Every fan familiar with the modern monthly series put out by DC Comics are familiar with the concept of superhero legacies – costumes and mantles passed down across generations of heroes from the Green Lantern to even Batman. But in May of 2010, the publisher will launch a series of stories exploring that concept, from the inception of the DC Universe through the modern day, with "Legacies," a ten-issue series written by Len Wein and drawn by a rotating cast of classic artists with Andy and Joe Kubert handling the first issue. DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio shared the early details exclusively with CBR.
"We get asked a lot about the history of the DC Universe," DiDio said. "It's one of the things that's always been a topic of 'With so many changes and revisions and events...when are you going to tell the definitive history of the DC Universe?' I had bought those 'History of the DC Universe' books that came out after 'Crisis On Infinite Earths,' and that was more of a textbook. It was more of a listing. I've never been big on timelines, because as soon as you put a timeline down, you have to revise it because our characters don't age at the same speed as actual time. If they did, I'd have these 80-year-old guys in these baggy suits that would look really ridiculous.
"Because of all that, what we need to do, and what we're trying to do, is build this 'Legacies' book. 'Legacies' is a series that breaks down, over its chapters, the five generations of the DCU. They're very concise generations, each with a beginning and end, and what you see is the various incarnations of our characters evolve, change and grow as the generations pass on. In that way, we build what might be called a timeline, not in a calendar way, but told through story as the world changes around them. We've got a lot of touchstones of events and storylines throughout the DCU that we'll hit."
DiDio explained that while the series would touch upon all the marquee superheroes expected in a universe-spanning DC event, the crux of the story will have a very personal, ground-level feel. "We're seeing the Flashes change. We see the Green Lanterns change. And we see how the world evolves around them by seeing it through the point of view of two characters and how their lives change and how their families' lives change in watching the DC Universe grow. It has a bit of a 'Marvels' feel, which I still think is a wonderful book, and I think it's wonderful to tell the history of the DC Universe in this manner. We tell stories, and it makes more sense to tell this info in a story than in text."
The opening story takes place during comics' Golden Age with an appearance by DC's original masked crime-fighter, the Crimson Avenger. "For the most part, people look at the Crimson Avenger as the first costumed here, so it only makes sense for him to be in there. The interesting thing about the first generation of heroes – and it's one of Len's favorite things, so I'm going to give it away – is that there's change in that first generation alone. We go from the mystery men of Crimson Avenger, the Atom and the Sandman who are introduced in the first issue, to the second issue [where] you see the first time characters have actually changed costumes. You see the advent of the superhero from men in suits and jackets and cloaks to something more along the lines of the spandex. You see the birth of the superhero through the characters' evolutions, which is exciting."
Fans can expect a mix of modern production values and classic cartooning as the the Kuberts – son on pencils, father on inks – revisit the earliest days of comics. "The very first arc deals with the early days of the mystery men, and that's drawn by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert to show you the amount of value and weight we're putting into this series," the Executive Editor said, noting that each "generation" of "Legacies" will be drawn by a specific art team. "It was fun to find the teams that best represented those particular moments in time...Andy's taken a lot of the style that he built with 'Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?' and brought it to this book. But he was excited and intimidated to be working with his father. And the best part of his father being involved is that Joe keeps asking for more pages. So now I don't have to do that job. Let dad do it!"
And while DiDio remained tight-lipped about who would draw the series beyond that point, he did reveal that each new arc would also include additional story material to flesh out the full extent of the legacies at DC. "In each story, there's a lead story and a backup story focusing on interesting aspects of the DCU that didn't exactly fit the main story, but were worth touching upon."
Overall, the expectation the publisher has for the series ties in to the current state of DiDio's plans for the DCU beyond the idea of playing in the same sandbox. "It's one of the things I've wanted to do ever since I got here, and it never seemed right. But now it seems right. One of the things we're looking at, post-'Blackest Night,' is a very locked down sense of the rules and sensibilities and interpretations of our characters, and we don't plan to be reworking them as sporadically as we've done in the past."
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story noted the series was only seven issues long. Late today, DC Comics sent word that the series will run ten issues, all told, and be accompanied by other legacy-focused projects such as "Who's Who" and "History of the DC Universe." For more, check out Robot 6!
Check back with CBR soon for the first interview with Len Wein on "Legacies!"