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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Static Thoughts - Top 12 Next CW Heroes

Edited by Robert Beach

as the new seasons of CW’s blockbuster superhero shows Arrow and Flash slowly rumble towards us, there have been a lot of casting announcement for new superheroes appearing on both shows.  Arrow will be featuring Mr. Terrific and Anarky in the upcoming season while Flash is being blessed with both Atom Smasher and the original Flash: Jay Garrick. Between all these announcements and the looming Legends of Tomorrow crossover show, it seems a good time to speculate other heroes that could stand to be added to the CW-verse.  With that in mind, here is the top 12.  

12.            WILD DOG
Most of these are going to be weird or obscure choices owing both the rights issues that plague CW’s adaptations but because those characters are just easier to make interesting on TV. It probably doesn’t get any more obscure than Wild Dog, a gun-wielding urban vigilante type character with a hockey mask and theme t-shirt for a costume.  

As Z-list as Wild Dog is, the character still has his own merits simply with how unhinged he tends to come off.  He’s a good character to bring in as a vigilante foil for Green Arrow or a street-level guy running parallel to the Flash. With Punisher waiting in the villainous wings of Daredevil’s 2nd season, now seems like a good time to beef up DC’s own gun-toting lunatic turned crime buster. 

11.            DR. MIST
Dr. Mist started life as the leader of the ‘70s group the Global Guardians but has seen mild resurgence recently in the pages of Justice League Dark. What’s great about Dr. Mist is his weird backstory makes him the perfect fit to introduce magic to the world of CW’s shows. CW has been wanting to add this for awhile now, hence them chasing a Constantine/Arrow crossover.

Dr. Mist is a master magician working for the government giving him a link to both shows already, yet he’s also part of a unique race of mystic users called the Homo Magi, a subset of humanity with the innate ability to channel mystic energy. That quasi-scientific explanation would make him a great bridging character between Flash’s science fiction and unadulterated mysticism. 

10.            ROCKET RED
Something that a lot of superhero media nowadays fails to do is extend their focus on heroes beyond the US. Arrow has done a good job with their emphasis on the island, but it’s about time we saw more non-American superheroes; Rocket Red is the perfect place to start. Both shows have already featured Ray Palmer tooling around in a techno-suit so that part is out of the way.

Rocket Red’s position as part of a government-run, meta-powers agency adds an instant layer of conflict to his character. Given Arrow’s preference for globe trotting, and the fact the Flash could literally run to Moscow in a split second, there’s no reason not to spread beyond our nation’s boundaries with these characters. 

9.            THE GREAT 10
A bit of a cheat but an important one because of just how super the Great Ten would be for these shows. Each member of the Great Ten, China’s premiere superhero team, touches on some unique aspect of superheroing: from mech suits, to magic, to alien-gene swapping.  Again, the specter of broadening national horizons looms large over this list addition, but more than that, the Great Ten are such a versatile group it’s hard to see a scenario they couldn’t be easily slotted into. Additionally, Arrow’s personal prison island in the South China sea seems like a perfect entry point for China’s greater heroes to enter into CW’s broader universe.

8.            JEMM, SON OF SATURN
As great as Martian Manhunter is, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s difficult to do well on a TV budget. Even when the character appeared on Smallville, the scope of his powers was a key problem for the show.  Jemm, son of Saturn, only has a few of Martian Manhunters abilities, but he embodies so much of his visual and personality traits. They’re both alien outcasts living among humanity, though Jemm can’t shape-shift adding a greater layer of alienation to his character that only serves to highlight his sensitivity and humanity. 

It’s been rumored that CW wants to introduce Green Lantern ever since Ferris Air and Coast City started making cameos. Aliens seem like something they’ll have to deal with sooner or later, and Jemm is a good way to do that. Plus, the character's general emphasis on psychic power over physical strength and ability make him easier to execute than Martian Manhunter, and he would be a useful tool against Grodd on The Flash.

7.            CONGORILLA
Speaking of Grodd, here’s another great foil given the now open door of talking monkeys. Congorilla is a DC adventure comics character who ended up lumped into the DCU when trends turned more superhero than pulp action. He was a human adventurer who had a magic ring that let him swap minds with a giant, golden gorilla that eventually choose to live out his life in the ape body.

Given The Flash’s jettisoning of the Gorilla City elements from Grodd’s origin, it’s dubious whether or not we’ll see additional sentient talking apes on the show. If they wanted to bring in a legitimate gorilla nemesis for Grodd, without resorting to Gorilla City and Soliver, Congorilla is a great pick. Another major plus is that Congorilla would be another means of introducing magic in a visually familiar and coherent way. 

