It’s not that I like villains in particular, you understand. It’s just that I like Complicated. I like heroes who make hard decisions. I like villains who say “fuck it you don’t get to judge us!” I like people on opposite sides who have a deep respect for each other. I like crime. I like the grey.
I love this line up of books, guys. Like you wouldn’t believe.
28. BIRDS OF PREY. Tigress (Artemis Crock, who looks more like her cartoon incarnation than her to-date comics version) is trying to break from her parents’ villainous shadow and be a heroine. Starling (Evelyn Crawford) is just out of her first prison sentence and would like to go straight but doesn’t know how. Enter the mysterious earrings that appear in the mail one day. Oracle (Barbara Gordon) has decided to give these women a straight path to follow, operating at least partly on the request of her best friend Black Canary (Dinah Lance), who wants to call in a favor for a childhood friend (Evelyn) and for the daughter of two of her mother’s adversaries (Artemis.) Canary very occasionally makes herself available for the two, Oracle goes back to her original set up and never reveals herself to the team, which she sends after targets a little too covert and secretive for Justice League or Batman attention. There are frequent and insistent jokes about tigers not being birds, but they’re subtle, because the team is still not called Birds of Prey.
29. CROOKED. Oliver Queen is fed up with the reactionary way of doing things that involves waiting for a bad guy to emerge and beating him until the threat passes. He sees massive inequality in the world and he wants to address this directly, in the way of his idol – by robbing the rich to give to the poor. He gets together a team: Selina Kyle (object retrieval); Edward Nigma (Strategy); Hartley Rathaway (persuasion and subterfuge); Wendy Harris (virtual infiltration) and Anissa Pierce and Grace Choi (punching things.) This features a great deal of Oliver Queen getting more and more frustrated with the moral code of some of his team. But it’s Leverage with superheroes, guys. This is the book Ollie was created to star in.
30. BAD REPUTATION. On the streets of Bludhaven, a group of teens with Superheroes are thrown together: Tye Longshadow can project a powerful astral form; Euardo Dorado has limited teleportation; Asami Koizumi can focus her chi into the air and the twins Zane and Jayna Burroughs are shapeshifters. (Zane and Jayna are identical, not fraternal twins. Jayna is a trans woman.) In trying to understand the source of their powers, and avoid the attention of untrustworthy adults, the group acquires a sixth member: an unpowered redhead calling himself Rob, who has complete amnesia before a few months ago. Despite not knowing who he is, Rob exhibits suburb physical prowess, and muscle memory that reveals outstanding fighting ability. If you can’t guess what Rob’s true identity is, I won’t spoil it here. But I told you he’d turn up somewhere!
This is a YOUNG READERS title, and a shameless Runaways rip off in the proud tradition of the Big Two stamping all over each other’s ideas.
31. SECRET SIX is Scandal Savage, Knockout, Deadshot, Catman, Jeanette, Bane, Ragdoll and King Shark, and they don’t really care that there’s eight of them. They’re going to do crime, and they’re going to be a messed up family that doesn’t need anyone and they’re going to Not Talk About Their Feelings, until eventually all the steam runs out and they’re replaced by a Suicide Squad title.
32. THE OUTSIDERS is a group founded and led by Nightwing (Dick Grayson) of a group of not-quite-fitting in adult superheroes who would rather hunt down supervillains at large than wait for them to recommit crimes. The team consists of: Red Arrow/Roy Harper; Joanna Pierce/Lightning; Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana; Rex Mason/Metamorpho; Tara Markov/Terra; Jennifer Lynn-Haden/Jade and Priscilla Kitaen/Voodoo. Not as messed up as Secret Six but messed-er up than Birds of Prey! In this line up, it’s the closest thing to a ‘regular’ superhero title.