Friday, December 12, 2008

Waid, DiDio chat on Legion stuff

In separate interviews, Mark Waid and Dan DiDio have commented recently on the past, present, and future of the Legion. Thanks to roving reporter Murray for bringing both of these to my attention.

DiDio, via his 20 Questions column on Newsarama:

4. Do thresholds change in terms of the performance of a book? Do they change in tighter times? After all, we’ve seen a number of DC books cancelled recently...

DD: Some of the books were cancelled for story reasons; some were cancelled because of sales reasons. We don’t have a consistent answer for how these books are being handled – especially when you saw some of these things being done. But that said, people are going to realize very quickly that the cancellations of Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey and Legion of Super-Heroes are occurring for a very specific reason...

18: Any more information available on Adventure Comics? Can you confirm or deny that it will be the vehicle for the Legion of Super-Heroes?

DD: I can confirm and deny – that’s even better. I will tell you only one thing about it - Adventure Comics #0, even though it is reprinting the first appearance of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, it will also have a six page “Omens and Origins” that will get everybody talking and address multiple questions that are out there right now.

Oh, and it’s $1.00.

Waid, via chat on CBR's Comics Should Be Good. Here's the whole Legion part (minus a silly question about Sun Boy), but I've bolded the highlights and money quotes since I can't really pull sections out on their own, and added some line breaks to make it more readable here. Go read the whole interview, it's pretty interesting.
Brian Cronin: “With a little bit of time and perspective, what’s your take on your Legion reboot? What worked, what didn’t and what would you have done differently?”

Mark Waid: Legion reboot. Hrrm.
Mark Waid: I think what worked was a level of energy and enthusiasm Barry Kitson and I brought to the project. And I think the first bunch of issues is still really strong. But–my own failings as a writer aside (and you can look them up on the internet)–what didn’t work was the 30-page structure. It sounded great in theory–but we didn’t get started soon enough, and no way could Barry pencil 30 pages a month at the level he was working.
Mark Waid: So that meant fill-ins. But as the writer, you want the “choice” moments in your story to be told with your regular artist. BUT you don’t want to make a fill-in issue NOT important to the building story. It’s a dilemma. One I didn’t handle well, and one that made our first 12 issues feel like ten issues crammed into 12. There’s some legitimacy to the theory that the story moved too slowly.
Mark Waid: What DID work, I think, is that we DID get a BUNCH of new readers fresh to the Legion, and for every letter I got cursing me, I got one praising us for delivering an incredibly accessible book for new readers.
Mark Waid: Remember, too, at the time we relaunched, “rebooting” to the Adventure Comics days was Not An Option Available To Us. Had we simply done that, I think we’d have been revered. By 30,000 people. Big whoop.

Brian Cronin: Ha

Mark Waid: This is what I mean about swinging for the fences. I wasn’t trying in any way to be dismissive of existing Legion fans–I’m one of the STAUNCHEST Legion fans EVER, second only to Paul Levitz himself–but Legion fans alone were not enough in number to keep that franchise alive. So Barry and I tried to write for people who had never read the Legion. Like it or hate it, our run was at least eminently accessible to new readers.
Mark Waid: But something was off. We didn’t connect. I’m sure Tim Callahan will lecture me at condescending length about why that’s so, were I to ask him.

Brian Cronin: Would you have gone that route [back to the Levitz era] had it been available?

Mark Waid: I don’t think I would have gone that route, no. The Prime Directive was to make it super-abundantly clear that if you’d never read a Legion comic before, you could still pick up our book and BAM! Be in on the ground floor.
Mark Waid: Relaunching instead with a take that dated back to 1988 would never have sent that message.
Mark Waid: It’s working now, for Geoff, but the landscape’s much different than it was in 2004.
Mark Waid: Also, Geoff has DC editorial behind him. We did not. We had to get sandbagged by the goddamned “Lightning Saga” in JLA that, no fault of writer Brad Meltzer’s, was a total surprise to us and made us look like idiots.

Brian Cronin: Could you have not done a take on the Abnett and Lanning Legion that would have been accessible to new readers?
Brian Cronin: Or did the Abnett and Lanning Legion have too much of its own continuity to worry about?

Mark Waid: It’s not even that it had extensive continuity. It’s that all new potential readers BELIEVED Legion was a continuity nightmare, whether or not that was true.
Mark Waid: (Which it kinda was.)
Mark Waid: But even if it weren’t, we weren’t dealing with reality. We were dealing with perception. This is a fact: The perception was that Legion was totally new-reader-unfriendly.

Brian Cronin: But wouldn’t a third version of the Legion help bolster that?
Brian Cronin: If we’re talking perceptions, “Oh, the Legion, it’s so convoluted, they’re on their third reboot!”

Mark Waid: As opposed to what?
Mark Waid: Seriously. You’ve just advanced a total lose/lose scenario. Discuss.

Brian Cronin: But that’s what I mean – why go with what seemed to be a lose-lose scenario?

Mark Waid: Look, I agree, with 20/20 hindsight (again), the smart thing would have been to roll everything back to Levitz days. But Geoff and Gary Frank have an arrow in their quiver that we did not: Superboy.
Mark Waid: So had we done exactly what Geoff and Gary did recently–well, (a) we couldn’t have, because then-Superman editorial would have nixed it, and (b) IF we had, we’d have had to scrap everything the moment Superboy entered Legal Limbo for two years.
Mark Waid: So we would have had to retcon OURSELVES six issues in.
Mark Waid: What a quagmire.

Brian Cronin: Like the 5 years later Legion.
Brian Cronin: What was that - three issues into the new series that the reboot hit?

Mark Waid: Five issues in.
Mark Waid: What a nightmare.
Mark Waid: Look, it’s all timing. And my career is, creatively speaking, a virtual ode to lousy timing.
Mark Waid: Let’s move off Legion. You’re driving me to drink.

Brian Cronin: Hah
Brian Cronin: Sure


heffison said...

So is the more important lesson:

A.) DC editorial is Evil,
B.) Don't do the Legion if you can't include Superboy.

I lean toward A. because the only Superboy I care to read new stories about is Conner Kent, but if the Legion isn't inspired by (the young Clark) Superboy, if not actively working with him...why bother?

Bill D. said...

Hey, that was MY silly question about Sun Boy! :)

Seriously, I always thought the resemblance was so strong it had to be planned.

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

Thanks for posting the excerpts of this interview. I really liked Waid's initial run on this series, but even as they were launching a third reboot, it was so obvious it was a mistake.

A few years after the relaunch, the same problems that plagued the second relaunch started to appear. "Did this happen in this continuity or was it in other one? Is it Shadow Lass or Umbra or something else? The issue with reboots is that you can't delete from your mind the previous incarnations and that plays havok when you try to put together in your head such a big team.

Still, I'm glad they're going back to the basics. In a way I don't want versions 2 and 3 completely deleted because of what I said above, but we'll see what they come up with, now. Hopefully they will integrate all of the continuities in some way.