LEN WEIN Retells 75 Years of DCU History in LEGACIES


[Click here for a preview of DC Universe: Legacies #1]

Len Wein and some of the best artists in the industry are telling the vast 75-year history of the DCU in DC Universe: Legacies, the 10-issue mini-series that starts this week.

And according to Wein, it's like nothing he's ever written before.

"I have rarely been as proud of anything as I am of this project," said the legendary Wein, who is best known for creating DC's Swamp Thing and Marvel's Wolverine. "Initially, it was a lot of work and research, but it's been worth every bit of it. And it looks just beautiful."

Celebrating this year's 75th Anniversary of DC Comics, Legacies features artwork by some of the comic industry's most recognizable talents, including Scott Kolins, Joe and Andy Kubert, Dave Gibbons, J.G. Jones, Dan Jurgens, Jose Garcia-Lopez, Rags Morales, Jerry Ordway, George Perez, Walt Simonson and J.H. Williams.

"There's a framework for each story. It starts in the present with our protagonist telling us the story before we flash back to see the history," Wein explained. "Those pages are drawn by Scott Kolins in a style you've never seen him use before. It's amazing."

After Kolins sets up each issue's lead-in, a flashback is drawn by a different artist as the story is told from the point of view of a normal DCU citizen.

"We see the DCU through the eyes of two characters that grew up together in the Suicide Slums of Metropolis: Paul Lincoln and his best friend Jimmy Mahoney," Wein said. "They start off together in the first issue as petty gangsters who are collecting money for one of the old characters named Mike Moran, who appeared in one of the early Crimson Avenger stories. By the end of the first issue, Paul is deciding that the life of crime isn't what he wants, and Jimmy decide to stick with it because it's the easy way to make a living. So they make very different choices, and we follow them through their lives through the 10 issues."

The series will also have co-features called "Snapshots," which will go into a little more depth on something mentioned in the lead story.

So far, the breakdown for stories and artists for the series are:

Issue #1:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: Andy Kubert (pencils) and Joe Kubert (inks).

Co-Feature: J.G. Jones.

"We start with the Crimson Avenger, who was the first costumed character," Wein explained. "Then we meet several others along the way. I don't want to give away where the issue ends, but it ends at a pivotal point in DC history," Wein said. "Each issue ends at a critical point in the DCU's history.

"The co-feature that J.G. Jones did in the first issue is a Scoop Scanlon story," he said. "Scoop is a reporter who used to appear in the first 13 issues of Action Comics. He's trying to investigate the truth behind the stories about Dr. Fate and the Spectre."

Issue #2:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: Andy Kubert (pencils) and Joe Kubert (inks).

Co-Feature: J.H. Williams III.

"J.H. and I do something a little different for this back-up story as we focus on the Seven Soldiers of Victory," Wein explained. "The old Seven Soldiers story is only about 56 pages. There was a set-up chapter, individual chapters on each of the characters, and a resolution chapter where they beat up the villain. And I thought it would be fun to do that in eight pages. [laughs] So I did the Seven Soldiers story just like that, with a set-up chapter, a chapter on each of the characters, and the resolution character.

"And J.H. drew each chapter in an individual style. It's just incredible," he said. "So the Shining Knight is done in half-tones and rendered beautifully. The Vigilante chapter looks kind of Old Western. Everything is done in very individual styles. Even when they're together, he still drew them that way. So there are a couple of group shots where you're looking at the characters, and they're done in five different styles."

Issue #3:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: Jose Garcia-Lopez (pencils) and Dave Gibbons (inks).

Co-Feature: Dave Gibbons.

"This time, the back-up story looks at the Challengers of the Unknown and the Sea Devils," Wein said.

Issue #4:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: Jose Garcia-Lopez (pencils) and Dave Gibbons (inks).

Co-Feature: Joe Kubert.

"This is one of my favorite stories I've ever done," Wein said of the co-feature. "It's a reunion of all the DC war heroes set in the '70s."

Issue #5:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: George Perez (pencils) and Scott Koblish (inks).

Co-Feature: Walt Simonson.

"The back-up story that Walt is drawing is about the science fiction characters like Adam Strange, Space Ranger and Captain Comet," Wein said.

Issue #6:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: George Perez (pencils) and Jerry Ordway (inks).

Co-Feature: "We've only got the artists for the back-ups through Issue #5 so far," Wein said.

"To give you an idea of the timeline we're following, right now, I'm working on Issue #6, and it pretty much ends about 5 minutes before Maxwell Lord puts a bullet through Ted Kord's head," Wein said.

Issue #7-8:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: Dan Jurgens.

Issue #9-10:

Lead In: Scott Kolins.

Main Story: Rags Morales.

For Wein, taking on the project was a natural because he was already so familiar with DC history. "I've been reading these books since I was a kid," he said. "I had to work to make sure everything was accurate, and I didn't tweak my style, but I did adjust the dialogue to fit the time period. For example, back in the '40s, they were not 'superheroes;' they were 'mystery men.' People assumed these were guys who just put on costumes and go out and fight crime. They didn't take seriously that these guys has superpowers."

Wein's research for the series was made more difficult because most of his own comics were damaged in a fire that tore through his house last year.

"I had pretty much a complete collection of everything, much of which I lost in the fire," he said. "So they're sending me stuff from the office all the time. Almost daily I'm getting packages of things I need to research.

"And we have to send the artists piles of things for references," he added. "They're all very tolerant men, I have to say, it's amazing what they're able to do."

As Wein has written the story of the DCU, he's had to kind of "pick and choose" what is included, because there's much more than 10 issues can cover. "It's being done from a different point of view, and there are some marvelous moments where things fell into place," he said. "There are things I don't want to give away, but you'll see that there are things that fall into place perfectly."

Wein is also writing the Human Target mini-series that ties into the TV show, which was recently renewed for a second season. He's also working in animation on series like Ben 10 and Marvel Super Hero Squad.

But it was a visit to the DC offices in New York that landed him the gig on DC Universe: Legacies.

"I was in New York, looking for work and talking about various projects," Wein said. "And [co-publisher] Dan [DiDio] brought up the very, very basic idea of Legacies. He started describing it to me, and he said, 'This is the kind of thing you used to do better than anybody.' Then he paused for a second and said, 'Come to think of it, you should be writing it!' So that's how I got the gig."

Now the writer said he's excited for readers to finally see what he considers a labor of love for himself and the artists who have worked on Legacies.

"It's something I think everyone is going to enjoy, because I'm telling it all in a different way, from the point of view of the guy on the street," he said. "We're touching on all the highlights, and there are new parts of DC history in there, as we consolidate and link things together. It's so hard to explain the book. When you read it on Wednesday, you'll understand."

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