Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Since the end of 2011 is right around the corner, it’s as good a time as any to look forward to what DC may bring us in the next year. The fun part is, the (relatively) eclectic New-52 relaunch has made these sorts of predictions a little less accurate. Nevertheless, I think DC remains a fairly conservative publisher overall, at least in terms of the kinds of comics in its superhero-centric main line, so we can make some educated guesses. The fact that all but one of the New 52 featured well-established characters (and the 52nd was Batwing, buoyed by Batman Incorporated) doesn’t exactly hurt either.
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Accordingly, we start with two of DC’s most prolific titles which haven’t yet been reintroduced in the New-52 context: Adventure Comics and World’s Finest Comics (or, as you might know it, Superman/Batman). Both were on the pre-relaunch roster, but neither appears likely to make a comeback. Pre-relaunch, Adventure had become the second Legion of Super-Heroes title, following a brief run of Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul Superboy stories. The New 52 has since filled both roles, both with Legion Lost and the Legion: Secret Origins miniseries, and with the revamped Superboy. Adventure could come back as an anthology, but the New 52 already has the ongoing DC Universe Presents and the miniseries My Greatest Adventure for spotlights and new-character tryouts. As for Superman/Batman, changes to the Man of Steel’s overall outlook may include this relationship. Put simply, I don’t see the New-52 Superman teaming up with the (same old?) Batman on a regular monthly basis — at least, not right now.
Paul Levitz‘s return to the Legion universe has been under way for the past several months (writing the character’s early days in Adventure Comics and the regular ongoing stories in Legion of Super-Heroes). With a gamut of issues already out I thought it would be a great time to discuss his work. Plus I got an opportunity to find out what it was like to be a student of Frank McCourt, as well as how a journalism class during that era helped strengthen his writing ability. My thanks to Levitz for indulging my questions and DC’s Alex Segura for his assistance in facilitating the interview. This Wednesday, September 22, will see the release of Legion of Super-Heroes 5.
Tim O’Shea: Before our Legion discussion, I would be remiss if I did not ask about being taught English at Stuyvesant High School by Frank McCourt (as mentioned at this Midtown Comics Times Square signing in May 2010). What were some of the major lessons you took from his instruction? Did you stay in touch with McCourt after high school–did he know how successful you became as a writer?
Paul Levitz: McCourt was teaching English, not yet officially Creative Writing, when I was his student. Vivid memories include the range of literature he opened our eyes to—Achebe and Mishima, the examples that still stick with me, and their very different world views and life experiences. He was very encouraging to me about my interests in comics, and my fanzine publishing, which was great. We stayed lightly in touch—I recall sending him the trade of Great Darkness when it first came out, and an email note back—and saw each other several times after he became an author. The best moment was a fund raising dinner for Stuy’s 100th, at which he presented me with an award (predominantly for my work on the 100th Anniversary book about Stuy). The other lesson, from a distance in time, is the power a good teacher has—looking at the long list of writers who came through his classes over the years, and our attachment to him. It’s one of the reasons I’m starting to teach now.
When I first interviewed Jeff Lemire back in early 2008, I knew he was immensely talented. But in terms of his creative path, quite honestly, I always expected his career to follow along the lines of the Essex Country Trilogy and Sweet Tooth. So earlier this year, when announcements came along that he would be writing an Atom one-shot/followed by a co-feature ongoing in Adventure Comics (which have seen releases in the past two weeks), as well an ongoing Superboy series, while the news caught me by surprise–it was the pleasant kind. This interview took place in late June prior to the release of his Atom work, as well as the announcement of his DC exclusive commitment. My thanks to Lemire for the discussion, as well as sharing with me a photo of the one-of-a-kind Jeffords action figure he had made (see this entry at his blog for more photos of the figure).
Tim O’Shea: In an April CBR interview about your Atom work, you revealed a clear affinity for the Silver Age science fiction roots of the character. With that in mind, are you hoping to explore the white dwarf dynamics of the character’s powers–or are you hoping to explore the science potential of the Atom in other ways?
Jeff Lemire: The white dwarf matter will be a central part of my story. I don’t want to say too much more with out giving away spoilers though. As important to me is establishing the character of Ray Palmer. What kind of man is he? Where did he come from? What does he want moving forward in his life. And I have tried to develop an exciting superhero plot that reflects this examination of his character.
As a part of their 75th anniversary, DC Comics has recruited several artists to recreate covers from classic comics, which will be used as variant covers for several of their books this year.
Yesterday they revealed another one, this time by Joker artist Lee Bermejo, who draws the cover to the last chapter of my favorite Legion story, “The Great Darkness Saga.” You can find the original cover after the jump.
DC’s July solicitations include such high-profile titles as Brightest Day, Justice League: Generation Lost, three Grant Morrison Bat-books, Neal Adams’ Odyssey, and the 50th issues of Ex Machina and Green Lantern Corps. We’ll touch on some of those in this modest survey.
However, as usual, it was an eclectic group of books which caught my eye … starting with a feature I wasn’t expecting to see.
NIGHT AND DAY
I hate to dismiss a series which I’d like to read before it’s even seen the inside of a comics shop, but I think the Atom Special and its subsequent co-feature may do better in collected form than in single issues. I base this on the quite-possibly-irrational notion that a significant amount of DC readers want to read about the Atom, but don’t especially want to follow the Legion of Super-Heroes.