“Wow, Jim, I’m sorry to hear about all the trouble you had while on Legion of Super-Heroes. I get the feeling Mark Waid probably went through something similar when he returned to The Flash. His LoSH run doesn’t read like it went through too much editorial interference, but I bet it was a little disconcerting when Justice League of America brought back the original incarnation of the team, instead of using Mark and Barry Kitson created.
Anyway, great overview. You had a lot of good ideas and it’s a shame not all of them made it into print. I’ll be honest, though, I’m a little confused by the rationale for Invisible Kid becoming Stealth? How did his attraction to Gazelle convince IK that he was a woman stuck in a man’s body? Maybe I missed something…
Also, was bringing back Sun Boy your idea? I was glad he came back, but I notice it’s not in the original overview.”
Because of developments in reboots subsequent to my run on the LSH in the 1960’s, there had been much discussion and suggestion for years that Invisible Kid was gay and had gender issues. My intent was merely to follow through and pay off on what others had teed up for me.
Halfway through my story, while at the Baltimore Con, Dan DiDio invited me to breakfast. The main subject of discussion: Dan informed me that I had to write Karate Kid and Duo Damsel out of my story because Geoff Johns was using them in some storyline of his. I asked how Johns had the right to usurp those characters. Dan said that Johns was so late with his scripts that his books went in and out of the house before things like that could be reviewed and considered, much less changed. He had written the beginnings of his story, which made it to print, and therefore it was fait accompli. My scripts, on the other hand, were far ahead of schedule, and therefore, could still be changed. Reward lateness, punish the guy who’s ahead of schedule….
ASIDE: DC required that writers provide six-month overviews, well in advance, to head off such continuity clashes. I always delivered my overviews promptly. I doubt that Johns bothered. I may have been one of few who did deliver the overviews. One of them follows this answer.
Furthermore, DiDio said, one Johns’ book — JLA — sold nearly 100,000 copies a month, which made him their number one writer. He had clout. I didn’t.
I pointed out that with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and other household name stars, that if Johns was selling only 100,000, he was leaving DC short a few hundred thousand a month, in my opinion.
No winning that fight.
The sad thing is, as it turned out, Johns was using the seventies versions of the LSH characters. There was no real need at all to change my story.
The DC DiDiocracy in action….
I think re-introducing Sun Boy was the editor’s idea. Fine by me.
Here’s a sample DC six-month overview, required ostensibly to help coordinate continuity. DC provided a template with specific questions to be answered: SERIES TITLE:, ISSUE #:, COVER DATE:, STAND ALONE ISSUE: Y/N:, SYNOPSIS:, GUEST STARS:, VILLAINS: and MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS:.
SERIES TITLE: THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
Jim Shooter (w), Francis Manapul (p), Livesay (i)
ISSUE #: 40
COVER DATE: May 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 1 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 4th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS: “Headlong Into Darkness”
To save her world, Shadow Lass fights alone against a Life-Eradicator—and the mystery of their nature and origin deepens. Meanwhile, conflict between Timber Wolf and Saturn Girl violently explodes. Has Lightning Lad abjectly failed as Legion Leader? Yes and no….
VILLAINS: Alien Life-Eradicators from beyond the known universe; also Deputy Health Minister Bootweeze
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: PRINCESS PROJECTRA snaps! The loss of her world, her fortune and her station drives her to irrational, even murderous rage—a hint of things to come.
ISSUE #: 41
COVERDATE: June 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 2 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 5th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
With uncanny, newfound, hideous strength, Princess Projectra rampages in downtown Metropolis, and even Timber Wolf isn’t powerful enough to stop her. A mysterious intruder, M’RISSEY, seems to be stealthily undermining the Legion. Invisible Kid, Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl attempt to spy on a secret United Planets operation—and the Legion is BUSTED!
VILLAINS: A Life-Eradicator that will not die!
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: Guest Penciler: Aaron Lopresti, Guest Inker: Matt Ryan. And, introducing the UNITED PLANETS YOUNG HEROES! Stand aside, Legionnaires.
