Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The internet breaks in half - Levitz to return to LSH!

In case one or two of you haven't heard by now, there's been a shakeup at DC that promises big things for us in the 31st century. In a nutshell, DC's corporate bosses are realigning things such that DC Comics, now renamed DC Entertainment (DCE), is more closely under the auspices of the movie division. And that means a change in leadership at the top - Paul Levitz will be leaving as President and Publisher. However, he will stay on as consultant, editor, and writer. The big news here? He will be coming back to write the Legion.

The story actually started yesterday, when it was announced that Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul would be leaving "Adventure Comics" for a new Flash comic. Jerry Ordway will be drawing issues 5 and 6, which tie in with Blackest Night, and then Levitz will pick up with issue 7 with an artist to be named. It's unclear whether Superboy will star, as the title has been referred to today as "Adventure Comics featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes".

This morning, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily broke the news. Read DHD for all the corporate details. This plan is not a reaction to last week's purchase of Marvel by Disney, but has been in the works for a couple of years. It makes sense to me, that Time Warner should be exploiting (in the business sense) their assets, of which DC Comics is one, and it's always bugged me why DC has never been too close to the rest of the company.

But DC Comics insiders are now telling me that Levitz told senior staff this morning he will "transition out" after a new publisher is sought and found. He chose to leave after 35 years at the comic book company. Warner Bros gave him an option to stay but in a different capacity. "He was a constructive, positive partner in the restructure," a source advises me. But his reporting structure was going to change. (Previously, he'd reported to Alan Horn. One insider told me Levitz's conversation with senior staff this morning went like this, "Don't worry. No one should sweat right now. It's all going to be fine.")

According to a press release:
Paul Levitz, who has served as President & Publisher of DC Comics since 2002, will segue from that role to return to his roots as a writer for DC and become a contributing editor and overall consultant to DCE.

Diane Nelson, the new head of DCE, explained what DCE is going to be:
DC Entertainment’s mission is to deeply integrate the DC brand and characters into all of Warner Bros.’ creative production and distribution businesses, while maintaining the integrity of the properties and DC’s longstanding commitment to and respect for writers, creators and artists. The founding of DC Entertainment is about Warner Bros. taking DC to the next level and giving DC an even greater degree of focus and prioritization in all the businesses in which we operate—films, television, home entertainment, digital, consumer products and videogames.

Levitz wrote a letter of resignation to the public, which included this:
It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s heard me answer a comic convention request, “When are you going to do more Legion stories?” that I’m going to step away from my executive desk in coming months to resume my writing career, in comics and hopefully other forms as well. One of the lessons I learned from my many great teachers, from Frank McCourt through Joe Orlando and Jenette Kahn, is that creative work is more enduring than executive acts, and I look forward to adding to the stories I’ve told. Expect to see my byline at DC, as it has appeared for almost 37 years, adding what I can to a mythology and company that has my enduring affection, and expect to see me around the world of comics, which I hope never to leave. I already hear Karen and Dan sharpening their blue pencils with glee, waiting for my first pages.

... And now, if you forgive me, the future is calling.

Then came this at the DCU Blog:
You may have heard that Paul Levitz will be once again adding his considerable talent, drive and creativity to our ever expanding universe as a regular DC Comics writer.

So, what’s his first writing assignment?

Paul is returning to the title he made great as both a writer and editor, ADVENTURE COMICS, and with his eyes set to the future, he brings several of his favorite characters with him. ADVENTURE is the first in a number of projects, both ongoing and mini-series that Paul will be taking on as he joins of our list of top notch creators here at DC.

As Executive Editor, and as a fan, I can’t wait for him to get started.

-Dan DiDio

Some reactions:
  • Occasional Superheroine: Brains 'Sploded!
  • Mark Waid: I'm gobsmacked!
  • Kurt Busiek: "I'm thrilled I'll get to read new Levitz 'Legion' stories. Beyond that, I'm still stunned."
  • Ron Marz: "Paul Levitz is going back to the Legion. How cool is that?"
  • Keith Giffen: [When it comes to us collaborating on the Legion again] all Paul has to do is pick up the phone and tell me when. And if comic book fandom knows a good thing when they see it, they should be popping champagne corks at the fact that Paul Levitz is returning to the 30th Century. Knowing Paul, it's not like he ever 100% left."
  • Marv Wolfman: When 'New Teen Titans' was the #1-selling book at DC, the #2-selling book was Paul's 'Legion,' and we were far ahead of other books at DC at the time. He may not always talk about his writing, but I always look at it as the fact that the fans made the decision very clear when they chose Paul's as one of the two top books: it was that good.

