Comic Wire

Mon, November 27th, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

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KURT BUSIEK AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES

AN IMAGINARY STORY

[Kurt Busiek
Kurt Busiek
He's got a head for classic comic continuity and we know he can do team books. So would Kurt Busiek and DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes be a good fit together?

The world may never know.

"Shortly after [writing Marvel Comics miniseries] 'Marvels,' I was suggested as the new writer for 'Legionnaires,'" Busiek told fans at DC Comics' official Astro City message board last week. "At least one editor said something on the order of 'Gee, I dunno -- 'Marvels' was good, but that's not really the approach we want with the Legion.' I'll always remember that, simply as an example of how easy it is to get pigeonholed -- to at least one professional, 'Marvels' didn't show I could write, it just showed I could write 'Marvels,' nothing else."

Which isn't to say that he never got to write any members of the teenage superhero team.

"I did wind up writing 'Valor' for four issues shortly thereafter, and had a ton of fun.

"I've never been offered the Legion outside of the two issues of 'Valor' that featured 'End of An Era' [which tied up the original Legion stories before rebooting it after the 'Zero Hour' miniseries] -- but yes, I'd like to write the Legion someday. Unfortunately, I don't think I should write it any time soon.

"The thing is, I think the Legion needs a reboot. Yeah, again. I think this last one was a good idea, but it just went too far, changing characters, events and context not just for the sake of modernization, but for the sake of being different. And the essence of the Legion, the history, the characters -- they were pretty much fine all along; the need for a reboot was twofold. First, it allowed DC to present a cosmetically up-to-date Legion, which doesn't really mess with anything important but makes the book visually more commercial. And second, it allowed DC to slough off all those tangled developments that had made the Legion something almost unrecognizable, something so different from the essential ideas that made them so cool in the first place. The Legion should be young, the Legion should be hopeful, and the Legion's future should have serious threats in it, but it should be a basically positive future. Any future where intergalactic peace is guarded by a teenage club has gotta be a positive one, or the conceit just falls apart.

"So what I'd want to do with the Legion is pretty simple. Reboot. Go back to the original history, and dress it up with a modern surface -- but change as little as possible. No snakes. No members that are thinly disguised Marvel characters. Just a recognizable Legion that looks like the classic Legion with a fresh coat of paint and a big-budget production design.

"Then, what I'd do is map out all the history, so the whole 30th Century (er, I guess it'd be the 31st Century now) context was all worked out; there could be hints of the Khunds before they ever show up, elements that come out of nowhere in the original history could be seeded in all along, that sort of thing. But then, rather than retell the stories we've already seen, I'd advance through that history by telling stories we haven't seen -- not stories that replace the classic tales, but stories that run alongside them, so new readers can thrill to them as new adventures, and longtime readers can see them as 'the missions we never saw,' but be content that all the stuff they grew up with happened alongside it. Sure, we'd have to retell some stories -- The Sun-Eater, and other crucial turning points. And they might play out a little differently. But only enough to keep old readers on their toes, not so much that you end up with something that doesn't feel like the 'real' Legion.

"And, of course, most of those early stories are all about plot. There's plenty of room for exploration of characterization, social structures, how various bits of Legion lore got established, and on and on and on. The early Legion glosses over a lot of development, a lot of stuff that could make for exciting adventures and drama if told in a modern context and style -- without overturning the essence of what they did establish.

"That's what I'd do. Unfortunately, I think the last thing the Legion needs right now is another reboot. They've been battered by too many of them, and another one would destroy any credibility the team has -- readers couldn't expect the next new status quo to last more than a few years either, and that's hell on reader loyalty.

"So I like my ideas for the series, but I think now's the wrong time to do them -- even if DC was interested in me doing the book.

"But you never know. Maybe someday ..."

FAERBER ON TITANS' TOMORROWS

Sure, the newest issue of DC Comics' "The Titans" just hit stands, but writer Jay Faerber is already giving fans some peeks into their near future.

"Chanda is history," Faerber told fans at DC Comics' Titans message board last week. "#23 is the last we'll see of her (for the foreseeable future). Did she betray the Titans? We may never know. She claims she didn't, and Roy seems to believe her, but that may always be ambiguous. Two things are for sure: Roy's going to have find a new nanny, and the Titans are going to have to beef up security!"

A new (apparent) superhero named Epsilon has been hanging around recently, and in the latest issue of "Titans," he seems to be one of the only people on Earth who isn't confused by a trick that's left Troia an unknown to all her family and friends. Faerber's not spoiling that surprise any time soon.

"He's supposed to be mysterious. Why would I give details away here, on a message board? But just in the interest of playing fair, I will tell you that all bets are off as to his true identity. He may be someone we've seen before, or he may not. You'll just have to read the book to find out!"

In other Titans matters, Faerber said fans could look forward to a "glimpse" of Beast Boy in issue #25 and more use of Tempest's mystical powers.

As for Donna, while her identity problems with presumably be straightened out, the guest appearance of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in the last issue doesn't mean the two will be getting romantically involved again any time soon.

"While I bet Kyle will always have some sort of feelings for Donna, I don't expect them to be explored anytime soon, simply because Judd Winnick (the 'Green Lantern' writer) seems to be heading in a different direction."

PREVIEW: 'EL DIABLO' #1

[El Diablo]
El Diablo #1 Preview
He's an old west outlaw, a man of few words, known more by reputation than by fact and incredibly violent. One more thing: El Diablo is apparently a ghost.

As Brian Azzarello told the Comic Wire on November 6, the new DC/Vertigo "El Diablo" miniseries reviving their classic character is "a noir spaghetti western."

And given that "El Diablo" reads like a much darker version of "Pale Rider," Azzarello's preferences in westerns might not be a surprise.

"I like the Italian westerns. But the American westerns, which you're supposed to like, don't really do anything for me. There's no moral ambiguity," he said. "I'm much more from the Clint Eastwood school than the John Wayne school. It's like the Beatles or the Stones."

"El Diablo" #1 is scheduled to be in stores on January 31.

THE COMIC BRIEF IN BRIEF

Thanksgiving dinner may be with you for weeks to come, in the form of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey a la mode, CBR's Comic Brief has a taste of things to come:

  • Preview: 'Names of Magic' #1

  • Image Comics solicitations for product shipping February, 2001

  • Preview: 'Gen13/Fantastic Four'

  • Preview: 'Usagi Yojimbo' #44

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