PAUL LEVITZ On His Emotional WORLDS' FINEST Journey, WORLD'S END Exit
cover to Worlds' Finest #25
CREDIT: DC Comics
Paul Levitz is handling a couple different exits with DC these days, but despite reports to the contrary, he's not leaving his current job on Worlds' Finest.
Nor is the comic being canceled… yet.
Over the next couple months in Worlds' Finest, Levitz will tell the emotional story of Huntress and Power Girl returning to their war-torn home world of Earth 2, after having spent much of their adult life on DC's Prime Earth. Then Levitz's September issue, Worlds' Finest: Futures End #1, will be set five years in the future of the two heroines, presumably back on Prime Earth.
The story of Huntress and Power Girl on Earth 2 will be continued in October in Earth 2: World's End. And at one point, Levitz was supposed to be part of that weekly's creative team. But that's the other exit we mentioned — last month, DC announced Levitz would no longer be one of the co-writers on the Earth 2 weekly.
Instead, beginning in October, Levitz will continue writing Worlds' Finest, but with a whole new direction. By setting the stories in the history of Earth 2, Levitz will be in charge of writing the timeline for the alternate Earth's past — tying into the weekly series while also depicting the origins and early adventures of Earth 2 Superman and Batman. That means readers will see the earliest stories of a Superman whose parents are still alive and who married Lois Lane, and a Bruce Wayne whose father wasn't really dead.
Why did Levitz think the weekly wasn't the right gig for him? How does he finish up the story of Huntress and Power Girl on Prime Earth? And what does he think of Helena Bertinelli showing up in Grayson?
In the first installment of our two-part interview with Levitz (check back tomorrow for more about October's new direction for Worlds' Finest... and how long it lasts), Newsarama talked to Levitz to find out more.
Newsarama: Paul, I looked back at some of our earliest interviews about this title, and although you never said Huntress and Power Girl were going home someday, I always got the feeling you knew they would. When you started Worlds' Finest, did you always know you eventually wouldn't be telling stories about Huntress and Power Girl on Prime Earth, because they'd return home?
Paul Levitz: Well, one of the hardest parts about this series is I've written most of it waiting to find out the timetable of when they're going to go home. The Earth 2 book really had the lead on all of that stuff. And [Earth 2's former writer] James [Robinson] went back and forth with the editors for quite some time trying to work out a timetable, before he left the title.
And I really didn't have a fixed date throughout to work with, until probably when I was writing the last four issues, maybe.
So it was always a theory that they were, in fact, going to go home. But it wasn't necessarily that they were both going at the same time. There was one point at which we were setting up the story so that, perhaps, Power Girl would go and Huntress would stay behind.
And the ground kind of kept shifting on all of that, as the other DC projects evolved.
Nrama: As you finish up the story of Huntress and Power Girl on Prime Earth, what can we expect from the next couple issues?
Levitz: We've got a couple things I enjoyed writing, and I hope the readers enjoy as much. There are some nice scenes in #25 as they're about to leave this Earth and you really get a little bit of the emotional background of the two of them laid out more thoroughly in the process, trying to work through the whole… why they want to go home, how they felt about being here.
We see Huntress thinking about how long she's likely to survive if she returns to a war-torn planet. For Power Girl, there's an expectation that she's going to be one of the most powerful beings on this planet. She needs to be there, from her point of view, for the war. Huntress has watched everybody she loves get killed. She's not got any superpowers. She's just going to go back and be cannon fodder. And how do you deal with that? How do you deal with those reactions?
So the story's called, "Farewells." And there are some nice character moments in there.
There's also the beginning of a story of a character who's being set up for the DC Universe for other titles going forward, whom we've seen introduced in previous issues as a supporting character, but we take her a little further along the journey toward a heroic identity.
Nrama: I know you know what's coming for Huntress and Power Girl, once they step back onto Earth 2, since you were working for awhile on the weekly Earth 2: World's End. Is part of what you're putting into their farewells connected at all to what's coming for them?
Levitz: Only on a very limited basis. The weekly has a number of complicated stories going forward, and I left that project very, very early on, so I don't actually know the pacing of how they're planning to reveal which pieces of it. The stage at which I left it was more, you know, "here are the macro stories, and here are the characters involved in it." But not the moments of trauma or moments of emotion that were going forward. So I'm going to be as surprised as everybody else, which is kind of fun, to see what happens with the ladies.
