Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Animated Legion series: what we know so far

An ongoing summary of my "Animated Legion news" bulletins...


(click to enlarge)


Originally posted 3/7/06.
Update 3/09/06: Added logo, voice director, characters
Update 3/11/06: Added Brainiac 5 concept drawing
Update 3/12/06: Added Brainiac 5 voice actor Adam Wylie
Update 3/13/06: Added Emerald Empress voice actor Jennifer Hale
Update 3/14/06: Added Justice League Unlimited info
Update 3/21/06: Added Superboy voice actor Yuri Lowenthal, background designer Eric Canete
Update 3/25/06: Added story editor Rob Hoegee
Update 4/06/06: Added Cosmic Boy and Triplicate Girl
Update 4/08/06: Added info on 13 episode season
Update 4/15/06: Added Winema Wazzo voice actor April Winchell
Update 4/16/06: Added writer Matt Wayne
Update 4/24/06: Added CW network info, official description
Update 4/26/06: Added staffers Ben Jones, Amy Wolfram, Derrick J. Wyatt, and Irineo Maramba
Update 5/01/06: Added preview picture
Update 5/02/06: Added Cosmic Boy voice actor Wil Wheaton
Update 6/01/06: Added Dave Johnson, updated Allen Heinberg, updated cast picture
Update 6/13/06: Added Mekt Ranzz
Update 6/21/06: Added writer Stan Berkowitz, new image and logo
Update 6/22/06: Updated Superboy/Superman status
Update 6/27/06: Added David Slack, writer
Update 6/28/06: Added AJ Vargas, co-producer
Update 7/01/06: Added Phantom Girl voice actor Heather Hogan, character designer Glenn Wong
Update 7/06/06: Added Timber Wolf voice actor Shawn Harrison, Bouncing Boy voice actor Michael Cornacchia


The Powers That Be had been pushing for an animated Legion series for a long time, at least as early as 1998. The Legion had already been seen twice in the DC Animated Universe, once in a 1998 episode of Superman: The Animated Series titled "New Kids in Town" that featured Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, and Cosmic Boy along with a pre-Superman Clark Kent against Brainiac, and once in a 2006 episode of Justice League Unlimited titled "Far From Home" that featured Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy teaming up with Supergirl, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern against the Fatal Five.

The new Legion of Super-Heroes series was quietly but officially announced on March 1, 2006, and publicly announced on April 24. A working logo (strongly reminiscent of the 1973-79 Superboy and the Legion logo) was unveiled on March 9 on Comics Continuum, while the first team picture was shown on the SupermanHomePage on May 1. The new logo and a promotional image of the team (above) was shown on June 21 at the 2006 Licensing Show.

The first recording session for the series was on Feb. 10, 2006, when they had a big meet-and-greet with all of the voice talent and producers. One voice actor was told it takes about 6 months to complete an episode. There will be thirteen half-hour episodes in Season 1, already in production. The show will be part of the "Kids WB!" block on the new CW Network in the Fall of 2006, set to air at 11 a.m. Eastern time. US production on the show is expected to be complete by the end of July, with only the overseas animation left to do.

The KidsWB! press release announcing the show gives the premise for the series:
LEGION OF SUPER HEROES, 11:00-11:30 am: In the year of "Superman Returns" at Warner Bros., Kids' WB! is proud to present a new series developed especially for the "Too Big For Your TV" block by Warner Bros. Animation, inspired by the DC Comics legend. One thousand years from now, a group of teenage super heroes travel back in time to recruit the greatest hero of all, Superman, and enlist him their fight against evil in the 31st Century. While their intentions were good, their time travel skills were not, and Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy and Timber Wolf end up going too far back into the past, accidentally retrieving the young Superboy the young Superman, before he moved to Metropolis. Together, this unlikely Legion of Super Heroes bands together to defend the rights of all free worlds and uphold the laws of the newly formed United Planets. That is, if they don't kill each other first. LEGION OF SUPER HEROES combines humor with high-stakes, grand-scale super heroics to create the ultimate sci-fi, super hero fantasy for kids of all ages. Each episode of this fast-paced, character-driven action comedy will pit Superboy and the Legion against otherworldly threats and adversaries who challenge the team on both super heroic and emotional levels. The series is executive produced by Sander Schwartz, and produced by Linda Steiner and James Tucker for Warner Bros. Animation.

