Author: Will Shetterly

If I rebooted Flash, Atom, and Green Arrow

On the list of simple comic book truths: Superhero comics need major female superheroes. I like the idea that the Flash should be a woman. A speedster called Jesse Quick briefly took over the role:


It’d be great if The Fastest Man On Earth was a woman, but DC is conservative with the characters it considers its most valuable properties, so I doubt they would go with a female Flash, even though that’s the best way to get a second woman into DC’s Big Five of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash.

That argument doesn’t apply to the Atom and Green Arrow.


If I rebooted the Justice League: Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkwoman, Martian Manhunter

If I rebooted the Justice League: Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkwoman, Martian Manhunter

According to a friend I trust, when the trailers for the Green Lantern movie appeared, kids asked, “Why did they make Green Lantern a white guy?”

That’s not a joke like “Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?” It’s because, to folks under thirty, this is the Justice League:

But this is DC’s reboot:

How many ways is it awful? The short list:
  1. Instead of being a team of individuals, they look like they go to the same tailor.
  2. Aquaman is one of my favorite characters, but he shouldn’t be part of the core League. He should only appear when a case involves the seas.
  3. Cyborg is great in the Titans, but he doesn’t have a distinct role in the League unless they turn him into a brilliant scientist. Also, his name is generic—it’s like calling a character Robot. Give him back to the Titans.
  4. One woman? Are you kidding me? Humanity is 51% female, and there’s one woman in the core team?
So, what would my reboot look like?
  1. GMiss Martian photoreen Lantern is John Stewart, a black man who is the one and only Green Lantern of Earth. In the reboot, he’s the guy that Katma Tui (instead of Abin Sur to make it clear that the ring can go to anyone who is worthy) chose to wield the ring.
  2. The Flash, in something like the iconic uniform, is Ricky Estrada, a Mexican-American man with the personality of Wally West.
  3. Hawkwoman is Shayera Hol, a Thanagarian cop who comes to Earth in pursuit of an alien crook. Her partner, Katar Hol, is killed, and their ship is destroyed, so she stays on Earth for longer than was planned, and comes to love the planet.
  4. The Martian Manhunter always seemed goofy to me: a green version of Superman who can change shape and gets weak in the presence of fire? Use Miss Martian instead.
  5. The Wonder Woman from my previous “If I rebooted…” post.
  6. The Batman from my previous “If I rebooted…” post.
  7. The Superman from my previous “If I rebooted…” post.
A fundamental principle should apply to characters like Green Lantern and Hawkwoman: Heroes should be unique—unless someone offers a lot of money to make a movie or TV show about a variant like Supergirl or Batgirl.
If I rebooted Wonder Woman

If I rebooted Wonder Woman

This is the Wonder Woman I would choose:

She’s from Legends of the DCU: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. The designer solved a problem that’s defeated every other attempt to fix her costume: he turned the eagle symbol into something that both holds up her costume and suggests armor.

I dunno who suggested that costume, but I suspect the writer, Marv Wolfman, suggested she look Middle-Eastern. It makes sense. In classical literature, the island of the Amazons has been located in Libya and Asia Minor.

While I like the skirt, I would be tempted to give her pants. And there’s something to be said for a longer skirt like the one she first wore:


There was an excellent analysis of Wonder Woman, “Wonder Woman, Delineated” at Fractal Hall, a site that’s no longer on the web. The writer proposed:

So, what makes her work?

A) Truth. Truth truth truth truth truth.
B) The hunt.
C) Magical gadgets
D) Super-strong, super-fast.

Factor A is more subtext than explicit, but I think it’s fair to say that any Wonder Woman story has to have a theme of honesty or a counter-theme of dishonesty to it.

Part of what I admired about the Fractal Hall analyses of superheroes was the way they began with the essential differences in genres: Superman is a science fiction character, Wonder Woman is a fantasy character, and the Batman is what they called a crime character, but I would call a mystery character. The worlds of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are so different that they should only meet when the Justice League gathers.

Will Shetterly is the creator of [[[Captain Confederacy]]], the author of [[[Dogland]]], and the co-creator of [[[Liavek]]] with his wife, Emma Bull.

If I rebooted Batman and Robin

If I rebooted Batman and Robin

This is a light modification of a panel in  Legends of the DCU: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. I could go either way on making Batman’s costume black and gray or blue and gray, but for a creature of the night, the yellow belt made no sense, and the panties were just too 1940s.

My Batman’s personality is inspired by the 1960s “New Look” Batman: he’s a detective who has mostly made peace with the fact that he can’t bring his parents back from the dead. He doesn’t like putting Robin in danger, so Robin is a supporting character, someone who goes undercover in places where Batman can’t and who usually has adventures on his own or with the Titans. Their styles are so different that they shouldn’t team up often: Batman’s inspiration is the creature of the night; Robin’s inspiration is the people’s hero, Robin Hood. The only reason Batman trains Robin is because he realizes that the kid will fight crime no matter what Batman does, so he might as well do what he can as mentor and friend.

The Bruce Wayne playboy is not a “cover”. Batman thinks of himself as a soldier or a spy who works hard and parties hard. He knows he needs R&R to keep doing his duty, and he wants fun that won’t result in anyone becoming too fond of him. He’s an adrenaline junkie, and sometimes, late at night, he wonders if he has a bit of a death wish. If so, so long as it helps him do his job, he’s fine with that.

The capes can become rigid and serve as gliders. Otherwise, why are acrobats wearing capes? Other than they look cool? Which, I grant, in a comic book is never automatically the wrong answer. The trick to making the original Robin cape work is to use the collar. George Perez understood that.

But I would be tempted to make Robin’s cape green.

As for the Batmobile, its time has passed. Batman and Robin should patrol from a Batplane that can hover in place.

Will Shetterly is the creator of [[[Captain Confederacy]]], the author of [[[Dogland]]], and the co-creator of [[[Liavek]]] with his wife, Emma Bull.

Dear DC, Please Keep Captain Marvel Black!

Dear DC,

You’re rebooting your universe, and I approve. Comic books should be rebooted every decade to keep them vital. Having a younger Superman who was never married makes sense. I only have one plea: please, keep Captain Marvel black.

I’m old enough to remember the early ‘70s when DC had the best female superheroes, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl, and Marvel had the best black superheroes, the Black Panther, the Falcon, and Luke Cage.

But everything changed in 1973 when DC expanded its universe with characters that had been published by other companies. Justice League #107 introduced the Quality Comics superheroes. Here’s that groundbreaking cover:


With one stroke, DC accomplished two things. One was obvious: it leapt ahead of Marvel on diversity, creating four African-American heroes, a Mexican-American Black Condor and a Japanese-American Human Bomb (which seems simplistic now, but was a daring commentary on nuclear weapons then).