Monday, April 19, 2010

Brighter-est Day

Last week DC’s 26-issue bi-weekly Brightest Day series kicked off, and I for one am definitely hooked by the promise of what’s to come and psyched to see some characters I really dig—I’m a huge Martian Manhunter mark and have a soft spot for Captain Boomerang—and others who have some real promise—in regards to the new Deadman status quo, in the words of my friend Sean T. Collins, “sure, I’ll eat it”—get up to some action and adventure while we get a further exploration of the ever-expanding mythology that kicked into high gear during Blackest Night.

And of course at the center of it all is the dozen resurrected folks all the mysteries are swirling around.

Now, far be it from me to critique the likes of Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi (whom I once, in his presence, referred to as “the Alan Moore of editors” for his fine work on the superlative Light Brigade series and also because Steve Wacker was in the room and I wanted to make him feel bad), but I daresay there are a few other DC characters I think could have been neat to bring back via Brightest Day.

Of course I’m not saying my picks would necessarily and without question enhance a story I think is already off to a dope start—I trust Geoff and Pete a great deal in their choices and dig that they didn’t go the easy route of bringing back somebody like Blue Beetle who had such a significant send-off—but I’ll go ahead and put my money where my mouth is (no actual money will be put anywhere)…

Superman’s adoptive old man had a pretty memorable send-off a couple years back at the hands of Brainiac, but I gotta be honest, events have been so fast and furious in the time since that I think Pa Kent’s demise got the short shrift. I think there’s something to be said for taking a mulligan on this one and resetting the status quo, but not exactly as it was before.

One of the knocks against Superman has always been that he has so few weaknesses, but giving him back the father he lost with the full knowledge he could lose him again at any time certainly adds a new element of vulnerability to the Man of Steel. And what’s it like for Martha Kent to have her husband back after making peace with his passing? Despite their super son and his own resurrection, the Kents are salt-of-the-earth folks who I have to think figure “dead means dead” particularly for the ordinary likes of them.

And then of course there’s Jonathan himself; people like Hawkman and Jade at least have enough experience with the bizarre and extraordinary that coming back from the dead may be just another day at the office to some degree, but Pa’s just a farmer who had his ticket punched and now against all he likely believes in, he’s back—what’s that like? I think there’s merit to the dozen characters brought back to all be super-powered heroes and villains, but if you’re going to include a supporting character, this is the guy I’d go with.

End of the day, you’re going to get one of two outcomes I think have potential: Superman has to say goodbye to his dad once more and this time it can really pack an emotional wallop, or Pa Kent is back but with a new outlook on mortality that adds dimension to a tenured character.

I’ve spoken before about how highly I regard the Underworld Unleashed story by Mark Waid and Howard Porter, and in particular the handling of The Trickster who outwitted the devil and came out the unlikeliest of heroes. Unfortunately he never really found his niche in the DC Universe after that and ended up lapsing back into villainy before kinda going out like a chump.

I’d love to see James Jesse brought back with a new lease on life and become something of a wildcard who could go either way down the path to either good or evil. The battle for the soul of The Trickster is a story that could get some solid mileage either in the pages of Brightest Day, the new Flash book or elsewhere. Obviously the Rogues would want Jesse back, but they’re the guys who let him die. Wally West was a guy who always believed I the reformed Trickster and trying to get him to stick on the straight and narrow could give that particular Flash something to do while his kids are in daycare.

And how does Neron figure in? This is, after all, the mere mortal who ruined his plans not once but twice. And hey, who’s to say The Trickster didn’t end up under Neron’s dominion during his time among the dead and now he found a way to escape? Now there’s a story to be told. How desperate would Jesse be not to go back?

Personally I’d love to see The Trickster’s tale end with him as a shades of grey type hero who you can’t quite trust, but regardless of the destination, the journey has loads of potential.

The New Gods are off the table at the moment and as “dead” as gods can be; I’m sure there are long-term plans in place for the characters, but assuming Grant Morrison or whomever will be shepherding that saga can spare one, I’d be very interested to see what happens to one New God, alone on a world where his race is basically extinct.

To expand on that, I’ve always wanted to see one of the Forever People on their own given how tied to the concept of being a group and depending on one another they’ve always been. Since Vykin is the most introverted and yet curious of the crew, he’d be my pick to be the “wandering New God.” How does a god cope with death and resurrection? Does he become a hero? Does he become a figure of worship? Who tries to exploit him? Who tries to help the stranger in a strange land?

I’d like to find out.

One of my less-inspired picks, admittedly, but there’s a dearth of good Superman villains as well as good female villains in general when it comes to DC, and Maxima was one I always had affection for. Her modus operandi was a unique one and her semi-failed tenure with the Justice League gives her far more depth than your typical cackling would-be-world conqueror.

With Maxima, I’m not so much looking at the short-term returns on the part she could play in Brightest Day, but rather the long view on what a great foil she could be for Supes or maybe Wonder Woman or even the JLA.

With Vykin, you’ve got the guy away from his people and home, but with Karate Kid, you’ve got the always cool “man out of time” routine. Additionally, I don’t think we ever got the full scoop of how exactly Val Armorr got over his first death—if it still happened in our continuity—so he’s already got a unique relationship with mortality.

Honestly though, Karate Kid is just awesome and should be on the Justice League.


Zach said...

Vykin is alive. That's who the young Monitor from Final Crisis was revealed to be. And the New Gods aren't dead, they're on a different Earth in the multiverse

Meg said...

What?! You're telling me of the 800 New Gods I could have picked for this column I picked the *one* who is definitively still around?

Ben Morse said...

Also, I posted that under my wife's ID by accident.

Frank said...

I miss Pa Kent, too, but I think back to Adventures of Superman #500, where Pa died and came back. I know that story's nearly (OMG) 20 years old, but we've been there before. At the same time, I want Pa Kent back and agree with you.

Ben Morse said...

I don't so much miss Pa Kent as I don't feel proper mileage was gotten out of his death and it's worth a re-do.

I dug Adventures of Superman #500 too!

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