Super Hero Squad Rumorbuster

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's Missing

One of the beauties of a new toy-line is in all the possibilities that lay ahead. While we still love Super Hero Squad and look forward to the Marvel Universe figures, Infinite Heroes (despite their current poor articulation) has this sense of possibility. With the animated Justice League/DCU line still putting out new characters and plumbing the depths of the animated DC Universe (see: the upcoming Temple Fugate/Clock King figure as an example) and with IH's first offerings including characters like Guy Gardner and Black Hand when conventional wisdom indicates John Stewart and Sinestro would have been more likely choices, it's easy to believe Mattel's hype.

Rather than front-loading the release schedule with big names, it seems obvious that many A-list characters are being held back to anchor future waves, and that many B-list (and below) characters have a serious chance with this line.

This is an unabashed wishlist, supported by excitement and reason, and one that you should feel free to add to. Although it's hard to tell what the future holds, even if DC and Mattel are unable to keep up with the planned 45 characters over the course of the next 4 months that are currently planned for the remainder of 2008, imagine a line with even 75 new characters over the course of a year?

With that in mind, we've picked ten groups of characters and come up with some characters for each. Some are obvious choices (Wonder Woman, Joker, Sinestro, Robin) and some are certainly B-List and below characters. There's a rough character count after each group but because DC loves legacies, do we really need to count each Hawk, Dove, Cosmic Boy and Robin individually? And as a side-note, with the exception of Kingdom Come's Superman, Elseworlds and alternate reality characters are left out because otherwise we'd be posting a list of the best Supermen, Batmen and Wonder Women we want. Because of the weird rights issues, characters from Milestone, Wildstorm, Impact, and Vertigo titles are omitted (except for a handful with strong DCU connections)

1) Wonder Woman characters. Diana herself is almost a certainty, but she comes with a large supporting cast. Donna Troy (double dutying as a Titan character), Artemis, Ares, Hippolyta, Cheetah, Circe, and Nemesis (a fairly recent addition to the WW cast) are easy choices. Roughly 8 characters.

2) Aquaman and co. Like Wonder Woman, he seems like a lock, and there's many incarnations to make. Hook-hand, water hand, classic Super Friends style. Since Mattel says in interviews that they attempt to coordinate DCUC, DC Direct and Infinite Heroes, it's likely that Aquaman's appearances in both DCUC series 2 and planned return in series 7 kept him out of the running for an early figure. Still, original Arthur/Orin could be joined with a modern Joseph, Aqualad/Tempest, Dolphin, Atlan, Ocean Master, Lorena/Aquagirl, King Shark would make a handsome underwater crew. Roughly 8 characters.

3) Green Lanterns. While the first set of announced figures is definitely Lantern friendly (Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Manhunters, Black Hand, Star Sapphire and of course, Hal Jordan), this line was built for the Green Lanterns. Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott, Kilowog, Jade, Boodikka, G'nort, Ganthet, Sinestro, Tomar-Re (or Tomar-Tu... it's really a toss-up), Jack T. Chance, Evil Star, Goldface, Major Force, Mongul and any of the Sinestro Corps are just waiting for figures. Roughly 14 characters.

4) Justice League. Notice anything about the first three entries? They're all heavily affiliated with the Justice League. Then again, who isn't. While many major leagers have already been made or shown, a few modern classics like Red Arrow, Hawkgirl, Vixen, Firestorm and Red Tornado are always ready. Going back a little, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Doctor Light (the nice one, the lady), Elongated Man, Zauriel would make great figures. Villains like Queen Bee, Despero, Dr. Light (the first one, the guy), Felix Faust, Prometheus, and Neron would make quite the assortment. Roughly 18 characters.

5) Justice Society. Another group well represented by the early figures, the sheer number of members mean this team requires its own shelf to be done justice. Modern members like Mister Terrific, Sand, Doctor Mid-Nite, Lightning, Lance, Kingdom Come Superman, Stargirl, Starman (Thom Kallor), Damage, Liberty Belle/Jesse Quick, Hourman, Cyclone and Atom Smasher are great choices, with Starman (Ted or Jack Knight), and an Al Pratt Atom representing some classics. Roughly 15 characters.

