10 DC Storylines That Should Be Made Into Animated Features - Mania.com

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10 DC Storylines That Should Be Made Into Animated Features

DC Comic Storylines We Want to See Animated

By Chad Derdowski     March 09, 2010

DC Storylines That Should Be Made Into Animated Features
© Mania/Bob Trate


Last month, Tim Janson used the release of Planet Hulk on DVD as a reason to come up with a wish list of classic Marvel storylines that oughtta be turned into animated features. This month, hot on the heels of DC’s amazing Crisis on Two Earths DVD, we’re delving into our longboxes to find a few suggestions for DC story arcs that deserve the direct-to-DVD treatment. 

10. The Great Darkness Saga

If you’re a Legion fan, we don’t need to explain why this story belongs on the list. If you’re not, it goes a little something like this: The story originally appeared in “Legion of Super Heroes” # 290-#294 and features appearances from virtually every living member of the LSH, past and present as well as nearly every supporting character the book had seen. A mysterious villain not only hands the Legion their asses on several occasions, he also defeats Mordru and the Time Trapper with relative ease. And the big reveal? It’s Darkseid, who, in his quest for power, takes control of 3 billion Daxamites and forces them to sculpt their home world into his likeness, which is exactly what we’d do with that kind of power. An enormous cast of characters and incredibly high stakes make this a no-brainer for an animated feature.

9. The Longbow Hunters

Mike Grell’s “mature readers” take on Green Arrow would make an interesting film and would serve as a great showcase for another one of DC’s second-stringers. Eschewing boxing glove and boomerang arrows for a somewhat more traditional approach to vigilantism, this story has Oliver Queen tracking down a serial killer and infiltrating a drug racket. So we’re definitely talking about a PG-13 story, which is what these animated films are shooting for anyway. The success of this Eisner Award-nominated series was enough that DC commissioned the first ever Green Arrow ongoing series. With Oliver Queen appearing regularly on Smallville, perhaps an animated adventure would be the next step towards mainstream recognition and a spot at the big kids table next Christmas?

8. The Killing Joke

There are enough great Batman stories out there that we could easily come up with a list dedicated solely to the “Darknight Detective.” “The Long Halloween,” “Dark Knight Returns” and “Hush” would all make excellent choices but if we had to boil it down to one, we’ll pick “The Killing Joke.”
It’s the ultimate example of the psychological mirror that is the Batman/Joker relationship. Both men are just victims of a really bad day. While Batman forges ahead, finding meaning in his tragedy, the Joker represents the random injustice that life has to offer. At the end of the day, who are we to really say which one is crazy and which one is sane? Long story short: if you’re going to tell a story with Batman and the Joker, this is the one to tell.

7. JLA: Tower of Babel

Speaking of the psychological turmoil that is Batman’s mind, we offer “Tower of Babel” as a both a great Batman story and a great Justice League story. Originally presented in “JLA” #42 - #46, it goes like this: Ra’s Al Ghul is attacking the language centers of humanity, reducing the written word to unreadable nonsense. He plans to release a nerve toxin that will spark a war between two nations already teetering on the brink of war.  In order to eliminate anyone who might stand in his way, he has disabled the Justice League through a series of coordinated attacks specifically designed as a counter for each member’s strengths and weaknesses. And how did he figure out the best way to eliminate the most powerful beings on earth? By hacking into Batman’s private files.
It’s a story that gives us a Batman with admirable foresight and terrifying paranoia. And it’s one hell of a good JLA story to boot!

6. Justice League: A New Beginning

And for something decidedly different, how about Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ version of the Justice League? The year was 1987 and the Crisis on Infinite Earth was fresh in everyone’s minds. Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash were all in the midst of reboots and overhauls and Aquaman was in creative limbo. As a result, the revamped Justice League was anything but a “big seven.” Rather, it amounted to Batman playing babysitter to a bunch of oddballs and proved that a humorous tone could work in a superhero setting. And if nothing else, it’s the series that gave us the buddy team of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, two characters who have never been utilized better before or since. All you gotta do is animate it in the style of Kevin Maguire’s artwork and adapt the first arc in the series. With big action, big fun and big laughs, it would serve as a welcome contrast to the more serious stuff we usually see from DC’s animation studio.

5. Swamp Thing: Love and Death

The Vertigo line can pretty much be traced back to this story, which marked the first DC comic with newsstand distribution to go out on a monthly basis sans Comic Code authority. Proving that he will literally go to Hell and back for the woman he loves, Swamp Thing battles Anton Arcane and hordes of otherworldly creatures in order to save the soul of Abby Arcane. Along the way he encounters a variety of DC’s magical characters including The Spectre, Deadman,  Phantom Stranger and Jack Kirby’s Demon. Horror stories don’t get much better than this and there are few love stories more beautiful. Swamp Thing has always been a viable property and this story ranks among Alan Moore’s best work for the company.

4. Blackest Night

While it might be a bit premature to call “Blackest Night” a classic, there’s no denying the appeal of seeing nearly the entire DC Universe at odds with cosmic zombies in a universal struggle of life and death. Coming off of the success of “Green Lantern: First Flight” (as well as the mountains of praise the “Blackest Night” event itself has been receiving) and playing into the upcoming release of the Green Lantern feature film, this is a Green Lantern story that is firmly entrenched in the DC Universe proper. So you’re killing two birds with one stone by adapting this one.
DC has been big on giving GL the push as “the next big thing,” so why not treat fans to the biggest Lantern story of them all? One that spans galaxies and features cameos from the Justice League to the Teen Titans and everyone in-between, as well as a rainbow of Lantern Corps. Throw in a set of rings with every DVD and you’ve got fried gold, baby.

