LEGION LOST Love: Fabian Nicieza Takes the LSH to the DCnU

Fabian Nicieza Talks DCnU LEGION LOST

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Fabian Nicieza was so busy with other projects that he was considering a departure from writing comics for DC. But the publisher pulled him back in because of one thing:

Legion love.

It's a common affliction. People who love the futuristic teenage team called the Legion of Super-Heroes are usually fans for life.

In September, DC is hoping to make Legion fans happy while recruiting a new group of Legion lovers with two new #1 issues — Legion of Super-Heroes by current Legion writer and former DC publisher Paul Levitz, and a new title called Legion Lost.

DC has tapped Nicieza to launch the new Legion Lost title after his Red Robin series ends in August. Legion Lost will also feature art by Pete Woods, best known for his recent work on Action Comics.

Although the Legion Lost title may sound familiar to long-time fans, the new comic doesn't revive the "Legion Lost" story from 11 years ago. Instead, the new Legion Lost focuses on seven team members of the current Legion line-up who leave the future to chase a villain into the past.

And apparently, they become trapped there.

Newsarama talked with Nicieza to find out more about the Legion Lost series, and why the writer was hesitating to accept any writing assignment until he heard the name "Timber Wolf."

Newsarama: Fabian, what interested you about doing a Legion comic? How did you hear about it, and why did you want this comic in particular?

Fabian Nicieza: The gosh-darned honest truth is that I was planning on saying "No" to whatever they offered. Mike Marts asked me to meet Bob Harras, Eddie Berganza and Brian Cunningham at the local brewpub we'd go to for Bat-lunches. I knew it was going to be trouble right away.

Between the IP management, consulting and development work I do with Starlightrunner Entertainment and being a co-founder/CCO for a kids sports-themed virtual world called FunGoPlay (free preview starts June 15th — at fungoplay.com — parents and kids should check it out), I seem to have a whole lot going on in my non-comics life.

And if it wasn't writing Red Robin — or maybe Nightwing or Superman — I honestly didn't know what they would offer that could get me excited enough to ignore my family, my health and my TV (not necessarily in that order) to make me want to write it.

So they told me Red Robin was ending, and I expected it, but was miffed. I started asking if it was me, if it was sales, if it was Dick Cheney — "give me some reason" — and Bob looked left and right — real fast like he does, nervous, makes you nervous too — he smiled and then he got all John LeCarre on me with fingerprinting and DNA samples and stuff like that to double-pinky swear me not to say anything...

... And they told me what was going to be happening to the DCU. I think the words, "mighty big brass balls" came out of my mouth at some point. Then they offered me Legion Lost.

And I was going to say no, I really was, but they said "Wildfire and Dawnstar and Timber Wolf," and they kept talking, but I wasn't listening too much because they named three of my favorite Legionnaires and I was thinking about them. Then I heard "trapped in our present day, you tell us why," and then I looked around to see if I could get another beer... and I think they knew they had me, but I still tried to play it coy.

Nrama: You were trapped! So I take it you were a Legion fan?

Nicieza: Well as they were talking — editors talk a lot — even though I want to state here that officially they never said anything and I never heard anything (double pinky swear — I was thinking of Dave Cockrum's splash page of Wildfire reintroducing himself to the team after "Erg-1" had seemingly died, burning his hame in the air.)

And I thought of Mike Grell drawing Dawnstar and making the 13-year old me wish I could be a piece of yellow fringe.

I thought of Timber Wolf sharing an awkward moment with Saturn Girl on an asteroid during Levitz and [Keith] Giffen's classic run.

And I thought of the Steve Lightle cover where Tellus became a member of the Legion.

So... the answer is yes, I have been a Legion fan since, like, 1973, through the Cockrum and Grell run, on and off during the Levitz/[Gerry] Conway runs, came back when Pat Broderick was drawing the book with Paul, then obviously stuck through when Giffen took over the art and all through the '80s. Lost track a bit during the '90s, came back again during the "DnA" [Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning] run, and have followed it since. I have all the DC Archives, plus tons of issues in my collection and recently added some of the ones I was missing.

