What If… Bruce Timm Designed the New 52?

by Cap'n Carrot on April 27, 2012 · 20 comments

in Comics!

I think we can all agree DC Comics New 52 has been a mixed success, at best. There are several reasons for this including the choice of characters and titles not included in the reboot, the vast difference in how much of each character’s history was rebooted compared to others, and odd yearning to recapture the style and gritty feel of the 1990’s.

No one is more responsible (or more to blame, depending on your perspective) than artist Jim Lee. Lee’s redesign of each member of the Justice League set the standard for the style of the New 52. But what if DC had decided to go in a different direction? What if, instead of Lee’s 90’s-inspired grittiness, DC had decided to allow Bruce Timm (the man largely responsible for the look of DC Animation for the better part of two decades) to redesign the DCU? Here’s what that much more vibrant, joyous, sultry, and kick-ass DCU might have looked like. I give you Bruce Timm’s New 32.

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  • L J Wright

    I am a mom who hasn’t read comics in a looong time. But I might read some of these! They look great! (I love the Bruce Timm cartoons.)

  • Jonathan

    … I forgot how much I miss Bruce Timm’s art style …

  • Guy McLimore

    Not to say I don’t like a lot f what Jim Lee did with the New 52… But OMG — would I have loved to see this! The DCAU remains my favorite version of the DC Universe. I wanted to LIVE there! Thanks so much for this!

  • Action Man

    I would’ve replaced The Spirit with Action Comics since The Spirit isn’t really part of the DCU proper. And seriously, how could you leave out the first published comic book series in the history of comics?

    • Cap’n Carrot

      This isn’t an all-inclusive list (you’ll notice there are not 52 comics), I simply ran out of time. Could I have done another Superman title and thrown Action on the list? Yeah, but honestly I’d rather read The Spirit.

  • GL Fan 2814

    I’m going to have to disagree with this article. The new 52 comic books and DCAU look at two different age markets, and this is for good reason. The DCAU is marketed more towards young kids (not to say that many adults, like myself, don’t enjoy the DCAU. I am a huge fan of the justice league cartoon) while the new 52 comics are marketed more towards teenagers and young adults. You’d probably have no problem letting your 10 year old kids watch the justice league cartoon but you probably wouldn’t let them read the new 52 green lantern or batman comics. You want to keep these markets separate so that there is an appropriate market for each age group. I also have to disagree with your opening statement that the new 52 has been a “mixed success”. The new 52 as a whole has been very successful especially with the beginning issues, sure there have been a few that didn’t do well, but that will be the case with any large launch. Chances are, if you walked into any comic shop and asked comic fans (which is who comics should be marketed towards) who they would rather have designing their comics, Bruce Timm or Jim Lee, Jim Lee is going to win hands down.

    • Fantomex

      Also agreeing with you, although I love the covers and have already Facebook-faved them. I think that kids should wait a little while before the get into superheroes anyway; there’a whole lot of stuff for them to read comic book-wise, including My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the new Ritchie Rich books, Kung Fu Panda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Archie books, etc.

  • Someone

    Wow, a lot of these look a lot worse than their official counterparts (just as much as there are that look better.) I guess it proves that no one look should define so much work, especially when the work can get different from itself.

  • Drew Collie

    You know..for someone who claims to be keeping up w/ the times sure aren’t getting the big picture. That company has already given you your precious DCAU in comic book format, JLU, JL Adventures, Teen Titans Go, and to top all that, they already gave you the revival of Batman Beyond & countless of Batman titles.

    You already got what you wanted….don’t be greedy.

  • Cap’n Carrot

    Sorry, I don’t see what one has to do with the other.

    My point wasn’t that we haven’t gotten some great Timm-inspired work. We have, much of it very good. However, none of it has been in the mainstream DCU.

    My point, which you obviously missed (despite being the title and sole focus of this post) was how different might the current main DC comic landscape look if Timm’s stylistic influences rather than those of Jim Lee had been chosen to reshape the DCU (not in television, not in a separate comic universe for young readers, but in the actual New 52).

    I would have rather seen a New 52 which had taken his much more mainstream influence that respected the existing origins of characters no matter how bizarre (such as how JLU dealt with B’wana Beast) and ran with it instead of the far darker, grittier, and sluttier versions we’ve seen instead (if you want an example look no further than Harley Quinn). And, as I will freely admit, I frankly love his art style and would put it up against Lee’s, or any other current DC artist, any day of the week.

    You don’t have to agree with me, but I think it’s pretty damn obvious that I “haven’t already got what I wanted.” Not by a long shot.

    • Brad

      Didn’t Harley Quinn start in Bruce Timm’s work?

    • Fantomex

      Maybe you haven’t but the rest of us (who are much older, have longer attention spans, and would support most titles like these better than the kids that you think should be supported by these books/covers) are.

  • John Derham

    What the fuck yo? Why is some random bitch on the cover of All-Star Western and not Jonah Hex? You don’t deserve to exist.

  • G. Well

    Love Bruce Timm. I would definitely be reading these titles. Nice job!

  • Kon Krypton

    As a (confessed) fan of Jim Lee’s art and of the new 52, my initial reaction is that these look too cartoony. I read Batman because I *want* the gritty art and story. While I love Timm’s art and his cartoons very much, I don’t think the tone that this art brings with it is appropriate for a modern comic. If you want funny-looking characters, Archie is still being published.

  • fallbrigade

    If only there still were a Zatanna series… :(

  • http://BlueMonkeysFromMarz.com Sean

    I think you’re on to something here. Bruce Timm, Shane Glines, and Darwyn Cooke should just design everything.

    Too bad DC doesn’t take someone like Timm and give him the ranes for their movies. If there has been anyone in the last 20 years who’s demonstrated that he “gets” every single character it is Bruce Timm. He should be the guy in charge. Much like Joss Whedon.

  • http://savingwonderwoman.wordpress.com fussy

    This is exactly what needed to happen. Not that the DCU should become the DCAU at all, but that a great DESIGNER should be the architect of fashion in the DCU. Jim Lee is a fine artist, but his character designs are faddy and needlessly busy. All the piping, superfluous line-work, extra accoutrements and such are ghastly and straight up 1990s fare. Simple cartoonists who do great work like Timm are masters at this. They distill the look down to it’s core and go with it. Any artist can follow the design without making it look ridiculous. Look at Cooke’s Catwoman and his Wonder Woman design from New Frontier, and see how classic and built for the long haul they are. Lee’s designs are not the kind that hold up well. They are like leg-warmers and Timm’s are the Little Black Dress.

  • http://www.theroarbots.com Jamie

    I would buy each and every one of these. Regarding the comment above about how DCAU targets a younger demographic, that’s just untrue. Alan Burnett was just on the Nerdist Writer’s Panel, and he acknowledged that more than 2/3 of their audience is composed of “adult fanboys.” There is just VERY LITTLE out there from the Big 2 that actually and genuinely target young kids. Shame.

  • Eben Fox

    I’d still be reading DC if this had happened.

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