As Desaad targets Power Girl and Huntress this summer, Worlds' Finest becomes one of multiple DC comics featuring characters from Apokolips known as the "New Gods."
But according to Worlds' Finest writer Paul Levitz, that Apokolip-tic influence is part of the grand plan for the future at DC. And obviously, readers should keep their eyes open for connections between the characters as DC's titles head toward September's as-yet-unconfirmed Villain event.
Worlds' Finest follows the adventures of two heroes that were thrust unwillingly into the DCU's main earth, taken away from their alternate world (known to readers as "Earth 2"). While the two displaced heroes, known now as Huntress and Power Girl, are hoping to return home, they're also defining their new role as part of the New 52.
On Earth 2, the characters were known as Robin (Huntress) and Supergirl (Power Girl), and since they've been on the main DCU Earth, they've had a few opportunities to bump against alternate versions of the families they left behind. Most notable was the team-up of Damian Wayne and Huntress (both children of alternate versions of Bruce Wayne), and the current appearance by Power Girl within the pages of Supergirl (uniting alternate versions of the Kryptonian).
But in the current storyline of Worlds' Finest, the girls have their hands full as Desaad has targeted their lives for destruction, beginning a summer storyline that is sure to culminate in the expected villain's spotlight in September.
This summer also sees a newcomer to the creative team on Worlds' Finest, as female Italian artist Emanuela Lupacchino comes on board in August (check out three pages of exclusive interior art here). Levitz seems impressed enough by the artist's work to voice hopes that she sticks around, and DC Comics has shared some of her artwork for us to showcase here.
Levitz is also finishing up his writing gig on Legion of Super-Heroes, the comic he's been guiding since 2010 (even through the DC relaunch). The writer is a legend among Legion fans for his runs on the book in the '70s and '80s, but even his fans' loyalty couldn't save the comic from cancelation this time around, as it's scheduled to end in August.
But the former DC publisher is plenty busy, teaching and writing while pitching more comic books. And this summer sees the release of the "Silver Age" volume of his new five-book series about the history of DC Comics. The series from publisher Taschen Books is a re-release of Levitz's enormous 2010 book, 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making, but this time it's divided into five smaller hardcovers with extra material.
In this first part of our interview with the writer, Newsarama asked about what's coming up in Worlds' Finest, and Levitz hinted that there's a grand plan for all these visitors from Apokolips.
Newsarama: Paul, the last issue really changed Karen's status quo, taking away her celebrity and the fun she's had with her alter ego.
Paul Levitz: Yeah, she seems to be having some challenges with all of that. She's a pretty tough gal, so she may find her way back to it. But it's never good to have a god pissed at you.
Nrama: It looks like it's all because of Desaad, and he's the focus of the storyline this summer in World's Finest. What appealed to you as a writer about this villain?
Levitz: Some of it has to do with the way DC is shaping their master plans for the universe. At some point they asked, could this fit with what you're doing?
Part of it, in terms of my interest, goes back to having been in love with Jack's New Gods material when it first came out. That was the most exciting thing happening at the moment when I was in the fanzine racquet. I vividly remember standing by Carol Fein's desk — Carol was sort of DC's equivalent to Flo Steinberg over the years, in terms of energy and personality — in 1970, or maybe '71 or '72, and she was the one who would receive the packages from Jack on the West Coast for Carmine [Infantino, DC's publisher at the time]. And I wanted to read the issues to write them up for my fanzine, and just sort of stood looking over her shoulder, seeing all the cool stuff as it was coming in.
I thought, then and now, that the work Jack was doing in that period was precedent shattering. So I've always been happy to go play with his toys.
Nrama: What does it bring to this comic right now, particularly with the changes he's bringing into Karen and Helena's life?
Levitz: Much of the emotional dynamic of Worlds' Finest has to do with these two women being separated from the world they were born into, and their different reactions to that.
And as we'll play out the story of Desaad over the next few issues — and it you'll see Desaad get a little more time of his own — you will see his reaction to not being in a world that is his own.
