When DC Comics rebooted its creative teams as part and parcel of last year’s New 52 company-wide relaunch, there were still a few creators who remained with their respective series. Notable among them, writer Paul Levitz on “Legion of Super-Heroes.”
One of the most well known writers to tackle the Legion during the team’s decades-long history, Levitz rose to prominence in the ’70s and ’80s for his work on the title with artists Keith Giffen, Mike Grell and more. The one-time President of DC, Levitz returned to the book in 2010, joined by artist Yildiray Cinar. Francis Portela took over as series artist in September, and together the two have been responsible for introducing the team to the newly-overhauled DC Universe, focusing on the world of the 31st Century as much as the individual Legion members.
While “LoSH” has dealt with some of the fallout from “Flashpoint,” the event miniseries that led to the rebooted continuity, Levitz joked with CBR that he did not think his new Huntress/Power Girl series “Worlds’ Finest” or the reemergence of Earth 2 would affect the status quo of the Legionnaires, saying, “Oy! Isn’t the world of the Legion complicated enough already?”
The first arc of “Legion of Super-Heroes” saw Levitz and Portela dive into the rebooted inaugural issues with a returning “LoSH” menace: the evil alien race known as the Dominators. Focusing the alien bad guys and the world of the 31st Century in “LosH” while Levitz and artist Chris Batista’s current miniseries “Legion: Secret Origin” feeds into the United Planets and the Legion’s background as well, the writer doesn’t believe readers should worry that “Legion of Super-Heroes” will get mired in 31st Century politics. “I don’t think comics are particularly fun when they focus on politics,” he said. “But exploring these questions in the background can be enriching and amusing.”
Though the first arc of “LoSH” has ended, Levitz confirmed that the Dominators will continue to be a presence in the book, continuing to plague the Legionnaires for the foreseeable future.
“Francis draws such wonderfully scary Dominators, we’re building out their world and their rules a bit: ‘rule the fourth: we are all food’ is particularly charming,” Levitz said, adding, “A cycle starting in issue #9 has two Legionnaires kidnapped to the Dominator home world, and follows the events than ensue.”
Speaking about his second story arc, which begins with issue #6, Levitz told CBR that the book will take a good look at Dragonwing and Earth, following the relatively new Legionnaire as she returns home to China.
“The story — it’s just two issues long — has some interesting moments looking at some of the less-happy outcomes for portions of China in the 31st Century — the damage that pollution can cause, and a movement that combines a ‘return to greatness’ theme with the kind of body enhancement that will be possible in the future,” Levitz said. “Lots of visual fun (and a bit of the Dominators’ home world, just as foreshadowing)!”
While some DC titles have committed to long arcs spanning seven or eight issues, Levitz is keeping things short with another single-issue story on the heels of the Dragonwing two-parter, though the veteran writer did not think his story lengths were that different from the rest of the DC line-up as a whole.
“I’m not sure my average arcs are shorter than a lot of DC titles,” Levitz said. “Certainly in my ‘old school’ days, they might have been the longest DC had at the time — I think Sensor Girl ran over a year. I just try to let them run their natural length.”
Touching on his single-issue story in “Legion of Super-Heroes” #5, which was penciled by legendary artist Walter Simonson, Levitz said he looks forward to having more chances to bring in big-name artists to do individual issues. “I hope that we’ll be able to keep interesting artists dropping by for issues to ease Francis’ schedule as needed,” Levitz said. “The complexity of the Legion’s world and cast makes it more fun to have different artists do different aspects occasionally.”
While the series’ eighth issue is another single-issue story, this time featuring classic “LoSH” artist Steve Lightle handling art duties, along with a second guest artist familiar with the futuristic super hero group. “Issue #8 will also have a Yildiray Cinar story,” Levitz told CBR. “I gave him his home city of Istanbul to play with for the future — and Lightning Lad, one of his favorite characters.”
Levitz praised series regular artist Portela, admitting that Portela’s skills in using computers to make 3D models of Legion Headquarters for art references was a bit beyond the writer.
“I’m amazed by what Francis can do. I’ve seen some of the models, but I can’t claim to understand the technology enough to be able to ‘use’ them,” the writer confessed.
Looking at all the Legionnaires new and old in “Legion of Super-Heroes,” Levitz admits that after years of writing them, he still gets a thrill tackling the characters. “There’s so much depth available to work with, they all still surprise me. Recently, I’m having great fun with Phantom Girl, particularly in the “Secret Origin” tale, a character who I never spent much time with in the past. And the story with Walter gave some nice moments to so many of the group.”
“Legion of Super-Heroes” issue #6 hits shelves February 15. “Legion: Secret Origin” issue #5 releases February 29.