? With all of the conflicts between the robots, the discovery of the meaning of being human, the shape-shifting, and the comedy potential, the Metal Men are ripe for a bright future just as soon as DC realizes what they are sitting on.
Put ’em in: Justice League, a multi-billion dollar animated film franchise
With constant references in Seinfeld, not many characters have a mainstream cache like Bizarro. The imperfect duplicate of Superman is needed to round out Superman’s always anemic rouges gallery. Bizarro is an a-list threat, or a sympathetic monster that has heroic and horrific potential. The antithesis of perfect deserves a modern revival!
Put him in: Superman
Another license to print money! No story was bigger than the Death of Superman, and if a fraction of the lapsed fans with fond memories pick up the beast’s return, DC has a legit hit on their hands. The major problem with Doomsday is that it is hard to craft a compelling story around a mindless beast. Scott Snyder could certainly come up with something horrific and unforgettable.
Put him in: Superman, Justice League, make it a multi-part summer crossover by Scott Snyder and Ivan Reis and it would pay everyone’s comic shop rents for a year.
2. Stephanie Brown
No comic character is more polarizing than the former Batgirl. Many fans say her book didn’t sell, so what’s the big deal? Other fans will beat you to death with a bo staff for even following that path of thought. She is loved, so loved it seems DC is terrified to revive her in case her return doesn’t meet her rabid fans’ expectations. The answer is simple, like Chloe, give her to Gail Simone and watch the squee. Stephanie has a great motivation and her very presence makes Tim Drake a better character.
Put her in: Batgirl, Birds of Prey, I’d say Teen Titans but the internet probably couldn’t take it…
1. Wally West
It has to happen. The tricky part is “how” and “why.” If you just re-introduce him as Kid Flash, it would negate his status as iconic hero, plus that role is being deftly filled by Bart. Yet, Wally’s presence as a Flash might water down Barry Allen who has been holding his own in his well-crafted title. It’s tricky, but DC has some great minds that can solve this conundrum. Flash Fact: Fans want Wally, sooner rather than later!
Put him in: Flash, Flash, and Flash!
There are countless more, and I would love to hear who you felt I may have missed. Please, no hate mail, I know I left out Donna Troy, but if you ask nicely, I might tell you what I think they have planned for her…