A couple of months ago, DC Comics announced at ComicsPro that it will publish three manga series originally published by Kodansha and only released in Japan. The three manga series will be serialized chapter by chapter on the DC Universe Infinite digital platform and then DC Comics will collect them together and sell print editions for each manga series. The print volumes will all be available on September 5, 2023.
The first title is Joker: One Operation Joker delivered by Satoshi Miyagawa and Keisuke Gotou. This is the series where Joker is the single father to a baby Batman. This series is at two volumes and counting in Japan.
The second title is Batman: Justice Buster by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi who are the creative team on the current Ultraman manga. This is the series where Batman employs a computer system named ROBIN to analyze the latest crime wave in Gotham and squelch it. This series is at two volumes and counting in Japan.
The third title is Superman vs. Meshi by Miyagawa and Kai Kitago. This is a foodie manga where Superman eats at different restaurants for lunch. This sounds absolutely brilliant! This series is already finished with three volumes in total.
Since this news broke, over the past several months, I have been thinking about what it would look like if DC Comics licensed more of their characters out to the amazing mangaka in Japan. There is no doubt that the current market is utterly dominated by manga. American superhero comics continue to become increasingly insignificant in the monthly graphic novels sales charts. Japanese mangaka have been able to connect with the American audience in a way that has eluded the American creative teams for Marvel Comics and DC Comics.
There is also the problem that DC Comics is teetering on the edge of irrelevancy. Ever since the NEw 52 debacle, DC Comics has been scrambling from one half-baked plan to save their comic books to another. With each month’s single-issue sales numbers, DC Comics continues to be a relative non-factor in the battle against Marvel Comics. There is always speculation that WB Discovery could shut down DC Comics if it does not return to profitability and sustained sales success. There is also always speculation about DC Comics licensing their characters to another publisher.
Well, perhaps DC Comics bringing over some of their licensed manga titles is the first sign that DC Comics may pursue more Japanese mangaka to breathe life and popularity into their moribund franchises. If DC Comics cannot get editors and writers in the United States to have sales success with the various DC Comics franchises then maybe licensing the DC characters to a Japanese publisher makes sense. It would definitely cut costs for DC Comics and there is no doubt that manga is white hot.
While DC Comics has already partnered with Kodansha, let’s imagine a world where Shueisha gets into the bidding and ponies up the most money for the licensing rights to the DC Comics characters. This is not unrealistic since Shueisha is the world’s largest manga publisher and would have the cash to pay WB Discovery the licensing fees to acquire the DCU characters.
Now it is time to play the fun game of matching the various mangaka from Shueisha up with a corresponding DCU franchise. There are so many incredible options. And I am sure that many of you are probably going to think of some different pairings than mine. However, I tried to pick the ten DC Comics franchises that best matched the mangaka. Here we go!
Lobo by Yoshifumi Tozuka
Lobo is crazy, rude, and raunchy. Lobo is also nigh impossible to kill. Do you know who this reminds me of? Andy from Undead Unlock! A Lobo title would be the perfect match for Tozuka. Undead Unlock delivers a crude, outrageous, and funny action hero in Andy. Tozuka’s Lobo comic would be a classic comedy adventure story. Tozuka has a great understanding of quality action and has the ability to deliver humorous lines and gags. Additionally, Tozuka’s artwork would complement Lobo’s character perfectly. With Tozuka’s skills, there is no doubt that he would be able to design a cool-looking Lobo.
The bloody and graphic fight scenes in Undead Unlock complement Andy’s ability to be unkillable. This trait aligns perfectly with Lobo’s near invincibility and his usual blood-filled fights. Tozuka would have the opportunity to go all out, delivering over-the-top fight scenes.
Shazam by Hajime Komoto
Mashle: Magic and Muscles, a series by Komoto, offers a delightful blend of comedy, action, and adventure, with a strong focus on friendship. The story revolves around a group of young characters, much like the beloved Shazam family. Mash’s protagonist is incredibly powerful but has a refreshingly simple perspective on life.
Komoto could channel this same approach with Billy Batson, the similarly overpowered main character of the Shazam family. Komodo can support Billy with the rest of the Marvel Family for that classic dose of friendship and teamwork. But, make no mistake, just like Mash, Billy will be this manga’s main character and driving force.
In Mashle: Magic and Muscles, Komoto is able to deliver wonderful fight scenes that employ good fight psychology and deliver strong character work at the same time. There is no doubt that the fight scenes are a vital component of the manga, but it is the characters that remain the heart of the story. This same approach should be a perfect match for the Shazam family.
Komoto has the chops to deliver fantastic action scenes. Komoto also excels at creating unique character designs. I would love to see Komoto bring his sense of style to the designs of the members of the Shazam family. I am also confident that Komoto would be able to deliver a Shazam title with excellent fight scenes.
