Sunday, October 28, 2007

RUMOR: Levitz to return on a Legion project?

Here's another juicy new rumor. If I were Lying in the Gutters like Rich Johnston, I'd put it as an amber (though given the source, there's a good chance it'd be green, but without revealing sources we'll leave it amber).

According to a reputable source who recently spoke directly to a high-level DC staffer, Paul Levitz may be returning to do something significant involving the Legion. The DC staffer was asked that since we've seen the return of one old-timer such as Jim Shooter to the Legion, when would we see Levitz return? The staffer replied that s/he couldn't talk about "that project" (a direct quote) yet. I have no other knowledge about this alleged project, save that it's supposed to be pretty hush-hush for now.

By the way, this source is not the same person who told me that "Jim" would be writing the Legion (and who turned out to be right, with Jim Shooter).

Update: some more discussion at Newsarama.


Richard said...

At this rate, how long before someone finds an unused script by Jerry Siegel or Edmond Hamilton?

Terence Chua said...

Maybe it's because when I met him at San Diego, I begged him to, and I quote, "please, please, please, please, PLEASE write Legion again." :)

Mark Kardwell said...

Well, the use of the Legion in Johns'/Meltzer's/Dini's current DC comics would seem to suggest that DC are on the verge of "de-booting" (that's my word, I just invented it! Hands off!) the Legion, to some undefined, pre-Crisis, status.

That's my first guess. My second would be confirmation of multiple Legions on multiple earths, freely interacting with each other during the Legion's upcoming anniversary. With the Waid-era Legion ultimately written off as an alternate-Earth version, and a more Levitz-y line-up shifted centre stage.

So why not involve Paul in such an event? And Mike Grell. And Jim Sherman. And Keith Giffen. Make it like LSH #300 with bells on. Then hand the book over to a hot team to return it to its former status as one of DC's flagship books.

Christopher Bird said...

"Then hand the book over to a hot team to return it to its former status as one of DC's flagship books."

Yes, because god knows the best way to make the Legion hot again is to work towards appealing towards a bunch of aging fanboys, rather than new emergent comics readers.

More and more, I grow convinced that the Legion's fans are killing the book's general appeal.

You know what makes a comic a hit? People telling other people to read the comic because it's good. When was the last time anybody was enthusiastic about the Legion's most recent issue, rather than saying "well, there were these really awesome stories twenty years ago"?

The Legion will be hot again when they give it to a creative team that can write good stories without constant editorial interference and when it gets some decent promotion. That's what makes a comic successful. Not a desperate grab to people who bought the book two decades ago, for crissake.

jase said...

It all depends on how "aging" you are. I didn't grow up reading Shooter or Levitz's Legion, I grew up on Giffbaum and v4 and then the post-boot. But because as a kid I had invested so much more time in the past Legion, buying back issues, scouring around for the classic stories, when Zero Hour came around I just wasn't that interested in the reboot regardless of Mark Waid. And I didn't care for the threeboot. I loved v4, so I'm not scared of new ideas - I just need to know there will be some permanence.

While I am excited about Shooter revising the threeboot Legion and I would love to see Chris (above) writing a Legion book, I am frankly much more interested in either of them writing about the "deboot" Legion that has been created than I would be in the continued threeboot. With that, you have the best of both worlds - a fresh new voice and ideas put in the service of a beloved team with decades of history that can now be tinkered with somewhat at the writer's will.

Mark Kardwell said...

Cheers for reminding me why I try not to engage fellow Legion fans in conversation, Chris!

But seriously - why the hell not reset the team to WHEN IT WAS AT ITS MOST COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL, and then see if you can get some of the magic back? They seemed to be doing something right back then.

Plus - let's not delude ourselves: surely the only people reading superhero comics now are the thirty/forty year-olds who were kids/teenagers reading during the Levitz/Giffen/Lightle era anyhow?

Christopher Bird said...

"But seriously - why the hell not reset the team to WHEN IT WAS AT ITS MOST COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL, and then see if you can get some of the magic back? They seemed to be doing something right back then."

It was at its most commercially successful as a result of the newsstand distribution system, which is, you know, gone and not coming back. Bear in mind that Teen Titans was doing even better then, and despite a popular cartoon still in reruns and that team at its highest prominence in years, the book is sinking just like everything else DC publishes these days -

- and Titans doesn't suffer from the stigma of constant reboots, which is one of the most constant reasons people cite as a reason not to read the book, so call me dubious that another reboot to a pre-existing continuity is the answer here, especially when all those thirty- and forty-year-olds who read the books as kids are, statistically speaking, mostly people who gave up comics entirely.

But they were doing something right - they were telling good stories with creators working at the top of their game. It doesn't particularly matter which Invisible Kid is around, or whether Lightning Lad calls himself Live Wire or not. Just get good writers and good artists with a good concept and promote the book. The DnA Legion had the creative quality but not the promotion; the Waid/Kitson Legion had a bit of promotion and good creative talent but a concept that turned off the audience.

Michael said...

Technically, it was most commercially successful in 1966 under Siegel and Hamilton, selling on average over 500,000 copies per issue of "Adventure Comics". Do we go back to that?

If you go back and look at my most recent sales chart (last updated May 2007), Chris is right, you can't compare the 1980s with today's market. Unfortunately the data is not trustworthy for just the period we're discussing (only DC has the real numbers, and the estimated numbers don't work), but sales have been slowly dropping for the last 25 years. That's the market, that's not just the Legion.

Sales bottomed out and started rising for the first time in 20 years when Abnett and Lanning came on in 1999.

But no matter who's on the Legion, you need buzz. Waid and Kitson had it twice, first with the relaunch and second with the intro of Supergirl. Sales dropped for each issue after that, until it's now found its mark of about 30K. McCraw, Peyer, Stern, and Waid (again) had buzz with the Zero Hour reboot, but lost it. Before them, Giffen and the Bierbaums had it and lost it. Nobody has been able to sustain work and sales since the 80s.

But also consider what's easy to see in retrospect - the post-Crisis Superman reboot killed the Legion franchise. First they had to get rid of Superboy, then they had to reboot the whole Legion to make sure there never was a Superboy. Then they let Giffen and the Bierbaums run wild to the point where the following writers couldn't figure a way out of the mess, and their only option was a reboot. How broken is it when Mark Waid says he can't figure a way to get back on track? From there, once you've rebooted 1.5 times already (the Mordruverse counts as a half reboot), what's another one? Or two? The precedent is there, but without the Superman reboot there'd be no need for one in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I agree that well-told stories "with creators working at the top of their game" and that "good writers and good artists with a good concept and promot(ing) the book" should be the keys to success for any comic, what I don't understand is why that formula would only appeal to the "new emergent comic readers" and not to "a bunch of aging fanboys"?