Comics

Why All The White Guys, DC? The Hip Version For Teenz

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Part Three of an ongoing look at DC Comics’s upcoming television shows — and how they could be improved upon.

It’s an honest question. You’ve got such a wealth of intellectual property that I can make a series of these posts just cherry-picking the obvious non-white guy characters. C’mon, why all the white guys, DC?

Today we’ll be strolling through DC’s collection of teenage heroes both because DC boasts a huge stable of them, and also because the various “youth” demographics are often seen as the golden audience for many film and TV genres. As much as we’d all love for the overriding concern of DC/Warner Bros to be representation and storytelling, they are ultimately a business and businesses exist to make money. So this batch of pitches is aimed at less pie-in-the-sky ideas, but still with the same focus on women and POC characters.

Hey Guys, You Wanna Rip Off Buffy?

You’re in TV, of course you do. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a cult classic that was also solid enough ratings-wise to run for seven seasons. With the recent glut of TV drama focusing on the supernatural or paranormal, it might just be time to make a Buffy of your very own.

Who would be the star? Raven, a half-demon with a broad range of innate magical powers who is wrapped up in a prophecy of world-destroying proportions. She’s most commonly known as a member of the Teen Titans, DC’s premiere group of younger heroes. Outside of this, Raven has attended high school under the name Rachel Roth. One notable mini-series by her creator Marv Wolfman provides an effective blueprint for the entire show, with Raven trying to live the normal life she never could before but drawn into a supernatural conflict regardless.

Wanna know another cult classic show starring a female character you can rip off with Raven? No, it’s not That’s So Raven, smartypants. It’s Daria, actually. Raven was already part of the successful animated Teen Titans show, where she was the team’s deadpan snarker and bookish recluse. Writing the character with this in mind rather than emphasizing her angst or inhuman nature could help assuage the large fanbase Raven built up through this show and create a character just begging to be gif’d all over Tumblr.

Cyborg, Because He Is The Best

Cyborg

Cyborg

No, really DC/Warner, go do something with Cyborg right now. He is the best. You must want to, seeing as you both moved him up to being a founding member of the Justice League in the New 52 and included him as a playable character in the recent video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.

For those of you who don’t know him, Cyborg is another frequent member of the Teen Titans created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and one of DC’s premiere black superheroes. Victor Stone is the genius son of two scientists whose use of their son as a guinea pig for their experiments drove him to hang out with a bad crowd. An accident left Victor severely crippled, but luckily those pesky old parents were able to rebuild him, Robocop-style, with cybernetic prosthetics. In terms of abilities, he’s basically Iron Man if the suit never came off. Some argue that his reliance on his prosthetics also makes him one of the few disabled superheroes.

A lot of Cyborg’s backstory is coded, both explicitly and implicitly, with racial issues. Upon his release from medical care Victor found many people reacted to him with fear and suspicion due to his prosthetics, though it’s not hard to untangle that particular metaphor. There’s also his best friend, whose fall into domestic terrorism was motivated by various causes in the different versions of Cyborg’s origin, including racial issues and his conversion to a very radical form of Islam.

But that’s not to say that a Cyborg project would need to include that coding. On the one hand, an honest, intelligent exploration of such issues would be a genuinely huge step forward for superhero media. On the other, there are so few mainstream film and television projects in the West about People of Colour that don’t somehow revolve around issues of race that a film where black Robocop fights aliens with laser cannons and punching could also be seen as a huge step forward for superhero media. Yes, I find that depressing too.

Screw It, Just Make a High School AU

There’s more than enough heroes to just make a high school, or even college drama with a bunch of heroes saving the world in between Trig class. The plot takes care of itself, so I’m just going to run through a few characters you could include.artemis

First off is Artemis Crock, an original character created for the animated show Young Justice, where she serves as the mysterious newcomer and their resident archer after Speedy passed up the opportunity to join. Despite the show’s short run and the character’s short history, she’s still an interesting choice and effectively a tabula rasa with enough precedence to be a “legitimate” pick in the eyes of fans.

Next up, the stars of the Super Best Friends Forever shorts. Namely, Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder Girl. Their backstories are easy to explain, their names are easy draws and they each have multiple versions and interpretations to draw from.

There’s also Bunker, one of the members of the Teen Titans in its New 52 reboot. He’s a gay Mexican teenager from a loving family who became a superhero because he wanted to. It’s a refreshingly upbeat backstory for any superhero, let alone the overly grimdark New 52. As another relatively new hero, Bunker provides a lot of opportunities to pretty much create a character from scratch while still being a “legitimate” comic character.

Bunker

And finally, I’m going to bend my own rules a little because honestly this character is too great not to mention and would genuinely fit into this kind of show. Are you ready for this? No you’re not, but here we go.

Danny the Street. A living, sentient street who can teleport himself to any city in the world and identifies as a transvestite. How does a street express itself as a transvestite? By putting pink, frilly curtains and awnings on places like gun shops. Danny likes to provide a haven to people who have been somehow excluded or exiled from society. It would make a great base of operations and hangout for the group as well as dragging in the character of the week or setting up crossovers. Tell me you don’t want a TV show with Danny the Street.

Special mention goes to Fire & Ice, who are traditionally young(-er) adult superheroines but not teenagers. I’d love to see them de-aged a bit and put into this kind of show. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I didn’t choose Jaime Reyes for this list, it’s that his powers would probably be too expensive for an ensemble show. I would have given him his own section on this page, but it was running a little long. Maybe I’ll get to him later.

There’s still more non-white guy characters DC could mine, both inside this “teen” category and out of it, but that’s enough…for now.

A good chap who frequently gets tea leaves stuck in his eyebrows.

2 Comments

  1. Kelly

    December 11, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Honestly, I think “Screw It, Just Make a High School AU” is the best idea that DC isn’t using right now.

  2. JG

    December 18, 2013 at 2:46 AM

    The “Screw It, Just Make a High School AU” kind of almost happened with the somewhat interesting (if slightly confusing) Batman High School idea which has a lot of artwork on the net.

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