Kirby’s Fourth World by One/Yusuke Murata
I would want One to be able to go crazy with a massive roster of Fourth World characters just like he does with the Hero Association in One Punch Man. In this series, Orion should be the protagonist. One’s excellent handling of Saitama’s character proves that he would be able to write Orion just as well. Orion, like Saitama, is incredibly powerful but straightforward. Although Orion is more on the angry side, One could use this to make the Fourth World title stand out even more. It would be exciting to see One write a protagonist who is more aggressive, angry, and violent, which is different from his usual protagonists like Saitama or Mob.
On the hero side, One should bring in High Father, Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Lightray, Oberon, Metron, Bekka, Infinity-Man, and Jezebel. Then One could bring in Darkseid, Brimstone, DeSaad, Amazing Grace, Doctor Bedlam, Mantis, Kalibak, Glorius Godfrey, Mortalla, Stepphenwolf, Kanto, Devilance, Granny Goodness and all of her Female Furies on the bad guy side.
Just like in One Punch Man, the villains need to outnumber the heroes. Plus, this will give Orion tons of villains to plow through in the style that only One can deliver. This Fourth World title should be action-heavy. I am not looking for a story that is going to be a boring Tom King-style narrative like what we got with King’s Mister Miracle.
Murata is the perfect artist for a Fourth World title. Murata is one of the best artists in either manga or American comics. There is no doubt that Murata has the chops to deliver breathtaking cosmic fight scenes. Murata will also be able to deliver the unique Fourth World characters in a vivid fashion.
Green Lantern by Naoya Matsumoto
Matsumoto’s work on Kaiju No. 8 leans heavily on teamwork, a military-style team of super-powered heroes, Science Fiction themes, and lots of action. So, what DC franchise would be a great fit for Matsumoto? Green Lantern! Matsumoto would be in charge of a Green Lantern title that would star a young Hal Jordan as the main character. Hal would be surrounded by a cast of more experienced Green Lanterns who would consist of Sinestro, Kilowog, Arisia Rrab, and Tomar-Re.
In Kaiju No. 8, Matsumoto has excelled in handling the Defense Force in Kaiju No. 8 which is tasked with taking on Kaiju threats. There is no doubt that Matsumoto could do the same with the Green Lantern Corps taking on various alien threats. Teamwork is a vital element of Kaiju No. 8 which would also translate well to a Green Lantern title.
This title would be heavy on action which is right up Matsumoto’s alley. Hal’s youthful test pilot character full of cocky cowboy tendencies should provide Matsumoto a nice avenue for his usual comedy that lightens up his intense action scenes.
Matsumoto’s slick artwork would lend perfectly to a cosmic Green Lantern story full of Sci-Fi technology and interesting-looking aliens. There is no doubt that Matsumoto is a phenomenal artwork and his skills align wonderfully with a Green Lantern comic. I can imagine now the incredible hero shots that Matsumoto would deliver of Hal Jordan kicking ass.
Creature Commandos by Gege Akutami
Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen is full of bizarre demons and monsters and delivers badass action scenes. So, what DC franchise would be a nice match for Akutami? The Creature Commandos! The team would consist of Frankenstein, Vincent Velcoro (Vampire), Warren Griffith (Werewolf), The Bogman (Gill-Man), Khalis (Mummy), and Dr. Medusa (Gorgon).
This title would lean into the bizarre and the weird as this eclectic team of monsters would go up against bad guys in bloody battles. Akutami’s imagination should be able to spin up a wild and fun adventure for this team. Akutami’s artwork is also a good match for a monster title that focuses on violent action scenes.
Batman by Yuto Suzuki
Suzuki’s Sakamoto Days focuses on a family of assassins from the Japanese Association of Assassins who have to battle other assassins and killers who want to destroy the JAA. Hmmm, what DC franchise would match up well with this? The Batman franchise!
Suzuki’s Batman title would star Bruce Wayne and the supporting characters would be Alfred, Damien Wayne as Robin, Jason Todd as Red Hood, and Cassandra Cain. Our team of heroes would go up against the League of Assassins and Ra’s al Ghul and Talia al Ghul. The way Suzuki writes the always calm, calm, and collected Sakamoto who seems like an unstoppable force of nature rather than a man would fit perfectly for Bruce Wayne’s character. However, the character I would be most intrigued to see how Suzuki writes? Jason Todd. I think Suzuki would love Todd’s character and deliver a compelling version.
Suzuki is able to crank out cool action scenes with the same skill as he can deliver quality character moments, strong chemistry between the heroes, and great comedy. This should play well with the Batman family characters in this title. Suzuki should be able to create excellent chemistry between the Batman family characters and deliver the wonderful moments of comedy and bickering that we love between these characters. At the same time, Suzuki will also be able to entertain the reader with intense action scenes.
What makes Suzuki so special is that he can easily shift from fun comedy scenes into deadly and brutal fight scenes. The shift is never jarring or feels tone-deaf. This should apply well to a Batman title that will have some lighter moments to break up the intense fight scenes where it feels like any character could die at any moment.
