The Geoff Johns-instigated Rebirth movement has swept through DC Comics, reintroducing fans to the classic, hope-filled story telling of the DC of old. As readers meet new versions of classic characters and get reacquainted with old favorites, the absent heroes are beginning to stick out. While we know there’s hope for the Legion of Superheroes, Watchmen and Batman family members like Azrael, where are perennial favorites like Conner Kent, the Spectre and Booster Gold?
While the New 52 won’t soon be forgotten, we can look forward to either forgetting some of the horrible interpretations it produced, or fold in what worked, like the entirety of Scott Snyder’s Batman run. Incorporating all of this canon into a coherent, plausible story that makes new connections to support the old is the heart of DC’s Rebirth, but with over 75 years of history to pull from it can be hard to narrow down where to start. In that spirit here are the 15 DC Heroes Most Deserving of a Rebirth:
15. Mr. Terrific
Long associated with the JSA, the original Mr. Terrific was a hyper-intelligent Olympian named Terry Sloane. Years after the character had faded from relevance, DC would resurrect the name when the Spectre convinced another gifted man to take up the mantle. Multiple doctorate-holding Michael Holt was suicidal after the loss of his wife and daughter, until The Spectre intervened and gave him a new purpose. Using his extreme intelligence to create technology that could make him a superhero, Holt became Mr. Terrific.
After a failed solo New 52 comic, Mr. Terrific appeared in the recently canceled Earth 2. The character has shown enough life on the small screen to warrant a revitalization within the pages of DC’s Rebirth. Introduced to the Arrowverse as Curtis Holt, the CW incarnation of the character is a fine model for how the Earth 1 Mr. Terrific could become a mainstay of the new DCU. There is no reason to involve the Spectre this time around, and we can even model his costume on the much prefered Bruce Timm design from Justice League Unlimited. “Fair play” on the jacket sleeves would never work in a post-Instagram world.
When Batman wasn’t on good terms with the Justice League he turned to a different group of super acquaintances. The Outsiders were a team of heroes that had either not received or outright refused an invitation to the pro leagues. Multiple iterations of the team would exist, but generally a member of the Batman Family is in charge while the unit operates as black ops for missions the League (or at one point Checkmate) can’t touch publicly. The team’s lineup has varied from unknowns to being an almost entire bat-roster, but the core has always been morally-grey heroes and trying-to-reform villains.
With Suicide Squad experiencing a zeitgeist in its pop-culture existence, DC is in a prime position to create a book about where their reformed villains go when they want to make amends. “Outsiders: Rebirth” would be a unique opportunity for a team to be established as the anti-Suicide Squad. A partnership between a former cop and a police commissioner’s daughter seems to be the right balance to co-lead a team of reformed supervillains and B-level heroes. Nightwing and Batgirl should oversee the team that one would hope to see include former Outsiders Katana, Metamorpho, and Black Lightning, but also neutral former antagonists like Poison Ivy, Two-Face, and Captain Cold. A new Outsiders could be a halfway house for villains that want to change. Help them change, DC!
13. Conner Kent
The original Superboy was a teenage Clark Kent, but post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, the mantle has pretty much been held by Conner Kent. The Rebirth era has a new Superboy in Jon Kent, the son of pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois Lane. While we are delighted with his adventures so far, a small hurt still pangs for the Superboy that was lost to us when Conner Kent died. Kon-el was introduced as Superboy after the “Death of Superman” arc, but came to be beloved in the hands of Peter David and Geoff John’s in Young Justice and Teen Titans respectively.
On the other side of the abandoned super-spectrum is The Matrix, a protoplasmic-shapeshifting creation that was initially programmed to be a Lana-Lang-look-a-like Supergirl for Lex Luthor. The Matrix would go on to bond with a young woman named Linda Danvers imbuing her with the powers. Eventually, the Matrix would be pulled into battles between Heaven and Hell with Linda caught in the middle. The Matrix hasn’t been seen for a while, but it ended up in heaven – same place Conner Kent is currently hanging his hat.
Not without glitches, the merging of Conner Kent and the Matrix would allow stories where two personalities will try to coexist. Editors could consider a book featuring the pair living out their days in a split-personality, gender-confused state that has to continue for Conner & Mae to remain connected to the Earthly plane. This will probably never happen.
While we all may want to overlook the mild cinematic locomotive collision that was Shaq’s portrayal of the titular character, Steel was a welcome and needed character in the DC universe. His reintroduction in the New 52 fell far short of the mark of what fans of the character had hoped for. Steel’s design, inspired by the John Henry legend, was classic in every sense. The New 52 version looked like a bad Iron Giant cosplayer.
We would love to see the fully formed uncle and hero that John Henry had become return to the DCU. Someone who wanted to do good without the suit, but would ultimately always get pulled back into it, Steel was the working man’s hero in the Super-family. The existing John Henry hasn’t been such a far start from the original that a great creative team couldn’t turn it around like Jimmy Palmiotti did with Batwing, but maybe it’s time the pre-Flashpoint Superman reconnected with his old partner and remind him what it means to wear the S.