3. Red Son

Like Batman, we could devote an entire list to various Elseworlds tales we’d like to see animated. A Victorian Age Batman hunting Jack the Ripper in Gotham by Gaslight? A world without Superman in “The Nail?” How about “Speeding Bullets,” in which a ship rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton arrives outside of Gotham City?
But if we had to pick just one, it would be Mark Millar’s “Red Son.” We’ve all grown up with Superman fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He even met John F. Kennedy back in the 1960s. What if he’d stood side-by-side with Joseph Stalin and fought for truth, justice and… communism?!? This story reimagines the Cold War arms race as a superbeing race and shows us a very different, but still very familiar DC Universe.

2. Crisis on Infinite Earths

As far as we’re concerned, “Crisis on Two Worlds” just opened the doorway for bigger and better things. We’d like to see an animated feature kick that door wide open and tell the story that served as both the end and the beginning of the DC Universe. With a cast that includes literally everyone in the DCU, “Crisis” is likely just wishful thinking on our part and would definitely require a two-part story. Hitting the pause button and picking out all the obscure characters in the background is the reason why High-Def was created.

1. DC vs. Marvel

There’s a reason why they call these “wish lists.” We’re not holding our breath for this one to ever get into pre-production let alone see the light of day, but a fanboy can dream can’t he? Even with all the amazing stories we’ve listed here, nothing would top the thrill of seeing Superman slug it out with the Hulk or Batman tangle with Captain America. 
If you like the DC vs. Marvel match-ups, you should take a look at Spider-Man Vs. Batman or Hulk Vs. Superman. Even for the Superbowl, we matched up DC and Marvel; heroes on offense and villains on defense for the Super Hero Bowl.

If you are a comic fan and you haven't seen the latest trailer for Iron Man 2, my god what is wrong with you?

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karas1 3/9/2010 4:38:37 AM

I like gigantic crossovers with everybody in the universe in them as much as the next fangirl but It might be a tad confusing in a movie.  Particurlarly if some people in the audience weren't steeped in DC lore.  Better to concentrate on smaller stories with smaller casts.

Kara S

midwest216 3/9/2010 5:19:57 AM

I'm old-school, so I would like to see a feature about the " Secret Wars" series from maybe 1986-88(?)(check dates). I missed a few issues and as a kid was loving those stories.

littlemikey979 3/9/2010 5:55:26 AM

I would like to see Kingdom Come animated, not only is it one of the best stories but being of huge fan of Alex Ross' art work and would love to see it in animated form.

DarthDuck 3/9/2010 6:50:01 AM

I would probably do unspeakable things to see an animated version of Red Son.  I like the choice of The Killing Joke also.  With very few changes it could be turned into an animated movie and unlike some of the other choices, such as The Dark Knight Returns, is simple enough for the 70 minutes or so that thes movie typically run.

Rheul_home 3/9/2010 7:42:44 AM

I have not read all of these (Im a Marvel guy)  but the ones I have I totally agree with. All Star Superman would be very cool as well. Too bad a lot of these stories are far to mature in nature to be green lit by WB... Cant wait to see the Marvel list.

ChadDerdowski 3/9/2010 7:45:07 AM

Kara - I completely see where you're coming from in regards to stuff like Crisis.  It would have to be many hours long and yeah, it's a bit convoluted.  But I think it could be pared down similar to the way Planet Hulk was.  True, a lot of the nuance and subtext was lost in Planet Hulk - but there's not a ton of subtext to Crisis.  It's basically just a big fight. 

Keep the focus on a small cast (the Supermen, Flash, Alexander Luthor, Pariah and Harbinger) and let much of the rest of it appear in the background.  No, it won't be a true adaptation of COIE, but it could be a lot of fun.  If DC did a sequel to Crisis on Two Worlds to further the story and get newcomers acclimated to the multiverse, then Crisis on Infinite Earths could be the final part of a trilogy.

Or maybe it's all wishful thinking on my part?

Midwest - I think Tim had Secret Wars on his list.  I can't remember

littlemikey - No argument here.

DarthDuck - Its such a tough call.  Dark Knight Returns would be an equally awesome choice - I went with Killing Joke because it's a classic that, to my knowledge, is rarely mentioned when we're talking animation.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 3/9/2010 7:45:51 AM

What about Hush or No Man's Land?

ChadDerdowski 3/9/2010 7:46:41 AM

Rheul_home - There's a link at the very top of my article to Tim Jansen's Marvel list.  It's really good!

Wiseguy 3/9/2010 8:17:58 AM

Kingdom Come is my all time favorite DC Elseworlds story, heck it may be one of the best stories period. Can't believe it was omitted

millean 3/9/2010 8:17:59 AM

Ooohhh, I love littlemikey's idea of Kingdom Come.  I personally think the DC animated library needs to expand itself with more characters a bit first.  And good luck to the person developing the art/animation style on this as Alex Ross has already set quite a precedence for this one.

I'm quickly getting tired of all Batman, all the time on these DC animated features (which is saying something coming from me, but there are so many great properties out there).  However, "The Killing Joke" would be a good one.

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