Friday, August 22, 2008

Newsarama's "Legion at 50" #3: Paul Levitz

Newsarama talks to former Legion writer Paul Levitz (oh yeah, he's also President and Publisher of DC, too) in part 3 of their "Legion at 50" series. Here are some excerpts:

NRAMA: One of the things we're doing as Newsarama talks to various Legion creators is asking them to name some of their favorite moments in Legion history. And many of them have pointed to The Great Darkness Saga, which is often named by fans as a favorite as well. Why do you think that story stands out among others? And do you feel like you accomplished what you were trying to do with it?

PL: I think part of the reason it stands out for the people who were there at the time was that it was the first solid use of the Kirby Fourth World mythos outside of Jack [Kirby]'s own work. For the stories that followed it taking place set purely in a Fourth World logic, it was the thing that made Darkseid a part of the DC Universe. And I think for a lot of us who were at a magic age when Jack came to DC in 1970 and introduced Darkseid, that was a character of enormous power, and to see him firmly nested in the DC Universe was a very, very cool moment. It was something I was very proud of doing at the time, and I think that had a lot of resonance.

It also was a very long and ambitious story for its time. Again, this was probably something like a 125- or 130-page story at a time when most DC comics still were 22- or 44-page stories. You'd have a rare 88-page story. So hopefully, we used the length well and were able to do something that was unusually exciting as a moment.

NRAMA: When you came up with the idea of The Great Darkness Saga, was that a goal? To bring Darkseid and the Fourth World into the DC Universe?

PL: Oh, absolutely. That was part of the magic. I'm not a very good villain creator. That's one of my limits as a comic book writer. And it was an opportunity to take this incredible villain who the Legion had never faced before, who was powerful enough to hold off the entire Legion of Super-Heroes, and use him on a very cosmic scale story. I don't remember anymore if Keith [Giffen] was the first one who suggested it or I was, but both of us were big fans of Jack's and of Darkseid in particular, and we had a lot of fun with it. I guess it must have been me, because the first story on that arc, I did with Pat Broderick. Keith didn't come in until the second piece of that story. So I guess it is my fault.

NRAMA: It's all on your shoulders.

PL: It's definitely not all me. The reason people remember that story with the affection they do and the respect they do has a tremendous amount to do with the magic that was going on back and forth between me and Keith at that moment. He added so much to that material – so much imagination – that my writing on that is better than probably any other story I did. And a lot of that is a reflection of what Keith brought to it.

NRAMA: As you look back on your run on Legion, is The Great Darkness Saga what you would call your greatest accomplishment, and if not that, what else?

PL: I bow to the will of the people. If that's what people remember as the great story, I'm certainly willing to concede it. I'm very fond of the Sensor Girl arc; I'm very fond of the four-issue cycle we did with Universo where the Legionnaires were prisoners on a prison world and I had an opportunity to really play with their heads; I'm very fond of the story we recently reprinted in the paperback, An Eye for an Eye, with the Legion of Super-Villains; and mostly, I'm fond of the fact that, when I look back, I managed a 100-plus-issue consecutive run without screwing up, which is one of the rare feats of comics, for a writer to hold the mark that long.


NRAMA: Would you ever go back to the Legion and write it again?

PL: They keep threatening me! But I tell them they have to go and negotiate it with my wife. I only left the Legion because I was at the point where the kids were young, it was knocking off three Sundays a month that I needed to be on a soccer field with my kids during the years when they actually wanted to see their father, and the day job didn't let anything else fit with it. It's the sort of book I would love to have another shot at writing someday, if I ever get to be a writer again. It's just kind of hard to do with a day job.

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