Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.
It’s a new year and I felt like writing something positive for a change. There’s been a lot I’ve disliked about the New 52. But, for the most part, my complaints are external issues; like how DC’s editorial staff has handled themselves and steadily driven away talent, or that Superman’s costume looks awful. But the New 52 hasn’t been all bad. As a matter of fact, a lot of really great characters have been introduced to the DCnU.
Here are the ten I think are the best.
Technically, I’m cheating a bit here. Pandora was created at the end of Flashpoint. And, canonically, she actually sort of caused the New 52. She merged the three separate universes (DC, Vertigo, and WildStorm) in order to create a universe strong enough to counter a greater threat. Pandora earns her spot on the list for the mystery surrounding her. She was the first mystery of the New 52, appearing in every issue #1 and the more we learn about her (for example, she’s actually the Pandora of myth) the more intriguing she becomes.
9. First Born
He’s probably the most interesting Wonder Woman villain ever conceived. Given her pre-New 52 rogues gallery—which largely consisted of a very tall woman and a cat—that’s not exactly saying much. First Born is actually legitimately fascinating. He’s the first son of Zeus and Hera, buried deep underground so that he wouldn’t enact the ancient prophecy predicting that he would ascend to the throne of Olympus. On top of that, he killed a dragon while naked and made it into armor. He also has a hyena army. Basically, he’s pretty damn cool.
This is a twofer since they’re both side characters in Animal Man. Shepherd is a goat man who acts as a guide through The Red (the web of life that connects all fauna in the DCnU.) He refers to Animal Man as Butter Baker. I’m pretty sure he’s supposed to have a Scottish accent. He is amazing. As for Socks, he’s a very serious cat. Or rather, he’s an avatar of The Red who has taken the form of a house cat in order to protect Maxine Baker, who in turn decided that he should be referred to as Socks the Cat. Basically, Jeff Lemire is a damn genius.
7. Simon Baz
Let’s be honest, when we all first heard about the Muslim, gun-wielding Green Lantern, it was not a happy moment. It was more of a “is DC actively trying to offend people?” moment. Fortunately, Geoff Johns hadn’t gone insane and Simon Baz turned out to be a pretty cool dude. He even logically thought to himself “this ring could run out of power at any time so I should probably carry a backup weapon, just in case.” This, of course, is a thought process that has apparently never occurred to another Green Lantern, despite them all always running out of juice at the most inopportune moments. He proved to be smart, courageous, and so full of willpower that he actually healed a brain dead friend just by believing he could extra, extra hard. Not bad for a first-timer.
Imagine you just found out you had a half-brother. A half-brother with a bad attitude, a strong cockney accent, and who happens to be made out of rocks. That’s Lennox. If Guy Ritchie made a superhero, this would be it. One of the strongest aspects of New 52 Wonder Woman is the excellent supporting cast, mainly consisting of various types of gods (Olympian, Demi, and New, respectively) and Lennox is probably my favorite new addition to the family.
5. The Trench
I’ve always enjoyed it when Aquaman writers explore the weirdness of the ocean. It’s a place where it’s literally always shark week, and dolphin rape caves are totally a real thing. If there’s a superhero king swimming around down there, eventually he’s going to run into something kind of terrifying. Like Cthulhu. Or the Trench. These creepy fish dudes look like a mix between an alien, a spider monkey, and an angler fish. They attack in swarms and don’t listen to Aquaman unless he’s holding a magical undersea pimp cane. One of them is super buff for some reason. I look forward to the day when Scott Lobdell takes over Aquaman and gives them too many thought boxes.
4. The Others
Two Aquaman-related items in a row! The Others are Aquaman’s creepy high school friends from back when he was going through his awkward emo phase. They thought he was lame but he got them all magical golden artifacts from the sea, granting each of them special powers, so they hung out with him. The group consists of Aquaman (the leader), Ya’Wara (a woman who runs around the jungle in a bikini with two oddly human-looking jaguars), Prisoner-of-War (kind of an Unknown Soldier rip), the Operative (the world’s most conspicuous ninja), Vostok-X (a masked Russian cosmonaut… which is a superpower, I guess), and Kahina (a woman who could predict the future but was pretty bad at it, honestly). Even though two of them are now dead, I would love to see more of their adventures.
In spite of being created by Scott Lobdell and being in a horrible book written by Scott Lobdell, Bunker is a good character. Well, he’s okay. But he represents a massive step in the right direction by DC. See, Bunker is gay. And a minority. And he isn’t a legacy character. He has a functional power (he creates constructs similar to a Green Lantern, except they’re purple) and his sexuality isn’t used as a crutch to prop up flimsy storytelling. If there were more characters like Bunker, I’d be thrilled.
2. Harper Row
“The girl who would be Robin.” Let’s be honest: we all assumed Harper would be the next Robin. Hell, some of us still think she will be. Honestly, I really hope she isn’t. She’s a wonderful character, but I just think she’d be diminished in the role. Right now, Harper Row is a brave, young Gothamite who’s inspired to do good because of Batman’s never-ending war on crime. Batman should inspire people. That’s absolutely a story worth telling.
1. The Court of Owls
While I think the concept behind the Court is a bit weak (“a powerful enemy… who’s been around this whole time… yet you’ve never heard of them, Batman… in spite of studying every inch of this city…”) the execution has been utterly fantastic. Scott Snyder crafted a new classic storyline when he introduced the Court of Owls, a murderous criminal cabal secretly controlling all of Gotham city since it was first built. They’re both a physical threat for the Dark Knight (the Talons) as well as a psychological threat (the Court itself). In fact, the only major weakness of the Court is that one of its most important members was Lincoln March, aka Owl Man, aka Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce’s long lost brother. Not only does this seem like kind of retread of Batman: RIP, it just seems odd that no mention has been made, thus far, that another version of Owlman/TWJr has crossed over from Earth 3 in Forever Evil. That just seems like a serious lack of editorial communication. Still, the Court of Owls is easily one of the coolest villain groups to surface in years.
Hopefully DC will continue to expand its roster of awesome new characters this year. If I missed any of your favorites, let me know!