So, of course if you wanted to use any of the public domain characters, you can set them in the world outside your window (or, if you’re doing a period piece, the world that would have outside your window 80 or so years ago). But some Web surfing I’ve done pointed out some new possibilities to me.
Everyone knows what Cyberpunk is, and Steampunk has become nearly as well known (and I mentioned in another thread that Dynamite has put several classic characters in a Steampunk setting in the miniseries Legenderry, and it worked well). However, there are other settings derived from this Cyberpunk/Steampunk formula, and some of them seem tailor-made to the use of GA comic book heroes. From Wikipedia:
“Dieselpunk is an art style based on the aesthetics popular between World War I and the end of World War II. The style combines the artistic and genre influences of the period (including pulp magazines, serial films, film noir, art deco, and wartime pin-ups) with postmodern technology and sensibilities. First coined in 2001 as a marketing term by game designer Lewis Pollak to describe his role-playing game Children of the Sun, dieselpunk has grown to describe a distinct style of visual art, music, motion pictures, fiction, and engineering. Examples include Rocketeer, The Legend of Korra, Crimson Skies, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Dark City, Greed Corp, Gatling Gears, Bioshock, Iron Sky, K-20: Legend of the Mask and Skullgirls.
“Decopunk is a recent subset of Dieselpunk, centered around the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne art styles, and based around the period between the 1920s and 1950s. In an interview at CoyoteCon, steampunk author Sara M. Harvey made the distinctions "...shinier than DieselPunk, more like DecoPunk." and "DieselPunk is a gritty version of Steampunk set in the 1920s–1950s. The big war eras, specifically. DecoPunk is the sleek, shiny very Art Deco version; same time period, but everything is chrome!" Its fandom arose around 2008.
“Atompunk relates to the pre-digital period of 1945–1965, including mid-century Modernism, the Atomic Age and Space Age, Communism and concern about it exaggerated as paranoia in the USA along with Neo-Soviet styling, underground cinema, Googie architecture, the Sputnik programme, superhero fiction, the rise of the US military/industrial powers and the fall-out of Chernobyl. Its aesthetic tends toward Populuxe and Raygun Gothic, which describe a retro-futuristic vision of the world. Among the most notable examples is the Fallout video game series.”
Dieselpunk/Decopunk both list pulp magazines and movie serials as influences, and the early comics were SO close in feel to the pulps and serials that it would be absurd not to include them in the mix. DC’s late, lamented “First Wave” line certainly had a Decopunk vibe, with its modern technology existing with Art Deco skylines, cars sporting running boards, and airships. ABC’s Tom Strong was also set in a solidly Decopunk world. This just seemed so natural with these kinds of characters that I didn’t realize it at the time (nor did I know that it was part of the whole “…punk” movement). And as for Atompunk, that was based on characters like Star Pirate, Major Mars, and Jet Powers! Rather than trying to update Buzz Crandall to be more like a modern scifi tale (Star Trek, Babylon 5, whatever), just embrace the whole Retro-future vibe and run with it! You’ll actually wind up being in a new “cool” genre…