In a Newsarama interview with Levitz and Nelson on what DCE means, Levitz said:
While Nelson will head the division, Levitz will become a contributing editor and consultant, as well as taking over as writer of the monthly "Adventure Comics" title featuring Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

"On the 'Legion', I have a lot of homework to do before I'm ready to hit the keyboard the first time," Levitz said, adding that he's going to have to do a lot of research.

...Yet Levitz is also looking forward to transitioning toward his new job as a writer of "Adventure Comics."

"I'm looking forward to seeing my old friends again and playing with them," said Levitz, who had a legendary run on "Legion of Super-Heroes" in the '80s. "I'm even more looking forward to seeing what I've got in me. I've been talking with writers about things about the changing world of the graphic novel and what the creative possibilities are."

CBR also has an interview with Levitz and Nelson.

Blog@Newsarama has a nice writeup of Levitz's history with DC, and Mark Evanier talks about his impact on the comics industry over the last couple of decades.

Andrew Foley weighs in on the new Legion writer:
As one of his final acts as DC publisher, Paul Levitz screws Christopher Bird ("Why I Should Write the Legion") by returning to write the Legion of Superheroes. I’d find that really exciting if I was still fourteen; as it is, I just hope he’s happy. Levitz, that is. Bird’s funnier when he’s pissed off. Sorry Boss, but it’s true.

Finally, BeaucoupKevin has a definitive explanation of what the DC Comics restructuring means to you, the fan.


Linda said...

I'll be worried about what this means for the industry as a whole once I stop drooling about the possible prospect of a Giffen/Levitz Legion reunion.

I'm such a hypocrite...I'll go on and on against this 'turning back the clock' trend in comics and how old storylines shouldn't be retreaded, and then this news comes out and I'm all squealie. Ugh. :P

Eric said...

One thing that I find VERY interesting is that L3W has just set us up so that one of the "current" legions available is one that, with only slight differences, is the one Levitz left.

Mostly, I'm just happy that Levitz has the chance to come back. Here's hoping it works out better than Shooters return. (A run I personally liked until the end, but got royally messed with due to politics.)

Christopher Bird said...

Just an aside: I didn't write that bit. That was Andrew Foley.

Michael said...

Sorry, I fixed that. The fact that you would be referring to yourself in the third person should have been my tipoff.

And anyway, you'd have to tweak some of those "why I should write the Legion" since they pretty much were written to what is now the Earth-Prime Legion and we should be getting the Earth-1 Legion.

Bytowner said...

And something else that concerns me: implied strongly in that Lo3W story is that one version that occasionally gave Mr. Levitz problems in what it did with its own version of characters he co-created still exists. And yet despite that issue, I'd like to keep that version of the LSH around in its own corner of the current multiverse.

I guess that makes me a hypocrite on creator rights, doesn't it?

Dixon said...

Fortunately, DC Comics is not being renamed as DC Entertainment. DC Comics now simply exists as a division of Warner Bros.' DC Entertainment Inc. At least, that's my understanding of the arrangement. They're not reinventing the wheel, they've simply created a new division at Warner Bros.

wmeisel said...

I am EXTREMELY excited about this. Actually, more excited than I was when Shooter came back (and I thought his run was pretty cool, despite the rushed end.)

Meerkatdon said...

Excellent news. Paul Levitz took the Legion to places they'd never been, and I'm thrilled that he will be back.

About the idea of Giffen coming back...not so much. I am not at all fond of his art, and during his tenure in charge of the Legion, he took them places that (IMHO) they should never have gone.

I have to wonder about the loose threads from L3W and set up in Adventure #1. If Johns is leaving Adventure (and fairly soon, it sounds like), will those things get resolved? I hope Johns leaves copious notes.

Definitely glad the Legion is going to be in good hands.

Michael J. MacArthur said...

Nice work on this summary. A lot of work must have gone into it.

Long Live Levitz.

Brainy Pirate said...

I'm with you, Meerkatdon -- Giffen's art was always a turn-off to me--especially his "grotesque" style--and I hope he doesn't come back as artist.