11. Booster Gold
In an era of comics that began with the controversy of Flashpoint “permanently” changing DC’s timeline, no one should be center stage more than time traveling hero Booster Gold. So where is he? That’s what Booster fans have been asking as he was one of the few characters aware of time-related crises. Warned to not let Superman and Wonder Woman kiss, the hero fails and disappears into the timestream. There’s probably little to no chance DC doesn’t have some form of plan for Booster Gold in the post-Rebirth age. I just hope it’s what fans have been hoping for since we learned the secret to his relationship with his mentor Rip Hunter.
When Booster Gold returns it would be interesting if we caught up to him after having had a son. That son’s name would one day be Rip, but for now, let him be “Baby Gold”. Readers would love to see the Adventures of Booster and Baby Gold, right? Explain that Booster has disappeared from the timeline because every version of himself is raising his mentor/son at different periods in his life to prepare him to train himself. It’s 3 Boosters And A Baby. That’s gold.
10. Plastic Man and Red Tornado
While often derided for not being a serious hero, Plastic Man has proven time and again his value as a Justice Leaguer and dose of comedic relief in sometimes soap operatic pieces. There wasn’t a huge place for him in the New 52, but perhaps there’s hope in seeing the jolly Eel O’Brien get a Rebirth soon. A similarly beloved character that didn’t really hit the mark in the New 52 was Red Tornado. While the android’s humanity was central to the character, it was his pragmatism that made him endearing.
Plastic Man is a reformed criminal and could easily be DC’s answer to the Paul Rudd-fuelled resurgence of Ant-Man. His malleability and perfect impressions make Plastic Man the con-artist hero that knows how to take down the underworld from the inside. Saddle him with a superhero baby sitter that is supposed to monitor him, but keeps getting pulled into the cons – like Red Tornado. The deadpan Red Tornado and tornado of a human being that is Plastic Man would provide perfect comedic symmetry in their adventuring.
The name Manhunter has been passed around by countless writers in the DC bullpen in hopes an iteration might stick. The one fans would most want to see reborn into continuity would be Kate Spencer; a district attorney that got tired of seeing super criminals not be held accountable. Kate upgrades her arsenal with the tech she secures during the arrest of supervillains. Kate also has a son named Ramsey that is aware of her superheroics. Giving the DC Universe another opportunity to see a working female mother lead in a comic isn’t the worst way to approach the character.
We would love to see Kate’s first case back be a Midnight Run-style adventure where she has to transfer Heat Wave across the country to face charges. En route the Rogues should attack, but this time not to free their former accomplice, but to kill him for robbing the Rogues to pay for a solo heist. Turns out the heist was to take down an even bigger super criminal, so the DA offers the Rogues one time immunity and they team up to take down some larger criminal conspiracy. Kate has the opportunity to be DC’s Daredevil. If they just root her in a reality that makes everyone around her seem heightened it will work.
8. Power Girl
Superman’s cousin from Earth 2 deserves her own return to stardom, though the version we get doesn’t have to be from Earth 2. Since much of Power Girl’s origin is essentially Supergirl’s origin, let another version of the character from the Multiverse join the ranks of the DCU. After the events of Harley Quinn and Power Girl, that version of Karen Starr could get retconned into the post-Rebirth reality.
Fans of the character are rooting for Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner to continue working on the character and trust they could give a new Power Girl a satisfying origin in line with the character’s history, while charting a future. We just hope to see the character return with her traditionally known and cosplayed costume. While her uniform always stirs controversy, even fashion icon Tim Gunn can get behind the boob window. The Project Runway star said this of the fashion icon’s wardrobe, “It just seems that she owns these. I believe this. I believe her. I believe this is who she is.”
7. Hawk & Dove
Hawk and Dove were originally Hank and Don Hall, brothers chosen by the Lords of Chaos and Order to be their avatars in the world. Don died, being replaced by Dawn Granger. Hank has since turned into not one, not two, but three villains. He was revealed to be the Monarch for the Armageddon 2001 event, returned as Extant in Zero Hour, and then was resurrected as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night. We’re fairly over Hank Hall at this point and while we want to see Dawn continue on as Dove, the rule is three strikes and you’re out. In this case, we’re fine with both Dawn and Hank being relieved of their duties.
So who should receive the titles of Hawk and Dove from T’Charr, Lord of Chaos, and Terataya, Lord of Order, respectively? Sam Humphries is doing a pretty good job bringing dynamic opposing protagonists on Green Lanterns with Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, let him take the reigns of a new Hawk and Dove of his own design on watch the ideas flow. As long as the two characters maintain the one hot-headed and the other pragmatic relationship that defines the characters you’re on the way to a winner.
When last we saw Jim Corrigan, the original host for the Spirit of Vengeance that is the Spectre, he was a burnt out homicide detective researching paranormal cases in the GCPD. We look forward to Corrigan haunting someone into investigating his own disappearance as the Spectre. But while he aimlessly searches for who he was, no one is dying. People are surviving actual death experiences and Corrigan has to stop searching for his own supernatural killer to figure out who killed death.
