Monday, April 02, 2007

If you were waiting for Jim Shooter....

You can let your breath out. Supposedly, Jim Shooter was in line to work on "a" Legion book starting this summer, as Rich Johnston reported last fall in his "Lying in the Gutters". Back then, it got an "amber", which means "there's likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn't set". In hindsight, if he was going to be working on a book this summer, that would suggest that he was planned to be the next writer after Tony Bedard's 6-issue arc (following Mark Waid).

Well, in today's LitG, Rich says that whatever it was that Shooter was possibly planning to do, isn't going to happen.

With Mark Waid leaving "Legion," many thought this would be the moment Jim Shooter would take over the book.

That was certainly the belief at DC. Many of the people who had a problem with Jim Shooter elaborated upon here [in a 2004 interview], have left the corporation, or have found their influence reduced, and the appointment had Levitz and DiDio's direct blessing.

However, in a twist of fate, I understand Shooter has left the Legion project on his own. Before anyone even had the chance to announce it.

No fear, Shooter's got his own project to work on based around selling the Kaballah to children, called "Seven." Not "Ten." I don't know why.

Rich is the only one who had alleged information on this, so there's no public corroboration one way or the other that this was going to happen. He has been wrong before, but he's been right a lot too.

There's been some grumbling and mumbling about how great it would be to have Shooter back writing the Legion. They remember his Adventure stuff in the 60s and his Superboy stuff in the 70s. But that was 30 years ago. In the meantime he worked fairly successfully at Marvel until the late 80s, then essentially co-founded Valiant and helped build that company up in the early 90s (he was gone long before Valiant went out of business). It's been 15 years since he wrote comics, I have no idea what he'd be like today.

I poked around a little bit on the Valiant web site looking for info on Shooter's time there, and found a reminder that Tony Bedard worked there too at its height. I also found this 1998 interview with Shooter, in which he proposed a Legion book ten years ago but got shot down. You may have heard of this before, and it's something that Rich alludes to above, dealing with the end of Shooter's reign as Marvel Editor in Chief in the late 80s (which included, among other things, Shooter's role in the Marvel vs. Jack Kirby controversy).
I called Paul Levitz (DC VP) about 2 weeks ago and I said "you know Paul, I've been thinking about this for a long time- I think I’ve got one more Legion story left in me, so here's what I propose: I’ll do it sort of like the Watchmen – a long story that you can collect it into a book... 'Jim Shooter's last Legion story', set in the time period back when I used to write the Legion... I think I could do something good, I think it would be fun, so what do you think?", He said "I want to read it", so I said what's the next step? He said, more or less, “It's a done deal. I'll call you Friday when I get back to the office (he was in San Francisco) to finalize it". He said, “Think about what reference (old Legion books, etc...) you need, because I know you don't have files of your old stuff.”. We both talked about how great it would have been if Curt Swan, who’d drawn some of my old stuff, were still alive to do it. Anyway, we agreed that we were going to do this, and that we’d work out the details on Friday. I said okay... but I want you to know Paul, there are some people you have working on your staff who don't like me, and they might not be happy with this. He said oh, there's a couple who will sulk in a corner for a while over it, but don’t worry- I'll take care of it.

He didn't call me Friday, he called me the next Tuesday. He said "well, the scars are deeper than I thought. There was so much hatred and resistance and upset... I gotta keep peace in my house, I can't go through with this." I said "You know- like I said- I’ve thought about writing this story for years, and the reason I never called you before is because I knew this would happen. I don't even know why I called you now". This is what I'm up against; I can't get work. Am I such a bad writer that no one can use me?

That's all right, though. I've gotten work in other places...

Here's what he says in his 2004 interview that Rich mentioned:
TH: What about the "last Legion story" you were rumoured to do?

JS: I proposed writing one last Legion of Super-Heroes story, a ten or twelve parter that would make nice trade book, to Paul Levitz. Paul agreed to do it. Then we talked a few days later and he told me that there were people at DC who hated me, and were up in arms at the thought of my doing any work there. Paul said it would be "more grief than either of us needed," and that was the end of that.


RAB said...

This is a good thing.

Even under the most ideal circumstances, which this would not have been, a new Shooter Legion wouldn't merely be competing with his old stories -- some of which were spectacular -- but with old fans' idealized memories of his work. Even Steve Englehart, who has been writing continuously for all this time and is as good as he ever was, ran into trouble when he and the late Marshall Rogers came back to Batman a couple of years ago. They did a good story, but it was a very different kind of story to the ones they did long ago, and a lot of their most ardent fans groused that it didn't live up to their recollection of the old work.

And of course, Shooter isn't remotely the writer he used to be. I'd much rather remember Shooter's Legion run than see it tarnished by comparison with something that could only be weak at best.

Can't say I'm thrilled by this Kabbalah thing either. Didn't Shooter hear they were looking for a new Captain Action writer? Now that's a gig I'd have liked to seem him get...

Michael said...

That's the point I was trying to make. He's not the 13 year old kid who introduced Ferro Lad and Karate Kid. He's not the guy in his 20's who worked with a young Mike Grell. He's not the same guy who wrote "Secret Wars" 20 years ago in his 30s, or the same guy who re-introduced Magnus, Robot Fighter when he was nearing 40, 15 years ago. Who is the same as they were 15, 20, 30 years ago?

That said, I would be interested in "The Last Legion Story" from an Elseworlds perspective.

Matthew E said...

Ben Morse of Wizard magazine has an 'Ask Ben Morse' thread on the Comicbloc forums. A while ago, I asked him about who was going to be writing S&LSH after Bedard. He confirmed my impression that DC was in negotiations with someone with 'a good pedigree' (my phrase).

But since this Shooter thing came out I asked him again and he said he no longer has any idea who's going to be following Bedard.

Jonathan Miller said...

It's worth mentioning that "the guy in his 20s who worked with a young Mike Grell" wasn't always tops either. When I met Grell a few years ago, he told me that Shooter's scripts (which he hated) were what drove him from the book. Now, admittedly, this was 20, 25 years after the fact and memories might be clouded, but Mike is pretty notorious for speaking his mind when he doesn't like something.

I've heard it rumored that it was Mike Carlin who put the final nail in the "Last Legion Story" coffin, by the way....

All that being said, I'd still have loved to read it.