A real life-changer of a week this week, with confirmation that we’ll be packing up and moving to Karratha at the end of January. While I’ll be spending the majority of my time working on a series of novels (check out my new Patreon site for details, and if you’re so inclined, drop a few bucks my way to receive exclusive content on a monthly basis), I’ll also be looking to push my writing into new directions, and use the extra time our new lifestyle affords me to pursue some dreams I’ve never had the chance to pursue.
To whit: I’ve always wanted to write a comic book.
So, one of the things I’ll be doing is working up a pitch to DC Comics, using a lesser-known, and under-utilised character that is close to my heart. One of these five, in fact. I just need to work out the right storyline, and then I’ll know which one.
Five for Friday: DC Characters I Intend to Pitch
A psychotic, blind fundamentalist vampire hunter who was abused in extremis as a child and who was banished to the end of time after attempting to murder the (potential) saviour of all magic, and now must walk back to the present one step at a time. A man so cold, warped and damaged that John Constantine, John Constantine, considers him one of the cruellest and most dangerous mages in the world.
You know I want to write this.
Like many readers, I first encountered Mister E in Neil Gaiman’s The Books of Magic. But he’s been around nearly 40 years without achieving any real prominence. DC rarely strays too far from their latex and punches core. Apart from fits and bursts, the company rarely embraces horror and the supernatural with any commitment, despite having a rich gallery of characters well suited to the purpose. Mister E is at the sharper edge of that gallery, and I’d love to unleash him in a (un)fit and (im)proper fashion.
Mister E, artist unknown.
Etrigan, the Demon.
Gone! Gone! O’ form of man
Rise the demon Etrigan!
Etrigan is a rhyming demon, one of the lower castes of Hell. As part of an attempt to gain more power, he is bound for all eternity to the soul of Jason Blood, apprentice of Merlin. While Blood inhabits the Earthly plane, and Etrigan inhabits Hell, they can swap places by intoning couplets from Merlin’s gravestone. As time has passed, Blood has become more like Etrigan, and Etrigan… to paraphrase Blood, “Has also become more like Etrigan.”
Arguably Jack Kirby’s last great creation, I have loved Etrigan since I first encountered him in the late 70s. So much so, that my best friend and I were in the process of planning a pitch for a 52-issue series when the character was rebooted before our eyes in 1990. He has the potential to be one of the most complex, and memorable characters, in the DC Universe. And I badly want to write him before my career is over.
Etrigan, the Demon, artist unknown
A mentally unstable dual personality with enhanced abilities, psychologically disturbing superpowers (his laugh can cause pain, for example), and more rebooted backstories than even DC must find comfortable.
A character so unbalanced that even the act of becoming him slowly drives his alter ego/host insane, the Creeper is often played as a poor man’s Joker, but is capable of so much more than that. In a world where aliens, immortals, and mythical creatures brought to life don’t even raise an eyebrow, the Creeper is the one superhero that has the capacity to genuinely disturb.
He’s flitted around the DC Universe for 50 years, never quite getting his own series but always appearing in someone else’s series when the writers needed an off-kilter guest to upset the status quo: sometimes played for laughs, sometimes played for something darker; but never taking any storyline deep into somewhere the titular character (and by extension, the readers) couldn’t get back from with a quick press of the reset button.
I’d like to take him to a place from which it isn’t so easy to get back to normality.
The Creeper, by Justiniano
When trapeze artist Boston Brand is assassinated, his soul is co-opted by the Hindu god Rama Kushna to act as the god’s agent on Earth. Divorced from his dead body, Brand is able to possess any living body for a short time, in order to complete missions for his sponsor deity.
The character of Deadman has been around the DC Universe for 50 years, without ever being a major player. His high point is undoubtedly the early 1970s, when he was written and drawn by Neal Adams. Adams, at the height of his power, used the book to experiment with writing and artistic theories, and the books themselves became a metaphysical exercise: one issue, for example, could be folded out so that all the interior panels created a poster in the shape of Deadman’s head.
Outside of the classic Vertigo comics period– an imprint that Deadman was published under for a short time in the early 2000s– DC has never done ‘weird’ with any true gusto. Deadman could be the character around which a truly weird canon could revolve, much like Doctor Strange is for Marvel. I could get my teeth into that.
Deadman, by Alex Horley
The most recent creation on the list, Resurrection Man was created by one of my favourite comic book creator teams, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, in 1997.
Mitch Shelley dies. Regularly. Every time, he comes back to life within moments, and every time, he has a new superpower. Only problem is, there’s no way to know what power he’ll be resurrected with.
He’s been the star of a couple of short-term series, as well as making guest appearances in a number of other books– I first came across him as part of a fantastic story arc in the pages of Suicide Squad, for example. There’s enormous potential to do some very weird and wonderful stuff, and I’d love to see where I can take the obvious psychological and philosophical narratives implied within the character.
Resurrection Man, by Ivan Reis
So, there you have it. Which character intrigues you the most? Who would you like to see above a Battersby byline, and why?
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