One unknown is how the recent legal case over the rights to the character of Superboy may or may not impact the series. Unconfirmed reports say that "Superboy" is being re-dubbed to "Superman", supported by the change in wording of the press release (see strikethru above).

People who are involved with the series:
  • James Tucker (IMDB), a former JLU co-producer, will be in charge of the Legion series. He has been shepherding character design.
  • Linda Steiner (IMDB) is a co-producer and joins the team from the Teen Titans show.
  • AJ Vargas (IMDB), an associate prodcuer of the Titans show, is another co-producer.
  • Stan Berkowitz (IMDB), former JLU writer, has written at least one episode of the show (not on staff).
  • Eric Canete (IMDB, blog) is a background artist for the show. Canete has been a storyboard artist for The Batman, Teen Titans, Men In Black, Godzilla, Starship Troopers, and Aeon Flux. In the comics world, he is also known for his WildStorm series Cybernary 2.0 and has worked on Majestic, MEK, and Deathlok.
  • Rob Hoegee (IMDB) is a story editor and co-producer for the series. Hoegee is another refugee from the Teen Titans series where he was a writer and story editor.
  • Ben Jones (blog, IMDB) is a director and did the same for the Titans show.
  • Dave Johnson (MySpace) is on the art team, probably in a role similar to Art Director.
  • Irineo Maramba (IMDB) is a storyboarder and ex-Titans staffer.
  • Norm Ryang (IMDB, blog) is the prop designer. He did a lot of the props and backgrounds on the Teen Titans show.
  • David Slack (IMDB) wrote one script for the show as a freelancer.
  • Kelly Ward (IMDB, info) is the voice director. Ward started out as an actor (the blond T-Bird Putzie in "Grease") but moved to voiceovers and then moved on to producing, writing, and voice directing.
  • Matt Wayne (IMDB), a former writer on the JLU series, will be one of the staff writers on the show.
  • Amy Wolfram (IMDB) is a freelance writer and is an ex-Titans staffer.
  • Glenn Wong, another ex-Titans designer, is doing character designs.
  • Derrick J. Wyatt (blog, IMDB) is a character designer and ex-Titans staffer.

People who are NOT involved with the series:
  • DC Animated Universe head designer Bruce Timm is NOT involved in the Legion series.
  • It was rumored in 2005 that Allan Heinberg ("Young Avengers", "Wonder Woman", TV's Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, and The O.C.) would have a big role with the series. At the time, he was the main story editor and wrote the original series bible, but left due to other commitments. He's not with the show any more.

This probably incomplete list of characters is based on who has already been voice cast or has otherwise been confirmed, and who have only been seen in the concept drawings. Lightning Lad will be the Legion field leader. The fact that at least two Legionnaires will be recurring (and not regulars) suggested that the Legion show might be modeled after the JLU cartoon, with a core group and lots of others who appear from time to time. Writer Matt Wayne confirmed as much: "It will be a takeoff on the classic Legion, but like the JLU, we’ll pick and choose characters to use." As for villains, Tucker has said, "It's safe to say that the Fatal Five will be showing up several times, as well as a few other well known Legion foes," while Jones said we'll see "a mix of old Legion villains and new characters."


Heroes

Villains
  • Emerald Empress (Jennifer Hale: IMDB, official site)
  • Mano
  • Persuader
  • Tharok
  • Validus
  • Mekt Ranzz, brother of Lightning Lad


Early. Concepts and model sheets were commssioned by at least two artists, including Ovi Nedelcu, and Ben Caldwell. These two drawings below are early concepts from series designer and head honcho James Tucker (the group shot was colored by a member of the LegionWorld message board). Compare the early concept with the first released picture.





Let me know in the comments section if you know anything I don't have up here.

2 comments:

Scott said...

Michael, check out today's Comics Contiuum. Plenty of new to update this post with! :)

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this comic are coming soon to be animated, with a many special upgrades and new character, when this animated version is there I spend several hours watching them.