Nrama: What will we see in the September issue, Worlds' Finest: Futures End #1, which takes place five years from now? If it ties in at all with The New 52: Futures End weekly, which I assume it does to some extent, then are Huntress and Power Girl back on Prime Earth, after the war? Do we see who survived? Can you tease this issue at all?
Levitz: I got together with Keith [Giffen] on structuring the story for that month, because he was the architect of a lot of what was going on in that Futures End story, and of course, we're very used to playing together.
So he gave me some elements to work with, in the set up of what was happening at that five year later period.
And it made for a very different kind of story.
It's structured around Power Girl trying to help Huntress when she's probably at the lowest moment of her life. And you get a lot of different kind of action from Power Girl as a result.
But it's a very different world.
The art on it, I think, should be absolutely lovely. Yildiray has come back in for the pencils, and it's supposed to be inked by Paul Neary, who's just a wonderfully talented man, whose work I've enjoyed since the days when he was on Marvel UK projects a thousand years ago.
Nrama: You also worked with Yildiray on Legion of Super-Heroes, right?
Levitz: Yeah, he did a lot of Legion with me, and then he did a short Huntress story within a story in one of the recent issues. And he did the Desaad issue. It's always fun to work with him.
Nrama: Can you confirm that they're back on Prime Earth in the Futures End issue?
Levitz: Uh… they're in pretty deep trouble.
Nrama: Yeah, because most of the Earth 2 heroes are imprisoned, right?
Levitz: I think most of Earth 2 is in deep trouble by that point.
Nrama: On the last few issues of Worlds' Finest, you're working with Tyler Kirkham, of Batman: Gates of Gotham fame. What does he bring to the comic as you finish up your story of Huntress and Power Girl?
Levitz: Just some nice human expressions and moments.
I already hit him up for one of the pages of original art for my wall.
One of the things that made Worlds' Finest, I think, a very attractive book at the beginning was what Kevin [Maguire] and George [Pérez] were doing with them as human characters. Both of them are such wonderfully expressive artists in very different styles.
And I think Tyler has some moments where he captures that same sort thing.
Nrama: You're also doing some Earth 2 history in the Secret Origin series coming up, for Huntress and Power Girl?
Levitz: Yeah, those are coming up. And that's fun for those people who enjoyed the Worlds' Finest #0. It gives me another chance to really dive back into that set of emotional dynamics for those characters.
The alternative reasons for the name Robin, and the costume, play out a little bit as she goes through that period.
Nrama: That reminds me, were you aware that there's now a Helena Bertinelli on Prime Earth?
Levitz: Yeah, I understand they're doing her in Grayson. I'd wanted to do a Helena Bertinelli who was the Huntress on Prime Earth before Helena Wayne got there, but they hadn't wanted to do it, and maybe this is the reason. They may have had this in mind for awhile.
Nrama: I know, in Worlds' Finest, that Helena Wayne said Bertinelli was dead, so I guess they'll explain that. Or maybe there's more than one Helena Bertinelli on Prime Earth.
Levitz: Yeah, I'm sure there's more than one Paul Levitz floating around out there. And your name's a little less generic, certainly the Vaneta part of it, so maybe you still Google uniquely.
But most of us have somebody treading on our identity to one extent or another.
Nrama: You were sneaky with me the last time we talked, when we were discussing your role on the board for Boom Studios, and I asked you what you thought of DC doing three weeklies. You said something about how you hoped to work on one of DC's weeklies someday. I assume you knew, at that point, that you were working on one?
Nrama: I know you've made comments elsewhere about leaving the weekly, but can you address what it was about the project that didn't work out for you? Can you clarify it at all? Do you not like weeklies?
Levitz: No, I mean, I love the idea of weeklies. It's something that fascinated me back to our attempts to do Action Comics Weekly, which didn't work, and both Mike [Carlin] and Denny [O'Neil]'s very different approach to creating a weekly experience for their readers.
And part of me would love to take the challenge of just writing a weekly comic solo at some point in life. I'm probably one of the last of the guys who was trained to write at a pace where I physically could do that.
But the way they're constructed now, as team projects, it's a fairly delicate construction, and perfected, I think, when we did 52, which had a very good creative result and a very good business result.
But each time you're trying to put a team together, you're trying to fit four or five creative people working together, and it's got to fit right. Everybody's got to be there to do the right job, fitting together with the right other people.
Check back for more of our interview with Levitz, as we discuss what happens to Worlds' Finest in October, what role Earth 2 Wonder Woman plays in the series, and whether Levitz's ending of his Legion run ties into his current Earth 2 work.