Hard boiled police thriller and supernatural suspense horror could all combine to bring the spectre back to the basics of investigating murders, but have him be the private dick of the supernatural world. Seeing the Spectre become the avenger of angels, and hunter of demons is a natural fit for the character. With the current state of the world, maybe The Spectre should even look into conspiracies about the end of times, he seems like the only character biblical enough to do it.
Throughout the character’s 50 year history, Zatanna has seen her backstory change several times. While some of these changes would intertwine her origins with Batman, other changes like Brad Meltzer’s decision to have her mind wipe criminals during her time with the Justice League in the ‘70’s always seemed at odds with the character’s previous personality. Much like Hal Jordan’s turn to villainy was explained by Parallax, some type of magical possession could help consolidate all of the disparate version of the character.
A supernatural entity possessing Zatanna would be an appropriate re-introduction to a character that people seem to adore for her incarnations, but haven’t historically supported in her solo efforts. The graphic novel “Bloodspell” recounts interactions between Black Canary and Zatanna throughout the years, going as far back as when they were teenagers. Building from those connections, have Zatanna turn to the Birds of Prey for help and utilize the team environment to reintroduce us to a character many love, especially Paul Dini.
4. Challengers of the Unknown
There’s a large multiverse out there and it appears Doctor Manhattan could have been manipulating all of them to his own ends. How on multiple earths can we figure out and fix what he changed? Enter the new Challengers of the Unknown. The original Challengers were scientists that joined together to face extreme obstacles in understanding the mysteries of the universe. In the new era, a team of scientist and heroes should come together, but a modern take should account for the economies of the multiverse.
Three of the largest corporations in the DC universe are Luthor Corp., Wayne Tech, and Kord Industries. Have each faction put someone on the team. The storylines could include a “transformative” arc for a character like Hank Henshaw, larger exposure for Batwing Luke Fox, and include experienced dimension hopper Caitlin Fairchild. hopefully reintroduce the more media friendly version of Cisco Ramone to the DCU proper. In fact, you can have the book crossover with the show by having Vibe think he’s stranded in a 2-Dimensional world. Bring back a few of the original Challengers as a team of scientists from rival organizations like STAR Labs, Cadmus and the DEO to give us a multicultural and multidimensional journey into the Unknown.
3. Connor Hawke and Arrowette
It’s hard to imagine the current iteration of Green Arrow as a father, as the Arrow based version currently in pages is just now meeting Black Canary. But, just as he was unaware of his son pre-Flashpoint, it’s easy to see why this would be the perfect time to drop fatherhood on him. While it would change things quite a bit, all of the pieces are there to both bring back his son and acknowledge a character that could have been his daughter. Tie Cissie King’s Arrowette closer to the Green Arrow mythos by having her and Connor both be children from an abandoned relationship with an Olympic archer.
Thanks to Rebirth, editors can retcon Ollie’s history to be that his kids were split up with Connor being raised by monks and Cissie being raised by her mother. Have them both return to Oliver’s life now forcing Queen to be a single parent of two exceptional archers. Connor and Cissie could be at similar ages to Jon Kent’s Superboy and Damien Wayne’s Robin. Having a counterbalance to Robin’s League of Assassin Training with Connor studying in an order that directly opposes them would certainly make for an interesting dynamic between the two sons. This would also reintroduce Green Arrow to the new DC fatherhood status quo, of which he was one of the first members.
2. The Question
In the new 52 continuity there were a lot of Questions running around, and very few answers to go with them. Renee Montoya, a beloved incarnation of the character that started as the guise of Vic Sage, is currently the partner to Harvey Bullock in Gotham City. Vic Sage was turned into an antagonist in the pages of the New 52’s Suicide Squad, but what about the 3rd unidentified question from the Trinity of Sin. He was from another time and cursed to be blind and mute. Who was that guy?
We know that Watchmen is being integrated into the DC continuity, could it be possible that the amnesiac Question is Rorschach? In our fandom’s deepest heart our hope would be for Detective Montoya to encounter the Question in dire straits in Gotham and take up the investigation to determine who he is. Thus leading to the mantle of The Question being open once his identity is reclaimed; leaving Renee Montoya to become her sleuthing superhero self once again.
1. Young Justice
In the late-’90’s the teen superhero trend was at a zenith when Superboy, Robin and Impulse would accidentally form the team Young Justice. After an introductory one-shot, the sidekicks fully came together when Wonder Girl and Arrowette joined the social groups roster. YJ’s adventures served as an introduction for DC’s teen readers to everything from classic character Red Tornado to the Forever People through the team’s pet Super-cycle. The book eventually morphed into Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans where we further fell in love with the characters.
Across the board the members of the Young Justice squad are either missing from continuity or vastly different than their pre-Flashpoint counterpart. Bringing back Tim Drake is clearly something at play in the larger DC Rebirth, but the entire generation of forgotten sidekicks needs to be brought back to bring more hope back to the DCU. The upcoming 3rd season of the animated Young Justice will give the DC editorial department plenty of guidance on who could be included in the roster this go round.
Which character do you most want to see get a DC Rebirth? Let us know in the comments!