As the Legion of Super-Heroes comic by Paul Levitz concludes its first storyline this week, with the writer's Adventure Comics story finishing soon as well, fans of the team are already seeing changes coming.
In Monday's solicitations for December, it was apparent the original direction for Adventure Comics — to tell stories about the origins of the Legion — is changing. As Levitz writes the team and their adventures in the 31st Century, the focus appears to be back on what the team is doing currently in both comics.
This change comes just as fans are cheering the reunion of Levitz with his former Legion collaborator, Keith Giffen. The two are doing the Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 in December, working together again after all these years to tell a new story of the Emerald Empress.
In the first part of our discussion with Levitz, we focused on his Annual with Giffen. Now we talk more about the changes coming for Adventure Comics and what's coming up in the Legion of Super-Heroes, including the recently announced elections.
Newsarama: Paul, I think we had talked about this before you started on the book, but you're focusing on a few members of the Legion now... is the focus going to shift as the series goes along?
Paul Levitz: I want to bring in a bunch of new readers. We seem to be getting a fair number of new folks showing up. And introducing them to, "Here are your 40 new, wonderful friend," is a very challenging form of introduction. It's like the feeling you had the day you started a new school and you look around overwhelmed. It makes more sense to keep a lot of the focus on a handful early on.
I also had the relative advantage or disadvantage that, when I started the book, we had a bunch of Legionnaires off in the 21st Century. I didn't know exactly when they'd be coming back or exactly what elements they'd be coming back with. So they were completely off stage for the first few issues. They're back, showing up now.
But yeah, I'm trying to get around to everybody. I did a one-line write-off of Matter Eater Lad, and there were tons of postings that loudly announced, "Oh God! He's our favorite! How could you do that?" So we ended up writing a one-page Matter Eater Lad and just dropping it into Issue #6, to say, "OK, guys, it's not that he's not still in the Legion Universe. He just doesn't fit the team that's running around right now." So we're trying to get to everybody.
The first story had an awful lot of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, because their children had been kidnapped, and you'd logically expect them to be reacting to that. Issue #4 pretty much finished up the immediate thing that happened to the kids, but I think those kids have a perpetual problem from Darkseid's cure, and we'll see how that ultimately plays itself out. I'm sure we'll see them again, but not for a little while.
And we had focused on Earth Man, but that problem's wrapping up. He'll still be around. But we've concluded a lot of the stories with Issue #5.
Nrama: What comes after this week's Issue #5?
Levitz: Issue #6 is a split issue. We have a lovely story with my old friend Phil Jimenez jumping in to do a story about the Legion Academy with me. And we have some of the old favorites that kept cropping up on message boards, with people saying, "Can't we see Comet Queen again?" And there will be some new characters as well.
The other half of the book has a bunch of characters who you've seen a fair amount of, but you may not have seen this much of. We give some good space to Colossal Boy. Phantom Girl gets a little more space and we get to develop her a little more.
And then Issue #7, again we're doing a split issue. Half of it is a story with Brainiac 5 and Chameleon Boy, who hasn't really had any space yet. And the other half is the beginning of the Assassin's arc, and you get a whole lot of Legionnaires in that arc that haven't had a lot of exposure.
Over in Adventure, you've got yet other guys getting their moment of glory. So I don't know that I've gotten to everybody, but we will have seen an awful lot of them by then.
Nrama: What can you tell us about these elections you have coming up?
Levitz: We're setting up what the mechanism will be for readers to vote, talking to the online guys about what the best way to do that is. And we're hoping that with the changes in technology, particularly changes in the printing technology more than the voting technology, that we'll be able to run a fast election and a very fast result and have a new leader show up in another couple of issues.
I've always enjoyed the elections. It always surprised me. And it always fueled new story bits. Because you don't know fully how the readers are reacting to the characters.
Nrama: We saw in Issue #4 a type of member’s roster. Was that the team for now?
Levitz: Yeah, you can figure it out from that. If you read the symbols on the mission monitor board, you can usually figure out who's on the team at any time.
I think part of the fun of the Legion is all of that decoding. I think the passion with which people approach that and argue with each other on the message boards is a lot of fun. I mean, I could have a handbook showing — I said it was 26 — so I could just say, "Here are the 26 and what I envision about the order in which they joined and the continuity of the last five years since the last time thing went on." But a little bit of decoding is fun.
I think Easter eggs are fun, even if you don't get them all, particularly now in the age of Google. It just changes the dynamic, because if you run across a name or something that you want to know more about, it's not hard to find something that leads you somewhere. And I think that's part of the fun of this book. The whole Legion mythology.
I had so much fun when I was a kid in the debates about what order the Legionnaires joined in. That was one of the big questions in early DC history, because the stories were not quite contradictory, but certainly not clear. I don't want to deprive anyone of that kind of pleasant torture.
Nrama: With this week's solicitations, the approach on Adventure Comics appeared to change. It had originally been "Secret Files" type stories from the past. Is that what's happening in December?
Levitz: We wrap up the past-driven stuff at the end of Issue #520. It was an interesting experiment to try and go back and kind of tell something about the beginning of the Legion that was simultaneously accurate to the history but also revealing some new elements. We got some interesting controversy going, certainly off the story with Saturn Girl. Some people reacted very powerfully to that.
Nrama: So with Issue #521, what's the new direction?
Levitz: Issue #521 is a fully contemporary story that is meshed into the regular series. If you read Legion of Super-Heroes #7, then two weeks later you can go into the story in Adventure #521, then two weeks later, you're going into the story in Legion #8.
Nrama: Do they actually cross into each other?
Levitz: Not in the sense that you have a continued story going from one into the other. It's not one tale. But it sits neatly in the timeline. The cast is large enough that these guys are doing a bunch of things at the same time.
Nrama: So what you have is one Legion team, but two different parts of that team are in two different places in two different comics?
Levitz: Yeah. Or more likely, with the Legion, four different parts of the Legion are in four different places. And you'll hear about where two of them are in one comic and two in another.
That will probably only go on for an issue or two until we move on to the next iteration of Legion material in Adventure.
Nrama: So what can you tell us about the story you're starting in Adventure Comics #521?
Issue #521 gives me an opportunity to finish up the story on who is going to be the Green Lantern. The story's titled, "Summons of the Ring." And we've seen Earth Man reject the ring. We've seen the little larva creature that came out of Oa. We don't quite know what he's the larva of. But we've seen him off on quest. And a couple of the readers have correctly identified the name game with him, which is always rewarding when folks catch on along the way, but not everybody, and not too fast. His name is a play on Diogenes and the whole Greek concept of the man with a lamp going around looking for an honest man. So we're sort of playing with that. In Issue #521, you'll get the revelation of what the people he's seeking have in common. It will be one of the clues for things that will go on in the future.
There was a lot of logical debate saying that, well, the Guardians haven't always been perfect about picking people, but Earth Man???? Well, Earth Man was there for a reason. There are some common characteristics that he's been searching for beyond the usual level of fearlessness. For the particular reason that he was born to find a new Green Lantern at this moment in time.
Remember this all goes back to Legion Issue #1 and his birth, or procreation, or however you want to define it. That will all unfold over a period of time, mostly in the main Legion book, but we sort of wrap up this element in this story.
Nrama: You mentioned you'd be doing this for an issue or two. Is there a plan for Adventure Comics in the future?
Levitz: We've got a very neat plan cooking, but it's not yet at full boil, so we're not ready to announce. If all works right, it will definitely be a part of the Legion mythology and set contemporaneously, or mostly contemporaneously, with the main book. But with its own corner.