6.            JACK KNIGHT, STARMAN
James Robinson’s Starman is one of the defining books of both his career and comics in the 1990s. Jack Knight’s Starman could add a serious degree of legacy and history to the CW universe that’s felt relatively absent aside from the excellent Trickster episode of The Flash. What’s more, Opal City has already been introduced along with talk of an Earth-2 and 7 Justice Society members planned to appear or already present in CW’s shows. Jack Knight would be a great complement to the group. He would open doors into a classic idea of the Justice Society as well as a possible future with Star Girl or even the Legion of Superheroes. 

5.            THE WARLORD
The Warlord was an obscure mid-70s DC fantasy barbarian comic. This was during the time of Marvel’s Conan and Weirdworld when it seemed like Barbarian fantasy was all the rage. The gimmick was a US airmen named Travis Morgan became trapped in a bizarre mystic land of mythic fantasy and dinosaurs called Skartaris.  The series was a cool fantasy installment and the location and characters would make for a very engaging and unique season of either Flash or Arrow. 

Morgan’s similarities to Arrow’s predicament, being marooned and forced to learn to survive, are a natural starting point. On Flash, it’s already been hinted Morgan exists, and his daughter was Harrison Wells’ fiancĂ©e.  Finally, the major prevalence of Warlord’s characters and mythos in the recent Convergence event show DC isn’t quite done with this character, so having an armored barbarian run around Central City on a T-rex seems like a logical next step in building public consciousness. 

This is a choice that could go either way as far as version is concerned. The original Shade, The Changing Man was a Steve Ditko creation for DC and was more of a straight science fantasy adventure comic; meanwhile, the Vertigo revival by Peter Mulligan was more metaphysical and character focused. The details of Shade, however, remain fairly the same. Shade is a being from a world of madness and is equipped with a vest that can turn madness and weirdness into reality. 

He’s a strange character to be sure, but his powers fit perfectly well into the basic structure of CW’s shows. CW likes episodes where the character drama is somehow reflected in the supervillain action of the moment and Shade’s basic power is literalizing internal drama. What’s more, his bizarre metaphysical realm could fill several roles for CW, both in terms of adding magic or cosmic focus to their programs.

3.            STEEL
Probably the most mainstream name on this list, Steel is a Superman supporting character from the ‘90s. He’s a black scientist saved by Superman named John Henry Irons, and Superman ended up inspiring him to build himself an Iron Man-style suit of armor made to mimic Superman visually. Steel is a great character, and his tech focus is what would make him such a strong addition. 

Flash has featured a major focus on cutting-edge technologies and the cut-throat companies who make them such as STAR Labs’ feud with Mercury Tech or the omnipresent Palmer Industries. Steel’s Iron Works could provide a great new counter to the high-stakes world of high tech in these shows. Additionally, Steel’s more recent focus on nano-technology could make for a lot of great stories and a good way to keep the Atom relevant once he starts actually shrinking.

The Challengers were a group of people who all miraculously survived a crash that should’ve killed them. In the wake of this event, they all decided to devote their lives to exploring the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything because they were living on borrowed time. The Challengers are a weird concept, one of the most enduring examples of the human adventurers that punctuated a lot of DC comics near the opening of the silver age. 

What makes them so unique is that much like The Blackhawks they adapted into the superhero era. The Challengers kept having adventures and encountering outlandish and insane supervillains like Multi-Man (a character that gains a new power whenever he died).  Much like Steel, these folks would be a great addition to a show like Flash where so much of the mythos and universe building comes from the world of high technology. 

1.            THE NEW GODS
The New Gods, living platonic forms that blend the difference between supremely powerful aliens and the purest concept of Gods are one of DC’s greatest and most versatile creations. There are dozens of ways CW could introduce the New Gods to their programs. Mr. Miracle, super escape artist, could work as a celebrity within the world of the shows; they could introduce the idea of the New Gods influencing human society Ancient Aliens style, or eve jump straight to the full on invasion.  

Also, The New Gods provide the perfect fusion of basically every major direction CW has been wanting to take their programs with ties to superhero realms of magic, space, advanced technology, and even the multiverse itself. It’s not even like the Gods of New Genesis would be that hard to render, most of their powers simply include flight and energy projections. Someone like Orion or Lightray could be achieved easily, and it’d be great to see CW bring in folks like the Black Racer or Metron. 

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