Nicieza is Stuck In Time with "Legion Lost"

When seven Legion of Superheroes members set out to stop a mysterious figure who holds the keys to Armageddon, they accidentally get marooned in the 21st century in DC Comics' upcoming "Legion Lost," one of the many titles set to debut this September as part of DC's company-wide relaunch. Penned by "Red Robin" writer Fabian Nicieza and featuring art by "Action Comics" artist Pete Woods, "Legion Lost" follows the Legionnaires as they race against time while stuck in time, trying to track down the mystery man despite the fact that their 31st century equipment has failed them.

The original Legion of Superheroes was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino within the pages of "Adventure Comics" as a team of super powered teenagers from the future who, using Superboy as their example, dedicated their lives to fighting evil. Featuring an incredibly vast and diverse team roster, the "Legion of Superheroes" series has gone through several permutations and multiple reboots prior to DC's September relaunch. While DC announced "Legion of Superheroes" will be starting over at issue #1 in the hands of longtime writer Paul Levitz, "Legion Lost" is one of several brand new titles DC will launch in September.

Taking a break from his busy work schedule, Nicieza spoke to CBR News about this brand new "Legion Lost," what drew him to the comic and, most importantly, his love for Timber Wolf.

CBR News: Does this series have any connection to the 2000-2001 "Legion Lost" series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning?

Fabian Nicieza: Other than the title and a re-conceptualization of a story concept they created for a storyline, no. I loved their run on the book, and the tone of our title has the same hard-edged sense of tension and desperation, but the storylines are different.

OK, my Legion knowledge is pretty rusty, but let's try -- are the Legionnaires on the "Legion Lost" cover Wildfire, Dawnstar, Tellus, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Chameleon Girl and Gates?


How did you go about picking Legionnaires for the "Legion Lost" team?

The roster was discussed by DC editorial before the title was offered to me. I had the chance to ask for replacements, but I was totally fine with the group as it was constituted. Lots of diversity of visuals, personality and powers.

In fact, I really wasn't planning on accepting just any new title offer coming my way for the relaunch. The virtual world I've been working on, FunGoPlay, launches June 15 (www.fungoplay.com -- great for parents and their kids!) plus I do a lot of I.P. development and management for Starlight Runner Entertainment, so I pretty much have two full-time jobs now. Coming off "Red Robin," whatever they were going to offer me had to really interest.

Obviously, the character grouping combined with the situation I came up with for them must have intrigued me!

So why did these specific Legionnaires intrigue you? What was it about the concept of "Legion Lost" that appealed?

Well, the Legion has always interested me, but more as a reader. I never thought of writing the main title because it was almost too much a burden of continuity, character count, etc. But I did always like so many of the characters on an individual basis that the offer of a small splinter cell of Legionnaires began to pique my interest, and then having the pitch automatically include some of my favorites -- Wildfire, Dawnstar and Timber Wolf -- really helped close the deal.

Because "Legion" has been rebooted multiple times, does it make it easier for you as a writer to come in re-imagine these characters?

No, I honestly didn't take this as a reboot. Other than tweaking the costumes and fudging their ages a bit so they're a little younger, I approached this entire title as if the Legion team was going on a mission between issues #12 and #13 of their title and the crap hits the fan, creating "Legion Lost" #1.

The character histories, experiences and interactions remain the same, the settings for all of that has changed. Don't even ask me, "What happens when they meet Superman in his new costume?" because I don't have the answer to that yet.

All right, scratch that question! Since the whole premise of "Legion of Superheroes" is that they are the superheroes of the future, what sets these characters apart from other modern heroes when you put them in the regular timeline?

Oddly enough, they are really fish out of water. They might be more highly evolved than we are, but they will be severely hampered once they are trapped here. They are also responsible for their own circumstances and ultimately responsible for something that could ravage the DC Earth.

In the blurbs DC put out for "Legion of Superheroes" it says the Legion is reeling from the loss of those seven "Legion Lost" members. How closely will events in these two comics be? Will there be much crossover?

Not at all. The Lost are trapped here with no way to communicate or return to the future, and the Legion of Superheroes have a very vested reason in not trying to retrieve the Lost -- because to do so would destroy their own future the way the Lost have destroyed "our" present day.

Wait, that made my head hurt a bit. You get what I mean, right?

I think so. What is the tone of the series -- is it a lot of comedy and adventure, or is it darker and quieter as these kids try to figure out how to get home?

So far, I think the tone is very dark, lonely, uncertain and filled with tension. There is some cynical, dark humor, but in the initial issues, they really aren't in a situation where they can drink smoothies and play a game of magno-ball or anything like that.

The characters have a ticking time bomb of a situation. The longer they take to stop the man they were pursuing to the past, the greater the likelihood that Earth will be irrevocably altered.

Any favorite team member to write so far?

Timber Wolf for sure, just because he is so snarky and pissed--and because he might (or might not) be infected with the pathogen they came to stop. I'm enjoying figuring out my approach to Wildfire and Dawnstar in ways that evolve them beyond the perpetual cycle of their doomed romance. And Tyroc is a great "open slate" I get to flesh out and I have lots of plans for him. Tellus is also becoming a pleasant surprise, since he is like the slow, laconic, patient voice of reason.

With your work on comics like "Robin," "New Warriors" and "Red Robin" you are kind of the go-to guy for young heroes in comics. What about writing teens appeals to you?

Must be my inherent immaturity.

I don't know, honestly. I think even at my advanced years, I still get the sense of ridiculous confidence that they know everything in the world vs. the reality that they know so little. I understand the raw feeling of new discovery, physical, emotional, etc. And I love that because they are young, they can make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them).

Finally, I know you guys are just getting started on the comics, but how has it been working with Pete Woods on "Legion Lost" so far?

I got to work with Pete on an "Action Comics" three-parter a few years ago, and since I've been a fan of his work for a long time, it's great to be working with him on a much closer level. He really is an excellent storyteller, figure draftsmen, designer and character actor.

So I guess so far, so good!

"Legion Lost" #1 hits stores in September.

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