In August, the current Legion of Super-Heroes comic will have its final issue, giving the on-again, off-again team of young future heroes yet another ending point for their story.
But according to the current writer — legendary Legion creator Paul Levitz — the final issue's conclusion will also give readers something to "think" about. Combine that with DC's promise that the issue "questions the true nature of the Legion," and it's looking like DC's future is heading in a different direction.
What will happen to the 31st Century at the end of this run? If these Legion stories did take place in the future of the New 52, as readers have been led to believe since the reboot two years ago, then what could change the future enough to make readers question and "think" about the nature of the team?
DC isn't saying quite yet, and Levitz has understandably referred our questions to the writer of the next series based in DC's future, whoever that may be.
Just because Levitz is leaving the Legion behind doesn't mean the writer is leaving the DC Universe, as he continues his work on Worlds' Finest (see our separate interview with the writer about the comic's New Gods connection this summer).
He's also busy working on the current five-volume book series that serve as an expanded re-release of Levitz's 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making. The five new hardcovers feature extra artwork and interview material, and they break the giant history of DC into different eras.
The first volume, The Golden Age of DC Comics, has already been released, but Levitz is busy working on the second volume, The Silver Age of DC Comics.
Newsarama talked to Levitz about the end of Legion of Super-Heroes, what he hopes happens to the characters he loves so much, and what else he's got coming up.
Newsarama: We've been told that Legion of Super-Heroes is ending. How are you wrapping up the comic over the next few issues?
Paul Levitz: The end of the Fatal Five story has had some calamitous consequences for the Legion, coming after the losses that created the Legion Lost tales...all in all, a pretty awful period in their history. [Issue] #23 will be an epilogue to all that, hopefully putting an end to this run, and leaving the reader to think about its place in the DC universe.
Nrama: Hmm.. that description sounds about as cryptic as the solicitation saying that the "true nature of the Legion is questioned" in the issue. Does this mean you've been given enough notice about this that you can put a definitive end onto your latest run?
Levitz: I've been lucky enough to be granted some space to end this chapter, and to have Kevin Maguire step in on the art to make it a bit of a moment, given his unusual gift at depicting emotion. I have to thank the DC gang for the chance.
Nrama: With all this mystery about the Legion's "place" in the DCU and its "nature"... what should people know going into that final issue? And does it set things up for anything else coming from DC?
Levitz: Whatever's coming next for the Legion or the 31st Century DCU, it isn't my stories, so you'll have to ask them. I'll be waiting with you to see.
Just know that whether you've liked this run or not, I've been honored to play with the lives of my favorite cast of characters this third time, and I thank my Legion — the readers who made it all possible for so long.
Nrama: Just in general, how does it feel to see another Legion book come to an end, and what are your hopes for the Legion property overall?
Levitz: The Legion's ended before and come back a number of times in its history. I'm old enough that I was a reader when the original series of their adventures ended, and guys like Harry Broertjes and Mike Flynn wrote in letters to the editor, and Murray Boltinoff ended up bringing it back about a year or year-and-a-half later as a back-up series in Superboy. And slowly but surely it conquered the book.
I mean, I'm obviously disappointed we didn't have a success with this run of Legion that we had with the run I did in the 1980's. It's always more fun when you're at the top of the charts than when you're not. But they're great characters, and I'm sure they will remain part of the DC Universe in one incarnation or another forever.
I'm happy to have had all these shots to write all these characters that I loved growing up and to add to their mythology. I think three times is probably enough. So I think if they show back up at some point, it's likely to be in somebody else's hands rather than mine. But that's OK, because I'll get to read it.
And hopefully I'll get some new challenges in the deal.
Nrama: Does that mean you've got some new projects coming up?
Levitz: Lots of stuff on editors' desks and conversations, but I'm hoping to spend the summer on one of my book projects. I've put a lot of energy into that. I'm sure we'll have a chance to talk about that as it gets closer.
I was just down at Taschen looking at the Silver Age volume of my five book series there. I was transported there, back again and again to my childhood with all the great stuff from the 1960's. I'm looking forward to everybody's reaction to that one.
Basically, we took the giant book I did (75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making) and put it into five volumes. So there's about 50 percent more artwork in it than there was before, a little more text material, a new interview with Neil Adams, which is fun. He's always such a character and had such an impact on that period.
And it's done in Taschen's usual outrageously high production standards. So you have a glowing metallic silver cover with Flash running at you.
The first one, the Golden Age one, came out about two or three months ago. It's available now. The Silver Age volume should be out in the next few weeks.
Nrama: This industry seems to have so much information that's available about the history of comic books, and yet we want more. As fans, I think we're practically insatiable when it comes to the history of not only the characters, but the people behind their creation. There are so many great stories.
Levitz: Comics are unusual in that so much of the fun of the mythology is so cumulative. If you fall in love with a character now, your full understanding of it is, in part, based on your digging into the old stories.
I remember first getting access to the DC library and just sitting there for days on my lunch hours or breaks, reading the original All-Star Comics about the Justice Society, which just took me back before my time to see the roots of all of this.
And I think that's a natural fan reaction. Whatever you love, you want to see the earlier works by the writer, the artist, the first appearance of the character, and it gets reinforced as we bring all these things back. You see Desaad in a Worlds' Finest story and you get curious. What exactly did he look like when [creator Jack] Kirby first brought him out? How much of what's here was there as potential?
So I think that's why we have a deep passion for the history of these things. And I think we've been lucky in recent years that we've seen these beautifully produced books on the history.