Before Watchmen — a project that nobody asked for prequelizing one of the most beloved mainstream comic books of all time — got us thinking about other DC Comics miniseries that the company could bring back. But then we thought about the projects that DC would likely never, ever bring back, because it's more fun to talk about semi-obscure comic books.
So here they are: ten comic books that you don't have to worry about getting follow-ups to, because they'll never happen.
10. All-Star Batman & Robin
What It Was: Before taking his PTSD out on the world with (CB Best of 2011 Award Winner) Holy Terror!, Frank Miller teamed up with Jim Lee to revisit Batman for DC's then newly launched All-Star line. Basically it involves Batman punching everyone he feels like punching, calling people "retarded" and just generally being a dick.
Why It Won't Happen: ASBR may as well be the very series that convinced comic fans that Frank Miller had truly lost his shit. The series started out with strong numbers but before long it had devolved to a laughing stock amongst fans and heathens alike, culminating in a series of memes, with "I'M THE GODDAMN BATMAN" winding up the reigning champion. You could even go so far as to claim that the series was partially responsible for sinking the All-Star line altogether. Oh, there's also the little matter of Frank Miller completely losing his shit. Did we mention that yet?
What Would Happen If It Did: Are you kidding? There's still plenty of people left in the world that Batman hasn't punched or offensively insulted. Do a flash forward sequel, hand that baby over to Neil Hamburger and you're good to go.
9. Global Frequency
What It Was: Warren Ellis and a different artist each issue brought us 12 standalone stories about a global spy organization of 1,001 loosely connected agents headed by a woman named Miranda Zero, who enlists a handful of said agents for each high-concept mission. If you loved Ellis' run on Secret Avengers, this was basically the cooler older brother to that comic.
Why It Won't Happen: The only conceivable scenario where Global Frequency returns is if someone finally gets it made into a TV series for Fox or the CW, DC sees the need for a cash-in miniseries and Warren Ellis gives his blessing. The first attempt at a Global Frequency pilot by John Rogers wasn't picked up, and rumblings about another attempt haven't manifested yet, so there won't be any need to return to the world of Global Frequency on the comic book page for quite some time.
What Would Happen If It Did: It would be a six-issue miniseries called something like Global Frequency: White Noise, composed of six standalone stories by different writer/artist teams that all interconnect in clever ways to create a much bigger story. No matter how good it is, most readers will ignore it because Warren Ellis isn't directly involved in it.
What It Was: Way back in that magical time when Frank Miller was widely regarded as one of comics' most important figures, he helped usher in the graphic novel era with a pet project called Ronin. The series was a cyberpunk samurai adventure loosely inspired by Lone Wolf and Cub that has wound up being one of Miller's most underrated works.
Why It Won't Happen: Miller would find huge success in the miniseries world a few years later with Dark Knight Returns, a title he would later revisit, but Ronin didn't have the benefit of featuring a widely recognizable character in a new setting. In fact, Ronin is in part notable for its bleakness and reading it now it's easy to see where Miller would eventually go with works like Sin City. So file this one under way ahead of its time.
What Would Happen If It Did: We now live in a time where merging Japanese and Western styles in comics is old hat, but back in the day Ronin was truly revolutionary. Revisiting the series today would require a similar jump in technique, and given the sudden influx of video game concept artists to the world of comics, this would be the perfect title to allow some of that style to filter in. Picture the Carbon Grey team taking on the titular Ronin, or Nate Simpson fleshing out the dystopic world the story is set in and then ask yourself why Watchmen is getting all the fun.
7. The Kents
What It Was: Written by John Ostrander with art by Timothy Truman (and later Tom Mandrake for the last few issues), The Kents was a western that chronicled the history of the Superman's Earth-Dad's family in the 1800s. It's a solid western-style family drama, but the framing device of depicting Jonathan and Clark Kent reading the memoirs of their ancestors doesn't really go anywhere, and there's a really cheap evoking of the Superman S-shield when one of the ancestors (who looks preposterously similar to Clark) gets an Indian blanket.
Why It Won't Happen: The Kents was one of those ideas where you can see the reasoning behind it ("We're always making comics about what Krypton was like, but what about the ancestry of Superman's adoptive parents?") but it feels like that kind of concept that you c
an only pull off once so that it can remain a curiosity in the annals of comics history.
What Would Happen If It Did: The original Kents was a pretty down-to-earth series completely lacking in aliens, robots, vampires or zombies. It's easy to imagine a return to that material that's more "genre" and "reader-friendly," by which I mean Jonah Hex is in it. And we'll all say, "Jeez, the '90s really are back, aren't they?"
6. The Filth
What It Was: Grant Morrison publicly declared in Supergods that The Filth was effectively creative detox for him, a series that allowed him to exorcise all of the comic book demons that were haunting his career. It's the darker, more perverted side to The Invisibles, an ambitious series that questioned every day reality and made the mundane hip.
