For Paul Levitz, the goal of his Convergence: World's Finest issues is to give a fitting farewell and tribute to the characters he's writing — in the vein of Alan Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel?
Keeping Moore's legendary Superman story in mind, Levitz found an innovative way to bid farewell to the Seven Soldiers of Victory — by framing their Convergence story in a report being "drawn" and "written" by Golden Age cartoon character Scribbly Jibbet.
It's all part of the mega-event DC is releasing during April and May, as the company not only moves its editorial offices from New York to Burbank, California, but also pauses its ongoing comics in preparation for a line-wide revamp in June. During the two-month break, a main Convergence title will be released weekly, telling the story of different cities that have been trapped under domes by Brainiac, and what happens when the worlds captured in those domes fight each other.
In Convergence: World's Finest, the Metropolis of the Seven Soldiers and Scribbly will battle characters from Qward — all transcribed by Scribbly. The art for the adventures of the Seven Soldiers will be drawn by Joe Rubenstein, with Shannon Wheeler depicting the cartoon reports of Scribbly.
So what does this have to do with Alan Moore's story? Who is Scribbly Jibbet? And what Seven Soldiers will show up? We talked to Levitz to find out more about his two-issue comic, Convergence: World's Finest.
Newsarama: Paul, you're obviously well-versed in the history of the DCU, so I assume you had a lot of characters in mind that could work for a story for Convergence. How did you end up with this group?
Paul Levitz: Co-Publisher Dan DiDio gave me a choice of several different fairly obscure DC properties to work with — I think on the theory that I ought to know where the obscurities lie.
So I picked the Seven Soldiers, and I have some fond memories of them, although not in any detail, because they never had deep and personal stories.
But I then kind of trumped it by adding to the mix, really I believe, the oldest DC character ever in the continuity of the company — Scribbly, who was Shelly Mayer's autobiographical boy cartoonist story that he began publishing before he came to DC with Dell in '36 or so.
When he came over to DC, he did a long run of them in All-American Comics and then a short run in its own title, and the brought him back for one cameo in an issue of Sugar and Spike in the '60s.
But it's 50 years since we've seen him. And he's the magic ingredient in this story.
Nrama: Yeah, it sounds like, from the description, he's almost like the narrator of the story?
Levitz: We tell the story through his eyes and through his drawings.
Nrama: Is the art in a cartoon style?
Levitz: Most of the art is in a relatively modern style, but the reason Shannon Wheeler was brought onto the project — and I'm thrilled that he was able to do it — was to do Scribbly's cartoons.
So the story is narrated in conventional, modern comics style. But when the cartoonist is drawing, Shannon steps in to draw the editorial cartoons or the cartoon moments that come in.
Nrama: The premise of Convergence is that these domes are placed over various cities. So how does that tie into this story? What city is under a dome in this story?
Levitz: The theory is that it's Metropolis as it existed at the time of the "red skies" moment, right at the beginning of Crisis on Infinite Earths, right before Metropolis gets eradicated.
But we're really focused in on a handful of people within Metropolis. You're seeing Convergence through the lives of several of the Seven Soldiers, who are comparatively normal heroes, or normal beings as heroes, with the exception of Sir Justin, The Shining Knight, who's lived through everything from Camelot onward, and through the eyes of Scribbly as an ordinary reporter covering the story.
Nrama: So you mentioned one of the Seven Soldiers. Who all are you getting to write from that team?
Levitz: Most of the story, in the two parts, Sir Justin is the most important of the Seven Soldiers. You see a moment or two of Green Arrow and Speedy, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger gets his moment, Stripesy gets to do a couple of things. Star-Spangled Kid, by that time, seems to be off hanging with Infinity Inc., so I think he shows up in one panel.
Nrama: It must have been fun to revisit some of these characters and write them, particularly Sir Justin and Scribbly?
Levitz: What was fun for me is, Dan had said in one of the meetings when he was talking about the project, the benchmark of Alan Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel? stories, which are two of the most brilliant issues that I think Alan ever wrote. They're wonderfully human, and they were a perfect tribute to the Superman that I grew up with.
So I tried to find a voice in the narrative voice of this to kind of represent the feeling that someone in love with the characters, someone who was a fan of the superhero world, might have, trapped in this place with them.
And we'll see whether people feel that comes across.
Nrama: That's an interesting description and comparison. What do you think of the Convergence event overall?
Levitz: It's an enormous challenge to pull that many pieces together. I'm astounded that editor Marie Javins hasn't exploded. She's been an extraordinarily professional editor to work with. I deeply appreciate her efforts and her support. It's an awful lot to get done in two months, in the middle of the chaos that is trying to move a comic book company.
So I'll give it an Olympic degree of difficulty of 11, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Nrama: And you would know.
Levitz: Never tried anything like that!
Nrama: At least the regular line takes a break for awhile while they do it.
Levitz: Yeah, and the basic conceit of using it to buy some time so the line would be able to make the move smoothly was, I think, a very interesting and sensible idea. In practice, it's a lot harder than it is in theory, obviously. And then this whole effort to launch a slew of new books coming out of it makes it even more challenging.
But I don't think anybody ever accused Dan and Co-Publisher Jim Lee of lack of courage.