Titans by Akira Toriyama/Toyotarou
The incredible team of Toriyama and Toyotarou from Dragon Ball Super would make for an ideal team to tackle a Titans title. Toriyama has always focused on a team of heroes who are one big family. This plays well with the Titans who have always been presented as more of a family than a superhero team.
The roster will include the Nightwing, Wally West, Beast Boy, Donna Troy, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, Tempest, Roy Harper, Connor Kent, Cassandra Sandsmark, and Miss Martian. I like the blend of the original Titans with some of the Geoff Johns Titans. This takes the most popular members in Titans’ history and puts them together.
Toriyama excels at writing action-heavy stories and this Titans story will also be action-forward. However, Toriyama also understands how to craft likable characters and a strong family dynamic. I would love to see how Toriyama would handle the interpersonal relationships between our family of Titans characters.
Toyotarou is a talented artist who would be able to deliver a wonderful-looking Titans comic. This would certainly be a dynamic-looking Titans title with plenty of entertaining fight scenes.
Justice League Dark by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man has shown that Fujimoto knows how to deliver creepy supernatural monsters, intense psychological moments, and badass action scenes. So, what DC franchise would I pair Fujimoto with? Justice League Dark! The roster for this comic would include Zatanna, Constantine, Deadman, Demon, Detective Chimp, and Madame Xanadu.
Justice League Dark would allow Fujimoto to explore the darker supernatural side of the DCU. Fujimoto works best when left to his own devices and a Justice League Dark title would allow him to employ more niche characters and give him more freedom than he would have with bigger name characters.
Fujimoto’s Justice League Dark title would also need to be a Black Label title in order to allow Fujimoto to write a more adult-themed story. This should free up Fujimoto to deliver his usual gory and chilling stories.
Wonder Woman by Tatsuya Endo
The magic of Endo’s Spy x Family is the incredible character work and the dynamic between Loid Forger and Yor Forger. Endo is able to generate phenomenal chemistry between Lord and Yor and easily makes the reader love both characters. The tension between Lord and Yor is well played as Endo teases a deeper attraction between the two characters while still keeping them apart in order to keep that tension in the reader who wants to see the two characters together.
The DC Comics franchise that I would give Endo? Wonder Woman! This title would star Diana and Steve Trevor working for the government in their roles as special agents. Endo would be able to deliver an incredibly cool and suave Steve Trevor who is a master espionage operative. Endo would be able to create a sweet and loving Wonder Woman who is capable of morphing into a fearsome demon during a battle much like the Thorn Princess. Endo would be able to nail the humor and the comedy and the general sweetness that would exist with the pairing of Diana and Steve.
Endo’s artwork would also be a perfect match for a Wonder Woman title. Endo’s biggest strength is his incredible facial expressions and ability to breathe life into a story. Having said that, Endo is also capable of delivering action scenes. I would like to see Endo take the same approach to Wonder Woman in battle that he does with Yor. When Yor is in her Thorn Princess form she fights like a ballerina of death. I would love to see Endo give Wonder Woman the same beautiful and graceful style of fighting that would set her apart from your typical superhero.
Legion of Super-Heroes by Kohei Horikoshi
I saved my all-time favorite DC Comics franchise for last! Horikoshi has shown on My Hero Academia that he knows how to juggle a massive roster of characters. Add to that the youthful nature of the students at UA and the incredibly distinct and unique powers and you have a story that is remarkably similar to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Horikoshi is just about the only creator who would not be fazed at all by the intimidating size of the Legion’s roster. Horikoshi would eagerly use the entire Legion roster and be able to create multiple story arcs employing various teams of Legionnaires. There is no doubt that Horikoshi would be like a kid in the candy store as he would be able to mix and match various combinations of Legionnaires for his different plot lines.
I also believe that Horikoshi would truly understand the Legion’s core tenants that make the franchise so special. Horikoshi would lean into the Legion being a franchise that is positive and bright. Horikishi would understand that the chemistry between the Legionnaires is the secret sauce of the franchise. That action and adventure that focuses on fun superhero stories is the heart of the franchise.
I would love to see Horikoshi assembling a massive roster of villains much like he has in My Hero Academia. An ultimate team-up of the Fatal Five and the Legion of Super-Villains working together under the leadership of an ultimate big bad like Mordru or Darkseid would be fantastic.
Horikoshi has a phenomenal imagination and knows how to construct entertaining action scenes. This should play well with a Legion of Super-Heroes comic. Also, the fact that Horikoshi genuinely loves the superhero genre will make him a perfect fit for the Legion.
All right, that is all I got. I love the DC Comics characters and I adore manga. So, I would love to see the talented mangaka in Japan get more opportunities to write DC Comics stories. Let’s hope that we continue to get more DC Comics manga titles in the future!