Why It Won't Happen: The Filth is perhaps Morrison's most pessimistic work, an unflinching take down of the status quo with a bittersweet ending and scenes of epic debauchery and base pursuits, including a story revolving around an attack of giant killer sperm. The Filth didn't exactly fly off the shelves the first time around, so a revisit probably wouldn't fare much better.
What Would Happen If It Did: Morrison is said to have completely immersed himself in pornography as research for The Filth and it's with that in mind that we suggest handing it over to a whole fleet of perverts. Namely Johnny Ryan, who could max out The Filth's ballsy No Future themes and make it even uglier. It wouldn't sell and it's unlikely anyone would be able to reasonably masturbate to it, but it's the type of "fuck you" gesture that makes perfect sense for the work.
5. Sonic Disruptors
What It Was: Mike Baron and Barry Crain show us a future where the only thing that can save the world from dystopian control is rock 'n' roll. If you guessed that means that a pirate radio station broadcasting banned music from a space satellite is the focus of Sonic Disruptors, you are correct.
Why It Won't Happen: The proposed 12-issue series was cancelled after seven issues. Guess rock 'n' roll's greatest weakness isn't censorship or Nickelback, but rather just the usual evil banality of low sales.
What Would Happen If It Did: They should probably finish the original series first before even beginning to think about a follow-up. If anything, I'm sure the 24-year delay between issues would make J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston feel a little better about taking three years to finish The Twelve.
What It Was: After the Earth X debacle, Alex Ross and Jim Krueger went across the way to DC to offer up a grimy update of, uh, Super Friends. What resulted was a series that wasn't anywhere near as convoluted and messy as Earth X and all its offshoots. Instead it was merely somewhat messy and convoluted.
Why It Won't Happen: Unlike Ross' previous DC miniseries Kingdom Come, Justice didn't exactly inspire religious fervor amongst fans. Part of that was due to Jim Krueger, who lacks the skills of previous Ross collaborators Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek, who on top of their encyclopedic knowledge of comic history also just really get characters. While Kingdom Come remains a fan favorite, Justice just sort of exists, not bothering anybody but not doing much to inspire excitement either.
What Would Happen If It Did: Considering Darwyn Cooke already created something similar with The New Frontier, why not hand the series over to other animation vets like Kyle Baker or Bruce Timm? Strip the series of the photorealism and play up the cartoon style that the source inspiration had and you just might wind up with a work that fans can truly enjoy.
3. The Atlantis Chronicles
What It Was: Created by Peter David and Esteban Maroto, The Atlantis Chronicles was a seven-issue miniseries that went over the history of Aquaman's hometown, providing some valuable world-building that gave the character a history and a gravitas that most wouldn't expect from the so-called weak link of the Superfriends.
Why It Won't Happen: A comic book about the history of Atlantis in the year 2012? In this market? That's like a license not to print money.
What Would Happen If It Did: Have you been reading the new Aquaman series? If that comic book is any indication, a return to Atlantis Chronicles would involve the revelation of a new scroll revealing a prophecy that the city's greatest hero will be mocked by all land-dwellers, giving Aquaman even more of a needless chip on his shoulder.
What It Was: Surprisingly, not a comic adaptation of the Michael Jackson video. Instead it was about a team called the Seven Seconds, who have no connection whatsoever to the Seven Soldiers of Victory. But they did solve quasi-supernatural crimes and eat Scooby snacks. Oh, and save the world from nuclear destruction. No big deal.
Why It Won't Happen: Until we made this list I didn't even know this series existed. And I co-run a comics website.
What Would Happen If It Did: Weirdly, now might be the perfect time for a new version of Thriller, since it's got elements of shows like Fringe, The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with a decidedly Challengers of the Unknown-like sensibility. Surely there's a celebrity out there who wants to moonlight as a comic creator and take this on? A certain Mr. Whedon, perhaps?
1. Camelot 3000
What It Was: The grandaddy of the 12-issue maxiseries and "mature readers" mainstream comics, Camelot 3000 by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland (!) follows the Knights of the Round Table, now reborn in the year 3000 to battle Morgan Le Fay's alien forces. Like a good '80s movie, there's also a kid sidekick — the kid who accidentally resurrected the gang — who learns how to be a hero in the ensuing adventure. As hilarious as it may seem, if it weren't for Camelot 3000 there probably wouldn't be a Vertigo.
Why It Won't Happen: Despite its historical significance, there's ZERO name recognition for this project. And, trust me, it hasn't aged well at all, landing squarely in the territory of deliciously goofy early '80s comic book kitsch. Watchmen is being milked, but Camelot 3000 has remained sacred and untouched due mostly to lack of interest and marketability.
What Would Happen If It Did: Besides bewilderment? Probably some gritty, violent take that doesn't have the pure comic book charm of the original series. Does it even matter? Brian Bolland wouldn't be drawing interiors.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine (drawn by Eric Zawadzski) will debut in Spring 2012.