Long Live Levitz's "Legion!"

Long live the Legion! After a veritable plethora of events and co-features in the recent DC Comics library, the Legion is getting its due once more. This month, the Legion of Super-Heroes returns in a new ongoing series following the events of Geoff Johns' "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" storyline in "Action Comics." Writing the title is "Legion" legend Paul Levitz, who makes his return to the Legion after last writing their adventures twenty years ago. During his career, Levitz served as a writer on numerous different occasions from 1981 to 1989. "It's a bit like showing up at a reunion," Levtiz told CBR News, "seeing how everyone's life has developed in the intervening years, except with a certain amount of god-like power to affect the results...kinda fun!"

According to Levitz, his involvement and own current god-like power with the book began when he became available to write again, following his tenure as President and Publisher of DC. "When I became available as a writer again, and the Legion feature in 'Adventure' was coming open, it was an immediate fit. [There are] not that many folks lining up wanting to do the Legion, and my past history made me more credible there than on any other assignment," Levitz told CBR News. "As the story developed, Dan [DiDio] and Geoff [Johns] became enthusiastic about it, and wanted to launch with a #1, so 'Legion' got its own title, and 'Adventure' remained as a secondary feature."

In light of Levitz's legendary run with the Legion, it stands to reason that he'd have a killer story worked out - and it looks as though Legion fans won't be disappointed in the slightest. "The initial arc is "Earth-Man's Choice" and deals a lot with the intriguing character developed in Geoff's 'Superman and the Legion' arc, a man who is a hero by his own definition, but with goals that the rest of the Legion finds wrong," said Levitz. "He goes through some changes, and their view of him is challenged as well. Meanwhile, a world is destroyed, populations rebalanced, and relationships affected. Meanwhile, in 'Adventure,' chunks of the Legion's past are revealed that haven't been explored before."

Joining Levitz for art duties is rising star artist Yildiray Cinar, whose run on "Legion of Super-Heroes" will mark the artist's first ongoing series with DC. With his recent work on "Teen Titans" and "Noble Causes," Cinar is no stranger to team books, but according to him, the Legion represents a challenge beyond basic team dynamic and design. "Actually it was tough for me to start a career in team books!" Cinar revealed. "After several small gigs, I found myself working on 'Noble Causes' with Jay Faerber and I learned a lot there. As you might guess, drawing a team book is challenging, but it has also lots of advantages. Drawing a huge cast and different characters makes the work less static and more fun. Of course, I am not saying that drawing a single character book is boring, but you always have lots of opportunities to play with the characters and try different things in a team book. As for 'Legion,' it's the biggest one because there's not just a huge cast to play with but also different planets, architectures, aliens etc. We're all going to see, together, what time will tell about my work on this book."

While Cinar wasn't exactly a Legion of Super-Heroes fan before joining the book, he admitted that Geoff Johns that initially got him interested in the modern interpretation of the Legion and its characters. "Regretfully, I never got into a Legion book before," he said. "It was with Geoff Johns' run on 'Action' and 'Legion of Three Worlds' that I exactly learned the characters. But of course, I'm familiar with a lot of characters from the team from old DC books."

However, that doesn't mean that Cinar hasn't done further research to prepare for his new gig. "For now, I'm examining the references DC is sending me," he said. "I also searched for some old issues from Paul's run and I am reading them these days. Also, I try to do character studies every now and then."

Cinar's work on the book isn't done by a long shot, but he did mention some of his favorite characters so far. "I'm still working on everything, but having lots of fun with Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl. For now..."

While Cinar didn't join the book until the first several issues were written, Levitz says mentioned that he hopes to have more writer-artist collaboration in the future. "The initial scripts were done before I knew Yildiray was on the series or had a chance to meet him, so it's been a sequential collaboration," he said. "Now that we've had a chance to get used to each other (and finally even met face to face), I hope we'll be able to exchange ideas more frequently."

Levitz's opinions on the challenges of writing the Legion were similar to Cinar's, dealing mainly with the scope of the cast and characters - but that's not the only challenge for the veteran writer. "It's a vast cast, which is the book's appeal and burden," he said, "and unlike the previous two times I arrived on 'Legion,' it's not an established top seller, so we have to create momentum."

Despite re-building the Legion from the ground up, Levitz is still excited to see the team's fans' reactions to the new series, and it's no wonder considering what's in store for the coming months. The first story-arc promises a tie-in with the Green Lantern Corps and the destruction of a major planet, and if that wasn't enough, Levitz will also be taking on storytelling duties in "Adventure Comics" this June (Levitz was previously editor on the original "Adventure Comics" beginning in 1976), which marks the shift of the Legion to the main story slot, exploring the Legion's past origins as Levitz explores the present in the title proper. "[There are] so many lives to play with, so many worlds and characters to work with," Levitz said. "There's an opportunity for constant evolution and change, which isn't easy on many comics series."

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