Levitz and Giffen might sound like a familiar team on Legion of Super-Heroes, but what's coming from their reunion will likely be anything but familiar.
"With Keith and I working together, it's always a challenge to guess what's going to happen," Paul Levitz said.
For long-time fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the run by Levitz and Giffen is cherished and legendary. But in February, when the two creators will reunite on the Legion of Super-Heroes, neither wants to merely "do what they did before."
In fact, when the two debut on the ongoing series with Legion of Super-Heroes #17, readers can expect some sparks to fly.
Although Levitz has been writing the series since before its relaunch last year, the writer admits that Giffen isn't just a penciler on the series -- at least not in the traditional sense. The two tend to push back and forth on where the story is going, including who lives, who dies, what the technology looks like and where the story ends up.
Newsarama talked to Levitz to find out how he works with his long-time collaborator and how the addition of Giffen is going to shake things up.
Newsarama: Paul, it's exciting to hear that you're back working with Keith Giffen on Legion of Super-Heroes. Is that going to change the dynamic of the book and bring a new direction to the comic?
Paul Levitz: Keith is always one of the most fertile creative minds running around comics, so I'm sure there will be a process where he'll have some interesting ideas. And some of them will make it into the books.
So I'm not ever entirely sure where things will lead in a situation like that! But it should be more fun.
Nrama: It sounds like the creative process between you guys is a little bit of give and take, back and forth.
Levitz: All really good collaborations in comics have a certain dimension of playing, "Can you top this?" with each other.
Nrama: A lot of the people who loyally and faithfully read the Legion books are long-time fans, and there's an attraction for them to a reunion of Levitz and Giffen. But does this indicate you'll be also returning things to the way you did them before?
Levitz: I don't think you can return to that. We're not the same people we were 30 years ago. Comics aren't the same place they were 30 years ago. That was a wonderful moment, and some of it is in some lovely book editions that you can go back to and thumb through.
But if you want to accomplish something, you've got to be writing and drawing in the moment that you're in now.
Nrama: DC has been marketing the return of the Fatal Five when Keith comes on board. But this is a New 52 revamp of the Fatal Five, right?
Levitz: Yeah. We've been planting pieces for the last six or eight months for this story. Some of it has been kicking around in our heads for awhile. But you've seen in recent issues of Legion, we have a different beginning for the Tharok character, for example.
The core logic that we're exploring here is the idea that in the mythology of the Legion as it stands in the DC universe, there has been a Fatal Five at some point, and the Legionnaires in fact have had run-ins with some of the members. But the Fatal Five we're going to see is a new union that the Legion has never faced before.
Nrama: What kind of a challenge is this encounter with the Fatal Five going to be for to the team?
Levitz: Well, some of it we'll have to see as it evolves. But part of it is that you have a level of opposition here that is different from what they've faced before. We've really only done, in the new DCU incarnation, you've had alien race opposition, but you haven't had enormously powerful villains involved. You've got a different level there. And part of what goes on in this storyline really is fundamental in terms of its effect on the overall universe of the future and how it works. It's kind of like "what would happen if you actually pulled the plug on something?"
Nrama: And we'll see the election results coming up?
Levitz: Yes, we had a good old-fashioned snail mail election, that just closed a couple weeks ago. The results haven't been posted yet.
Nrama: But we'll find out about it in an upcoming issue?
Levitz: Of course!
Nrama: I know you've been working with Scott Kolins the last couple issues, but you've got a pretty cool issue coming up with Francis Portela about the Barcelona of the future?
Levitz: Yeah, Scott jumped in for a couple issues to buy Keith some time to get started on a regular schedule. And then Francis Portela drew this wonderfully beautiful issue.
Nrama: Issue #15?
Levitz: Yes. When I had lunch with Francis, when he was in New York visiting some time back -- I think it was New York Comic Con last year -- I said, well, you live in Barcelona. Could we figure out what Barcelona looks like in the 31st Century?
And he stroked his chin a little bit and said, "Well you know the Gaudi designed cathedral that is our landmark? The legend is that will never stop being built. So what if that's the whole city by the 31st Century?"
Nrama: Very cool. You can see it in the background on the cover. So it's been built for 10 centuries?
Levitz: Yep. And the issue's driven around a moment when Glorith either sleepwalks or is summoned out of her quarters, and shows up being burned as a witch in the middle of Barcelona. And we continue to build the mysteries that surround her for ultimate revelation.
Nrama: That takes you through the end of 2012 and into 2013. In February, we'll see Keith come on board. Can you describe what you'll be trying to do next year with the Legion? And what kind of changes the book might undergo when you take over?
Levitz: Well, a lot of it is going to depend on what evolves during the collaboration. And with Keith and I working together, it's always a challenge to guess what's going to happen 60 or 90 days out. Both of our ideas tend to change pretty radically as we're working. He'll come up with something, I'll twist it around, he'll come up with a different alternate version of that in the pencils, I'll write something over his pencils that isn't the story I originally had in mind and isn't the story he originally had in mind, but is transformative in one way or another.
It's a lot of fun.
Nrama: I'm sure it's a renewal of all the things that were great about working together, yet a renewal of some of the things that are challenging. But when writing the Legion, which has been around for so long, it's probably good to have a little challenge in there.
Levitz: It's always more fun when you're working with an artist who has things to say.
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