Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Cool If Space Ghost Was in the DC Universe?

Superheroes are pretty awesome, and though almost all of them have an undying love for cheese sandwiches, they all remain icons in the hearts of millions. For each time Iron Man gets blasted with a hypno ray, he's also been lashed with energy tentacles. For each Batman: The Brave and the Bold there's about four The Dark Knight Returns. The best comics are written by balancing the levels of cheese with the levels of awesome to create a buffet of the world's best flavors.

But there's a number of heroes who seem to be a little bit bipolar. The renowned Batman being one of them, but my favorite lies elsewhere in the outer most reaches of space. Someone who has been largely left in limbo for a great deal of time, although he has most recently teamed up with the Dark Knight to rescue his young wards and put an end to a scheme of the Creature King. I am an unimaginably huge fan of:

Can't you read? I said: "SPAAAAAAACCCEE GHOOOST!"
Space Ghost was Hanna-Barbera's most successful attempt at an action program, which means that it unfortunately suffered from classic Hanna-Barbera syndrome: low quality animation, recycle backgrounds, unedited plots, and doofy situations. Despite the world being stacked against him, Space Ghost (and his later knock-off, Birdman) managed to pummel and punch his way into stardom. 

More than a decade after the original cartoon had ended, Space Ghost resurfaced as a pioneer of the Adult Swim networking block, hosting his own celebrity talk show. While this was a great departure for both the character and the franchise, Space Ghost Coast to Coast lasted for eight seasons, and then came back for a brief stint in 2006. Most recently, however, the spectral savior of space has been seen in the opening segment of Batman: The Brave and the Bold having a fly-by conversation with his old chum Batman which quickly leads into a confrontation that forces the heroes to work together.

And then I came.
But it hasn't all been corny one-liners and half-assed action sequences for Space Ghost. In 2005 DC published a short but excellent Space Ghost miniseries penned by Joe Kelly and featuring stunning artwork by Ariel Olivetti.The miniseries remained faithful to the Space Ghost mythos and tucked itself neatly into continuity, explaining the caped Casper's origins, as well as his first encounter with his arch nemesis Zorak, and his adoption of young Jan and Jace. While remaining completely faithful to the continuity of the Space Ghost cartoons, the comic was more complex, and much more dark, showing how Space Ghost himself almost became more of a Punisher-esque figure after the murder of his pregnant wife and unborn child.

Despite Space Ghost's five-minute and forty-four-second team up with Batman, and his five issue series being published by DC Comics, the hero himself isn't considered a part of the DC continuity or universe. He's in everybody's heart, mind, and soul, but he's not in their bodies. And that's what counts. Having Space Ghost in your body.

Just think about how cool it would be to have Space Ghost palling around with all of history's greatest superheroes. Having coffee on the JLA Watchtower with Martian Manhunter, taking on the non-Martian Manhunters with Hal Jordan, swooping in to steal Lois Lane from under Superman's mighty nose. Oh, what good times could be had. Justice League Unlimited would have been a much better program with Space Ghost taking a little of that screen time, even if it were for just one episode.

You're lying if you think this doesn't cool.
"But wait, Nate. Even if Space Ghost existed in the main DC universe, he would be in the future, not from the current time."

Or, y'know, considering the nature of the character he could simply be from a different planet with human-like inhabitants. That would basically allow for every Space Ghost adventure to have at some point taken place in the main continuity with just a few minor tweaks to location names. Hell, Space Ghost could be galactically famous before he even sets foot on Earth, which leads right in to actually fitting that abominable Coast to Coast into the continuity.

Coast to Coast is a cash-in. The Space Ghost on Coast to Coast, at least in my fabled continuity, isn't the real Space Ghost. He's a television actor portraying the famous hero in some kind of comedy talk show. You don't even need to go into a terrible lot of detail to explain away eight seasons of this garbage. One issue of a Space Ghost monthly comic could feature the actor under attack by a confused criminal, who gets soundly stomped by the real Space Ghost, and everyone lives happily every after.

Because pretending the bad stuff doesn't exist is just way too easy.
"What about Jan and Jace and that ridiculous fleabag they drag around with them? Nobody liked those guys!"

His name is Blip. And he's a monkey. And moreso, even those characters have an untapped wealth of potential. They're Space Ghost's adopted children for crying out loud. Living your entire life with Space Ghost and not picking up any tricks or tools of the trade would be like living with Batman and never donning that flashy Robin costume that only ever made sense for Dick Grayson because it was his circus uniform but let's not go into that. Jan and Jace are competent heroes on their own, and do possess limited versions of Space Ghost's own abilities. While they can't fire heat rays or ice beams or project stasis shields, they can become invisible, fly, and have a certain degree of demonstrated super strength.

Of course, we can't have them mucking around with Space Ghost all the time. Just like how Batman needs to ditch his younglings and do the dark and gritty, Space Ghost needs room to not be a cheesy Hanna-Barbera character. So what exactly do we do with the twins?

Don't we have a team composed largely of teenage versions of the big time superheroes? Don't we have two teams like that? Weren't they both on TV? Isn't one of them airing new episodes this damn season? Oh yeah, yeah, those are things. All you have to do to legitimize Jan and Jace without having them ruin Space Ghost is drop them into the Teen Titans. That works like a freaking charm.

Look, Jace, we don't shit all over our title character anymore!
Blip becomes a comedy relief character who lives in Titans Tower and never, ever, under any circumstances leaves. And maybe you want to diversify things because having two characters with the same powers in the same book is taking up too much super roster? They get into an argument and Jace storms off to join Young Justice or the Outlaws. Problem beyond solved, characters awesomely developed, and Space Ghost no longer locked into being child friendly.

And luckily DC just had one of their famous "oops, we fucked up the universe again" events that could make all of this more than possible. Flashpoint reset events in the DC universe to a point where "only the shit we did well happened. Everything else didn't. So just... forget about it." If DC ever wanted to introduce any of their (or their parent company's) other potential IPs into the mainstream, now would be the time.

And isn't that what DC has been good at since the very beginning anyways? Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, The Question, even the Green Lantern were all characters who were ate some point purchased by a different company and then integrated into the main DC continuity. This has been how DC has operated since the very beginning, and there's absolutely no reason for them to stop now. Especially when they have so much potential sitting in their own filing cabinets.

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