Tuesday, August 9, 2011


So yesterday, I presented a Legion of Super-Heroes that filled some of the vacuum left by the lack of the Justice Society of America. It's an unfortunate consequence of time that the characters of the JSA, and to some degree the Golden Age, cannot come along for the ride. The JSA is so tied to a particular era that stretching them to the modern age strains even the limits of comicbook credibility. Sure, sure, we have time travel and the like at hand to bring the characters themselves up to the present, but pop culture's memories of the time just before and after World War II are so dim that the grounding of the JSA crumbles.

Not every Golden Age character need meet the same fate as the JSA. The Trinity survived and stayed vital to comics, reborn in the Silver Age after the nation's fascination with crime and horror comics got Wertham'd away. Unfortunately for Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern, those early reboots fundamentally changed the characters, abandoning Jay and Alan back to the mists of history. This fate does not apply to all of the JSA, however. Some characters could easily be rebooted into the modern age - Hourman, Dr. Midnite, and Wildcat, just to name a few.

But does bringing Wildcat, for example, into the modern age really do much for the character? At his core, Wildcat is a sort of rough-and-tumble two fisted character. He gets by on his street smarts, his wits, and his iron determination. I'm not sure how successful he'd be in the modern age without some additional hook. Witness, for example, the updated Wildcat who is, uh, actually part cat. I guess that works, but mutant cat-dude feels done before. I think it would be a waste to reboot Wildcat as essentially an ensemble player, especially considering the legacy the character has.

So for the Drewniverse, lets' rebuild that legacy. Wildcat (#41/52) will actually be a title in three parts.

  • The first part, Wildcat: The Roaring '20s, details the early two fisted career of Ted Grant, boxer turned crimefighter. After he discovers that his opponent in a title bout was ordered to take a dive so that Ted could win, the young champ starts following the money, coming into conflict with the mob. When he refuses to take a dive, the mob destroys Ted's gym, killing his coach/adoptive father in the process. Ted swears revenge and starts up as a mystery man, busting heads in old-timey Gotham City. This would sorta be 'Wildcat: Year One' if you catch my drift. 
  • The second part, Codename: TOMCAT, follows the story of Ted Grant's son, Edward. Ted retired from crimefighting in order to fight Nazis at the start of World War II. He made it through the war intact and eventually settled down in Gotham with a nice nurse he met overseas. Their son, Edward, carries on his father's legacy, not by fighting crime on the rooftops of Gotham City, but by traveling the world fighting Communism in the late 60s in a James Bondian (Casanova?) manner. Edward Grant is a suave operator, a hep cat cut from the Mad Men mold. He'd deal with metahumans somewhat - nothing as brash as Superman up-up-uping and awaying, but psychics and weird science and the like.
  • The third part would take place in the modern day. Claws would detail the adventures of Rosalie Grant, Edward's daughter. Edward stayed in the game as long as he could but eventually was forced to retire, pushed out by young upstarts like Amanda Waller and that King Faraday ponce. He dedicates himself to his daughter, training her in everything he knows (think the father/son relationship from Psych here). When he goes missing, Rosalie discovers there is more to herself than she knew - she inherited a gift from her mother, a psychic ability to see ghosts! Now teamed up with her dead grampa, she must do what it takes to save her father (and maybe learn the truth of her mother in the process).

Since we're going for a legacy theme here, one trait of the Wildcat comic will be its use of interlocking, sometimes even concurrent, storylines. Experimentation encouraged. Imagine a comic where three stories are told across the same page, each a parallel of the other. Or better yet, imagine a 21 page comic divided into three parts that comes with a set of seven transparency sheets. Each sheet matches a page of each comic and contains the text of word bubbles -  the text matches up across the art of each of the three mini-stories, even if the storylines themselves are slightly different. Weird stuff like that. The idea being to tell conventional stories in unconventional ways, with a secondary goal of establishing some history to the Drewniverse.

Through the pages of Wildcat, we'll be able to get a glimpse of some of the other inhabitants of the Drewniverse. Immortals like Vandal Savage or Felix Faust could show up, while younger versions of Dinah Drake or Wesley Dodds can help flesh out the modern storylines they appear in.

One of the hardest things about a total reboot is the loss of the legacies that make DC comics unique. I know we can't cling to the past and the expense of the future, but to do the reverse seems like just as big of a mistake. Hopefully Wildcat will help provide that bridge between Then and Now that's sorely needed.

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