All that being said, Legion Lost is not exactly the Legion of Super-Heroes book at all. Their emphasis is on the word "Legion" while our emphasis is on the word "Lost".

Nrama: I'm a huge fan of time travel stories, and it looks like that's what the Legion Lost comic is about, although there's obviously a twist.

Can you set up the premise a bit?

Nicieza: The characters come back in time to our present day in order to stop a future terrorist from ravaging Earth. His attempt to do so in their time failed, and he was sent into the past (which might have been the Legionnaires fault).

And even if the Lost succeed in stopping him, they might not be able to return home for fear of carrying a deadly pathogen back with them.

Nrama: The cover doesn't look like things are going well for them. Is that true, and can you explain their dire situation?

Nicieza: The cover to #1, great job by Pete Woods, is symbolic and real at the same time.

So far, the book is this wonderful opening combination of desperation, confusion, sweat and a complete, unexpected inability to access all the common tropes the Legion have used when they've come to the past before. I guarantee this won't be "business as usual" for the group in our time period.

Nrama: So how would you describe the tone of the comic? Is it action? Adventure? Humorous? Horror?...

Nicieza: Yes.

And Terror. And Drama. And Conflict. And Loss. And Hope.

Nrama: Why do you think this comic will appeal to new readers?

Nicieza: It is a great mix of characters who have a real sense of history to them, but you are being introduced to them BANG from the opening pages without needing to know any of that history. This is who they are. This is what they do. This is why they are here. This is why they are royally screwed. This is why they are responsible for something that can ravage the human race.

And it ends with the greatest line I can imagine for a first issue to end on.

Nrama: Can you confirm who these seven characters are? Legion fans have been guessing a few different people.

Nicieza: Tellus the telepath/telekinetic. Gates the teleporter. Dawnstar the tracker. Wildfire the reluctant energy being. Chameleon Girl the shapeshifter. Timber Wolf the hunter. Tyroc the sonic manipulator.

Nrama: Why these seven heroes? Were they chosen for this mission for a

reason? Did you pick them?

Nicieza: I didn't pick the seven heroes, but I don't know if I could have come up with a better combination of characters. They aren't necessarily the best of buddies, they have great complimentary powers, they lack a deus ex machina among them — they can't let Braniac 5 whip up a new time machine! They don't have a de facto leader, great mix of genders, cultures, species, everything!

Nrama: You mentioned Pete Woods' cover, and he's also doing interiors. What does Pete bring to the title?

Nicieza: What doesn't he bring to the title? He draws everything great. His storytelling is excellent, his figure drawing smooth, his characterization is nuanced, his designs are sleek. I have been pretty lucky lately with my draw on the artists I've gotten to work with, including Freddie Williams on Robin, Frazer Irving on Azrael, and Marcus To on Red Robin.

I've wanted to work with Pete since he drew Robin way back when, and I got a chance when I co-wrote an Action Comics three-parter with Kurt Busiek, but this is a great opportunity to start on the ground floor of something totally cool. [We'll] really get a chance to stake a claim to a group of characters who have been around for a long time, but because of the nature of the Legion of Super-Heroes title, have never really had the chance for the kind of prolonged, in-depth character development they're going to get now.

Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about Legion Lost?

Nicieza: I haven't had a chance to write a team book in a while, and they really are a different set of muscles that need flexing. But as I get into the flow, I'm remembering just why I like writing team books so much — and frankly why I think I do a pretty good job on them. There are so many possibilities for character interaction, so much nitty-gritty personality interplay to dive into — so many story possibilities, because of the different paths individual characters can take you on.

The easiest way I can explain how much fun I'm starting to have is to say that once I started writing Legion Lost, all my anger at Red Robin going away started to dissipate (hey let's not be crazy now, I only said "started" to...)

I also want to tell those fans who think they know what this book is going to be about are in for some pretty interesting surprises.

Those readers who think they know what these characters are like should be prepared to see them forced into acting in a whole new light.

And those fans who get in on the ground floor will get a chance to see a storyline that could very well have long-term ramifications on the entire DC Universe.

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