Also, it's just enormous fun as you think about Desaad as an individual villain. In the years when Jack was doing him, the kind of evil you could do in comics was fairly limited. The assumption was that comics were for kids, and it was a very clean environment. And yet Jack chose to name a character after the Marquis de Sade.
So it was a really interesting thing to be able to begin to explore what kind of behavior this character would have in this world, and to figure out how to fit those pieces together.
Nrama: I know characters from Apokolips are playing a role in other comics during the next few months, as is Earth 2. Are the concepts between these different comics linked? And will that play a part in your comic as the women try to find their way home to Earth 2?
Levitz: I think the editors are busy working on a master plan for how a number of things will come together in a fairly dramatic fashion over the next couple of years.
The nice thing about Worlds' Finest is that we get a front row seat to participate in all that. And many things are being put into place that will pay off over time.
Nrama: I thought it was really interesting to hear Karen talk about how hidden she was from the world when she was younger, on Earth 2. She liked being a celebrity on the New 52 Earth. Now that she's back in hiding, how do the recent events affect her character?
Levitz: She's got a lot of drama going on in her life — the loss of the celebrity, the loss of her confidante, her home and her base of operations. And she's been going through some pretty strange things with her own powers, as well, since arriving on this earth. And there are some open-ended questions about what's going on with all of that.
So you have a young woman who has, for all the dramas she's gone through up until now, really been enjoying life a lot. And it will be interesting to see what effect on her personality not winning in such dramatic ways has.
Nrama: We're finally seeing Power Girl interact with the other Kryptonians in the DCU. How much does her appearance in Supergirl tie into Worlds' Finest?
Levitz: It's the justification for the costume change. There's a logic that goes on in the Supergirl story for that.
And certainly one of the important story threads that we're going to deal with in the long run is this issue of Kara's relationship with the other Kryptonians in the world.
It's an interesting dynamic. She didn't like being a secret, so she's come out enormously, publicly, as a civilian. But she's still been keeping, in some ways, her superhero identity secret, at least the most relevant part of it that relates to all these other quasi-family members.
Over the course of the next six months or less, we should see that play out in some interesting ways, some of which the Supergirl story starts, and some of which has been cooking in Worlds' Finest. Hopefully it all comes together over time.
Nrama: We saw Huntress and her other-world half-brother Damian together quite a bit. Will we see more interaction between Huntress and the folks in Batman's world?
Levitz: I'm sure we will ultimately. We've spent a lot of time on that in the last few months, so we've got a little more attention on Power Girl coming up.
Nrama: There's a new artist with issue #15. Is she going to be on the book going forward?
Levitz: There's a young lady from Italy, Emanuela Lupacchino, who's doing #15. The pages I've seen have been quite lovely. So I'm hoping she'll be able to stay around and they'll work that out.
Nrama: What do you want to tell people about what's coming up on Worlds' Finest going forward?
Levitz: There's something coming up in September that I don't know if we can talk about yet, and I'm very pleased with the way that story turned out.
You'll see in Worlds' Finest, in the presence of Desaad, both in the revelations about him and in his relationship with the two heroines, you'll see a certain amount of superhero equivalent of the "Lucifer falling to Earth" story. What would the devil do if he landed here and was stuck? What would his idea of fun be?
And I think that's an enjoyable thing to play around with, and it hopefully makes some very good story material.
And I think the gals are going to continue to have a fairly challenging life on this world, separated from where they ought to be, and that's going to be a continuing series of battle as they go through this year. As you would expect, 2013 is not an easy year for them. Lots of stuff keeps going wrong. Villains keep showing up, monsters keep showing up on their doorstep looking to collect them, and the scale has gone up.
The other thing that, hopefully, I've been able to do effectively, is a lot of the pieces that have been threaded in the book since the very first issue begin to connect together in ways where you'll see how some of them fit together over the next few months.
Check back soon on Newsarama as we talk to Levitz about his five-part series on the history of DC Comics, as well as the end of his run on Legion of Super-Heroes.