LEVITZ & THE LEGION p. 2: Villain Special and LSH

LEVITZ & THE LEGION p. 2

The last few weeks have been eventful for fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and it doesn't appear to be stopping.

Last week saw the publication of Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1, which reunited legendary Legion creators Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. The response to the issue was overwhelmingly positive, and Giffen has posted online that he desires to do more.

In January, fans found out the results of their online voting for the election of who would become the new leader in the pages of Legion of Super-Heroes, the ongoing comic by Levitz and artist Yildiray Cinar. Mon-El is the new leader, although he doesn't know it yet, since he's busy being a Green Lantern of the 31st Century.

In March, DC will publish the Legion of Super-Villains special, with art by Francis Portela. The one-shot story spins into the Legion of Super-Heroes series as it builds toward a showdown with the Legion of Super-Villains and a mysterious new blue villain that appears to be one of the most powerful the heroes have ever faced.

Now that Adventure Comics has a new direction that concentrates on the "Legion Academy" characters, the Legion of Super-Heroes comic becomes the main home of the Legion. In part two of our focus on the Legion, Newsarama talked with Levitz to find out what's coming next in the comic.

Newsarama: Paul, before we delve into what's coming up in Legion, you mentioned earlier that you saw the positive fan reaction to the Annual that you did with Keith Giffen. Is there any chance you guys will work together again?

Paul Levitz: Oh, I'm sure. Keith said very loudly and very publicly that he'd like to do more Legion work. I enjoy working with him enormously. We're doing a lot of Legion stuff these days; mercifully, the readers seem to be supporting it OK. So I'm sure there will be something that works out, if he can squeeze it into his schedule with his other things at DC.

Nrama: The Legion series just experienced a fan election for its new leader, but the election appears to have messed up your plans to have Mon-El be a Green Lantern. Was the election result a bit of a surprise to you?

Levitz: It certainly wasn't what I had in mind! But that's the fun of it. I mean, I had Mon-El on a trajectory to go off and play in a corner of space, and he would have circled back at a certain point with some of the story threads coming together that will tie out some of what we started with Titan Fall and the Green Lantern Corps mythology. There are a lot of pieces I've been planting in different corners of the garden. So I just thought, "OK, I can't wait that long! How are you getting him back in here, and what's that going to do to all this?"

It was not as destructive as it might have been if it was somebody I'd literally planned to kill off a minute later. But it required a little bit of fancy footwork.

I have some great scenes as a result, though. There's a lovely moment in another issue or so where Mon-El has found out what it is, and Brainiac 5, who's been elected deputy leader, is back and he's taken control and has done a whole bunch of good things as deputy leader. And he's very proud of himself. But the other Legionnaires are still a little concerned. And Mon-El just sort of shows up and says, 'It's a good thing I figured out how to be in two places at once!' How exactly he does that, I guess you have to wait for the issue to find out.

Nrama: Upcoming solicitations for all your Legion stories appear to be pointing toward a major storyline. Are there big plans for the Legion this year?

 

Levitz: I think we're in for a really fun year. The next really large set of story elements get all launched in the Legion of Super-Villains special. Readers have seen the beautiful piece that ran in the Annual, which is a teaser for it.

Nrama: Let's start with the current Durla story arc. That wraps up next month, right?

Levitz: Yes, and the wrap-up of the Durlan storyline has had some challenges because we were switching page counts and format through the middle of it, because of what was going on with DC's page count decisions. Nothing that I think was unreasonable or harmful in the long run, but it just required some fancy footwork, because when you build something figuring you have 30-page issues to deal with it, and then you have 20 pages to work with, it requires a certain amount of adjustment.

Nrama: After that, the comic heads into a storyline kicking off with the Legion of Super-Villains special. And that's drawn by Francis Portela?

Levitz: It's absolutely gorgeous art by Francis Portela, who's been playing back-up singer on Legion since we started. And here he really gets his chance to shine on his own.

The special actually has almost no Legionnaires in it. It's really a story of the villains themselves, and it is a beginning to a lot of what is going to go on.

It's a hoot. Saturn Queen, who is a very interesting and different kind of personality as a villainous, gets to come into her own as the new leader of the Legion of Super-Villains.

Nrama: How does it lead into what's coming in the Legion over the next year?

