Friday, June 10, 2016

Top 5 Fridays - Top 5 Re-Purposed DC Comics Pitches

So, you've got a great idea for a new DC Comics character... or maybe it's a new take on an old property... that's great news!  The only problem is, DC ain't interested... or maybe they're on the fence and give you a few months before giving the thumbs down... or just maybe you put got a great idea for a pitch, and DC just couldn't get the rights.  

Not to be deterred you decide to take your pitch elsewhere... maybe you can sell it to another publishing house, or perhaps explore the creator-owned rout.  Either way, your creation went on to find a life outside the source-wall that surrounds the DC Universe... and just maybe it took some of that "source material" influence with it for the ride... either wholesale or with some cosmetic tweaks.  What follows is my Top 5 re-purposed DC pitches/characters (in no particular order).

5. Planet of the Apes
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat... as neither Carmine Infantino nor Jack Kirby created Planet of the Apes.  It's still pretty interesting though.   Mr. Infantino did express a great amount of interest in publishing comics based on this property for DC.  When the brass failed to procure the license to do so (losing a bidding war with Marvel), he turned to legendary creator Jack Kirby to create a series similar in concept to Planet of the Apes.

Jack had worked on a story that was similar to Planet of the Apes... and which was actually published before the first Apes novel, so clearly Kirby was the best fit for the gig.

The King went into his archives and dug up a series of strips he'd worked on in 1958... called Kamandi of the Caves.  After reworking that into a series, what we were left with was, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.  Jack even gave a nod to some of the Apes film's imagery with the Statue of Liberty on the cover of the first issue.

4. Void Indigo
During the early 1980's Howard the Duck creators, Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik pitched a revamped Hawkman to the DC brass... they ultimately passed.  It's unknown just how in depth the pitch was, but judging by the story it morphed into it's easy to see why they gave it the ol' thumbs-down.  Void Indigo was the resulting title, and it was published by Marvel Comics under the creator-owned Epic Comics imprint.  

Initially commissioned as a standalone graphic novel to be followed by a six-issue series, Void was cancelled after only two... due to poor reception to it's "extreme depictions of violence".  In the comics press it was referred to as a "crime against humanity", which likely didn't help it find an audience.  Having stumbled upon this title during the 1990's, I can honestly say it feels quite tame in comparison to much of the extreme comics offerings of the day... Though, we gotta keep in mind that this would have been a pre-Crisis Hawkman title, and would certainly not have fit on the racks next to a Curt Swan Superman book.

3. Fallen Angel
This one's a toughie... as most of the connections involved in this one are only implied "on the record".  Back around the turn of the century, Peter David was writing a(n excellent) Supergirl title featuring Linda Lee Danvers... a literal Fallen Angel.  This title needed to be shuffled off to make room for the returning Kara Zor-El.  Kara had just made her big post-Crisis return in the pages of Superman/Batman, and it was clear that she was going to be DC's Supergirl going forward.

Following the cancellation of his Supergirl, he transistioned into a series called Fallen Angel, which starred a young woman named Lee (hmm...) working out of the city of Bete Noire.  There were plenty of hints scattered throughout that Lee was in fact Linda (Lee), and Peter David seemed to enjoy playing along... even going as far as to announce that issues #14 and 15 would be intriguing to fans of his Supergirl.

The title sadly never found an audience, and would only last 20 issues before being cancelled.  Peter David retained all rights to the character, and brought her with him to IDW Publishing where he continued documenting her exploits.  DC closed the book on all the speculation in 2008, when they gave Linda a part in the Reign in Hell miniseries... but....

... when asked about the connection in an interview with Comic Book Resources some years back, David responded with:
"Can I say this is Linda Danvers?  Of course I can't.  However, it's pretty freaking obvious that it is."

2. Nightcrawler
Before debuting in Giant-Size X-Men #1, the German mutant we all know and love was set to debut as a member of the Outsiders (not those Outsiders...), a team whose tales would spin out of the Legion of Super Heroes title.

In the X-Men 30th Anniversary Magazine published back in 1993, Nightcrawler creator Dave Cockrum pitched the character to editor Murray Boltinoff, only to have his creation rejected for being "too funny looking"... yup, good call Murray... there's certainly no odd looking Legionnaires out there!

1. Shaft
Before creating Cable and Deadpool... and doing the whole Image Comics thing, Rob Liefeld worked on some DC properties including a Hawk & Dove miniseries.  One of his favorite DC properties was the Teen Titans (he was even part of a Titans fan-writers association called TTalk).  This led to Rob putting together a pitch for his own Titans series (which just may have been called... Titans Force... no joke).

This was set to be a team run by Speedy/Arsenal... who would be viewed as celebrities... and work under the government... just like another team Rob would create... Youngblood.

In an interview with Newsarama, Rob gave the goods: "Shaft was intended to be Speedy, Vogue was a new Harlequin (Joker's Daughter) design, Combat was a Kh'undian warrior circa the Legion of Super Heroes, ditto for Photon and Die Hard was a S.T.A.R. Labs android."

It's fun to consider how the comics landscape may have been affected had DC utilized the characters in the above pitches, in the way they were intended to be used.  I suppose it all works out in the wash, however, had DC given Liefeld that Titans Force book... we would have been robbed of having the opportunity of buying Rob's fully-poseable 7" Shaft... and let's face it, there's no fate worse than that!

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