6) 4th World. The total and absolute lack of any Kirby/4th World characters suggests the following: While wonderfully nostalgic, the New Gods never seem to play nice with the rest of DC's characters, or, and this is most likely, the events in Death of the New Gods and Final Crisis are going to result in a serious re-invention of the New Gods and everyone from Beautiful Dreamer to Darkseid. Whether Mattel is holding out for brave new versions of Kirby's classics or for a high-intensity re-launch coming out of Final Crisis's finale, Parademons keep with IH's avowed love for army building, Darkseid, Orion, Metron, Lightray, Mister Miracle and Big Barda are virtual guarantees, while great lower-level characters include Big Bear and Beautiful Dreamer, Infinity Man, Black Racer, Moonrider, Serifan, Vykin, Highfather, Takion, Desaad, Granny Goodness, Kalibak, Steppenwolf and Mantis. Roughly 21 characters.

7) The Legion. Like the 4th World, the Legion seems to be in a period of flux. Regular readers of Lying in the Gutters will know that Johnston has been long covering the possible comings and goings of creative staff on the book, and Final Crisis's Legion of Three Worlds is theoretically going to bring some sense of balance to the three concurrent alternate Legion of Super Heroes realities. While Legion salesmen will try to convince you that knowledge of Legion continuity is unnecessary, back-issue hunting (does anyone still do that?) will be torture if you don't at least recognize that until the late 1980's, the story was one long adventure that skips ahead 5 years and drastically changes most everyone, while more classic versions (time-dislodged versions of many characters, discovered by their latter day counterparts) appeared in a spin-off title. Until the mid-90's when the books were rebooted, pre-continuity was shucked off and for about 10 years the book continued until the third and latest re-boot prior to the Infinite Crisis storyline.

Having said that, 2008 is the Legion's 50th anniversary, and no army of heroes is complete without the original army of heroes. Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Chameleon, Colossal Boy, Ultra Boy, Invisible Kid, Starboy, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Shrinking Violet, Matter Eater Lad, Ferro Lad, Karate Kid, Dawnstar, Wildfire, XS, Andromeda, Timber Wolf (pick and choose which versions of the various characters) make a handsome roster, while Lightning Lord, Nemesis Kid, Tyr, Mano, Emerald Empress, Validus, Time Trapper and Mordru would be formidable enemies. Roughly 29 characters.

8) Secret Society of Super Villains. Another team that already has representatives in the current offerings, but is missing some noteworthy members. The original Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Copperhead, Shadow Thief, Floronic Man and Poison Ivy flesh out the classic roster, while Talia al Ghul, Deathstroke, Grodd, Vandal Savage, Chemo, Doctor Polaris, Killer Frost, and Solomon Grundy represent the more familiar modern members. Catman, Chronos and Libra have had varying roles with the Society so throw them figures too. Roughly 17 characters.

9) Titans. They're initially well represented with Wonder Girl, Flash, Raven, Starfire and Supergirl either here or on the way, but to really represent we'll be waiting for Nightwing, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Robin, Miss Martian, Red Devil, Ravager, Blue Beetle, some pairing of Hawk and Dove, Flamebird and Terra. We'd throw in Kon-El if we had some idea what the heck DC can or can not do with him. Roughly 13 characters.

10) The Rest. In their recent interview, the Four Horsemen said that Swamp Thing was among the available DCUC characters, despite the long-standing prohibition against Vertigo and related characters being licensed to anyone but DC Direct, but Swamp Thing, Constantine and Sandman (Morpheus or Daniel) have all interacted with the DCU proper both pre-Vertigo and post (Swamp Thing and Constantine attended Hal Jordan's funeral, Daniel shared an adventure with the Justice League) are good choices, and so aren't bat-villains Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Lady Shiva, Clayface, Harley Quinn, Man-Bat, Riddler, Scarecrow, Two-Face and bat-friends like Huntress, Spoiler, Sasha Bordeaux, and of course characters like Steel, Animal Man, Eradicator, Lady Styx, Mary Marvel, Blue Devil, Speedy, Fire, Ice, Lobo, Doomsday, Eclipso, Phantom Stranger, Manhunter (the Kate Spencer version), Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, El Diablo, Sgt. Rock, the Blackhawks, Etrigan, Captain Atom (or Monarch), Deadman, Geo-Force, Metamorpho, or Warlord. Roughly 42 characters.

And if they're really stretching for lower teir characters, might we recomend Gemm (Son of Saturn), the Shaggy Man, Anthro, Amethyst, Claw, Tomorrow Woman, Fate (not the doctor), OMAC (the ever-handy modern robots or the 70's post-apocalyptic gentleman, and almost any member of LEGION, Power Company, the Omega Men, Darkstars, Xenobrood, Challengers of the Unknown, Freedom Fighters or Suicide Squad. Roughly too many characters.

Maybe someday we'll do a What's Missing for the Super Hero Squad too just to show we're not partial to one universe or another.

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