Levitz: It's all built around elements that have been running through Adventure and Legion of Super-Heroes since Legion #1, and will build to pay off an awful lot of that as the storyline moves into the regular book.

We pull together so many different threads that have been planted, that affect different characters' lives and different worlds. We'll be making some changes and bringing in some of DC history. We'll have some 20th Century places from the DCU suffering pretty dramatically in the special, as they come under attack. We'll have other places that we've never seen before in the DC Universe become battlegrounds.

We have a great sequence of things taking place on Colu, which we have not had an enormous chance to explore over the years, even though that's been a very familiar part of mythology. But the world itself hasn't been explored perhaps as thoroughly as we get a chance to.

We introduce a bunch of new members to the Legion of Super-Villains who haven't previously existed. We see how easily one villain can kill another in the right set of circumstances. These are not very nice people, and things happen among them. They're not prone to behave nicely to each other any more than they are to the good guys.

 

Nrama: In next month's issue #11, you've got Star Boy on the cover. He's back in the book?

Levitz: We have him coming back at hopefully an interesting and important moment in it. Dream Girl goes off and picks up her guy, back from the 21st Century, in a somewhat damaged condition. He's still going on about his Sloppy Joes and other things he's gotten enamored of in the 21st Century, and he needs a little repair work to get himself back to his prime. But he may or may not be able to get that repair work, because some of what's driven him nuts is some of what's necessary for the battles to come.

Nrama: And Sensor Girl is still searching for Karate Kid?

Levitz: Yes. We established that in Legion #6, and that's something that became a casualty of page counts, I'm sorry to say. But yes, we will get there soon.

Nrama: You know, if you do end up doing anything with Keith, there's a good chance a new or "found" Karate Kid would die, right?

Levitz: It's a certain level of risk, but sometimes that's part of what motivates him to take on an assignment. "Keith, come back to the book. We'll let you kill him again." It's very therapeutic, for reasons I don't quite understand.

Nrama: Since the upcoming issues spin out of the special, is it safe to assume that there will be a showdown between the Super-Heroes and Super-Villains?

Levitz: Well, I think when we're done, you'll see a set of threads that started with "Titan Fall" that will perhaps retroactively seem much more closely fitted together than they ever did at the time. Some of that was stuff that was deliberately planted. Some of that is just stuff that occurred along the way.

But we have a villain vastly more powerful than any of the Legion of Super-Villains floating around who we've now seen. We had the appearance by the little blue guy. He's a very scary little bastard. He's going to be very dangerous. And the stuff that he did very, very briefly, just touching Saturn Queen in that issue, is what enables her to start all the problems on Takron-Galtos when she's there. And by the time we're done, hopefully he'll be another major force in the DC Universe that somehow or another will have to be defeated.

Nrama: We know Mon-El is going to play an important role this year, if for no other reason than the election results. But can you point toward any other members of the Legion of Super-Heroes who are going to have an important role in 2011?

Levitz: We have some fun things coming up with Star Boy, so that guarantees that Dream Girl gets more attention than she's had so far. She hasn't perhaps had her fair share. In the next couple of stories, we'll have some nice action for Element Lad. We have interesting moments with Brainiac 5 when he's back on Colu. He's not one of the underappreciated Legion members from this first year -- he's actually gotten a significant amount of time, but Yildiray [Cinar] really loves drawing him and does it very well. And Colu is always a fun place for the character.

We have some significant next steps in the whole long story of Earth Man, as we take that to its more final moment in its natural progression. A lot of fun with Ultra Boy, a little bit of fun with Wildfire. Lightning Lass gets a moment or two.

I think issue #13, which is the last one I turned in, I managed to have 19 of the Legionnaires in action, which in a 20-page story is pretty close to illegal. So I think people are going to feel good about seeing most of their favorites, whoever their favorites are, before this is over.

 

There's a line that Brian particularly enjoyed in issue #12 where Diogene, the little larva from Oa, is bemoaning the size problem that is facing the universe at the moment, talking to Mon-El about the fact that in the old days, there would have been the Corps; now there's just Sodam Yat and Mon-El. But Mon-El turns and says, "And the Legion. Never underestimate the Legion."

So you're going to see a Legion of Legionnaires before we're done.

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