BACK TO THE FUTURE: Shooter Talks "Legion of Superheroes"

In 2008, the Legion of Superheroes celebrates their 50th anniversary as defenders of the 31st Century, and who better to helm the time traveling team than Jim Shooter, the writer synonymous with the title during its glory years in the '60s and '70s. Scheduled to return with issue #137 in December, Jim Shooter told CBR News he has huge plans for DC Comics' "Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes" and their milestone anniversary.

"My first arc is 16 issues. As far as I know, I'll continue on the 'Legion of Superheroes' after that," revealed Shooter. "We have several big, actually huge events planned for the first storyline, worthy, I think, of the 50th anniversary year for the Legion. I can't tell you those. I can tell you that the Legion and the Legionnaires will grow and evolve, but everyone says similar things about whatever series they're writing, don't they?

"I can tell you that many of the things I liked about the Legion way back when will become more important, like the membership tryouts, the councils and the missions to fantastic worlds. There'll be a new take on the Legion Academy. I'm also introducing the Legion Reserves. Night Girl will be reintroduced as one of that group. There'll be lots of new characters. A few will depart. There will be lots of new worlds, new technologies, new revelations about the 31st Century and beyond. I hope that by the end of the first arc people feel that every issue was significant, that the series has evolved dramatically, and for the better."

How's that for a sales pitch?

Shooter, who would go on to become Editor-In-Chief at Marvel between 1978 and 1987, made his first big splash in comics as a 14 year-old when he successfully pitched DC Comics four Legion stories in 1966. Beginning with "Adventure Comics" #346, the four books introduced some of the team's most beloved characters including Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, Ferro Lad, and one of their classic super villains, Universo.

"My first stint started 42 years ago, but I did write a few stories for [editor] Murray Boltinoff in the mid-seventies, so it's been only 31 years since I wrote the Legion," quipped Shooter. "About ten years ago, I discussed with Paul Levitz possibly doing a Legion project, which I referred to as 'Jim Shooter's Last Legion Story.' The idea was that it would be a ten or 12 issue story featuring 'my' Legion of Super-heroes of the 1960s, an untold story from my run on the series back then, so as not to interfere with anyone else's continuity. Apparently, a few editorial people at DC objected to my working there, ultimately they got their way and the project never happened."

Known for its sizable roster, Shooter said the Legion's membership will remain status quo, for a little while anyways. "At the beginning, the roster will be the same as those at the end of the Waid and Bedard runs," teased Shooter. "Atom Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Colossal Boy, Dreamer, Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Star Boy, Timber Wolf, Triplicate Girl and Ultra Boy. I think that's all. The roster soon changes, though."

Shooter says that like a proud parent, he loves each of the Legionnaires equally, but when pushed, he would have to go back to the beginning to choose a favorite. "I know it sounds like an evasive answer, but I get involved in whichever character or characters I'm writing at the moment, and at that moment, they're my favorite, and I can't imagine a better character," said Shooter. "But if you pressed me to pick favorites objectively, I suppose I'd go with the original three: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy."

That being said, Shooter says his run does not tie directly into Geoff Johns' upcoming Legion story in "Action Comics," which will feature the team's three founding members, nor will it touch on "Lightning Saga" or "Final Crisis," for that matter.

"Because 'The Legion of Super-Heroes' is 1,000 years in the future, and, in a way, its own little universe , the book isn't as involved with the big crossover stories as most other titles, though the effects will be felt," explained Shooter. "We haven't really tied-in with the 'Lightning Saga' or 'Action Comics' much, but thanks to on-the-ball editor Mike Marts, we've coordinated with them pretty well, I think."

Shooter says the Legion having their own corner of DCU to protect is part of the team's strength, but the tangential line connecting the team to its premier players defines the Legion, as well. "The Legion of Superheroes is as limitless as tomorrow," Shooter declared. "We have a little corner of the DC Universe pretty much to ourselves. Therefore, we can keep our continuity tight and our world consistent. We have all the advantages of being part of the same mythos that contains Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, et al, but very little of the burden."

Never one to back down from a challenge, Shooter has high hopes for "Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes," his first major project for DC Comics in nearly 20 years. "My goal is to make "Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes" the most relevant and most important title," stated Shooter. "Don't laugh. We've got a terrific editor, a great penciler, an outstanding inker and a wonderful basic concept, young heroes in a fantastic future. I figure if I just pull my weight..."

The penciler on the book is Francis Manapul and the inker is John Livesay. "Francis is amazing. He's a rising star," said Shooter. "He draws wonderfully well. He's a storyteller. He's a dramatist. His work is dazzling. It has that innate appeal Stan [Lee] used to call 'glamour.' Few times in my many years have I been as eager to see what the penciler did with my script as I am with Francis and I've worked with some very heavy-duty Hall-of-Famers."

Shooter, who keeps busy working for Illustrated Media, a company that produces comics for advertising, promotions and premiums, says now that he is back writing for DC, he's be open to writing any of the company's big hitters. "I'd enjoy writing pretty much any of the household name characters. But, I'm also open to new things. Right now, the Legion is keeping me busy, but maybe down the road a ways, I'll take on something else," said Shooter.

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