ISSUE #: 42
COVERDATE: July 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 3 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 6th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS: “Fear and Clothing”
An all-out combat issue with Legionnaires in spectacular super-action! The war against the dreaded Life-Eradicators draws a team of Legionnaires, including Ultra Boy, into an epic battle on Rimbor, his home world—where, by the way, he is wanted for MURDER!
VILLAINS: A new, deadlier generation of Alien Life-eradicators and the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Zilya Popoff
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: The Legionnaires get NEW COSTUMES!
ISSUE #: 43
COVERDATE: August 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 4 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 7th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS: “The Leader Who Lost the Legion”
While Science Police search parties ransack the HQ, two away teams of Legionnaires fight like cornered wolverines against vicious enemies on strange and distant worlds. Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 SELLS OUT the Legion’s greatest secret—the technology of the FLIGHT RING! New villains, stunning action and the United Planets SHUTS THE LEGION DOWN!
GUEST-STARS: Special appearances by GAZELLE, SPY, VOICE and SONAR of the United Planets Young Heroes
VILLAINS: Introducing IKILLES, Pirate-King of the marauding IKONN space pirates. Also, the beautiful, powerful, deadly Pirate-Queen CAZHMIR.
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: Two Legionnaires make their LAST APPEARANCE! KARATE KID and TRIPLICATE GIRL are GONE FOREVER, taken a thousand years into the future by the KNIGHTS TEMPUS!
ISSUE #: 44
COVERDATE: September 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 5 of 5 of the “Enemy Rising” sub-arc; also the 8th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
SYNOPSIS: “Operational Calculus”
On planet Velmar V, Invisible Kid singlehandedly defeats IKILLES, and frees Light Lass who, displaying startling power, trounces the IKONNS. On planet Rimbor, Ultra Boy and the team fiercely battle heavily-armed Science Police—and Atom Girl gets into a one-on-one catfight with the brutal S.P. COMMODORE. Meanwhile, at the HQ, the mysterious M’RISSEY—a good guy, as it turns out—saves the whole LSH organization just in time to prevent the Rimbor team from being overrun!
VILLAINS: IKILLES, CAZHMIR and the murderous IKONNS! Also, the COMMODORE and an ARMY of Science Police at her command bent on taking down the Legionnaires on Rimbor, and on Earth, S.P. Colonel Pismo.
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: Alternate cover by the great NEAL ADAMS!
ISSUE #: 45
COVERDATE: October 2008
SYNOPSIS: “Monster in Our Midst”
A Saturn-sized INTRUDER PLANET suddenly appears in solar space, and its gravity threatens to destroy the Solar System! Brainiac 5 forces Light Lass and Star Boy to achieve new, unbelievable levels of power, and averts gravitational catastrophe. Meanwhile, Lightning Lad and Element Lad “pacify” the dangerous, rampaging BLUDGEON BROTHERS. And Saturn Girl is caught cheating on Lightning Lad…with Ultra Boy!
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 1 of 4 of the “Enemy Manifest” sub-arc; also the 9th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
VILLAINS: The BLUDGEON BROTHERS, the INTRUDER PLANET
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: The LSH is no longer a servant of the United Planets—they’re free, independent and, furthermore, granted status as an INTERPLANETARY CONSERVATOR ORGANIZATION, which gives them DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY! Free at last!
ISSUE #: 46
COVERDATE: November 2008
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 2 of 4 of the “Enemy Manifest” sub-arc; also the 10th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
The “monster in our midst,” the “evil rising,” the “evil manifest” is revealed—It’s PRINCESS PROJECTRA! She possesses newfound powers drawn from the spirits of the dead of her destroyed homeworld Orando, and with a small, loyal band of subjects who survived, she plots an ascent to her “proper” station as Queen of the Galaxy. Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 discovers that the Intruder Planet is the source of the Life-Eradicators, and a tense vigil begins. Ultra Boy, overwhelmed with guilt over his tryst with Saturn Girl, winds up in a barroom brawl with a group of United Planets Young Heroes wannabies.
VILLAINS: Princess Projectra; the BUGGLIES: FLEA, TSETSE, SLUGG, ROACH, LOUSE, and SKEETER; and the INTRUDER PLANET/LIFE-ERADICATORS
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: PRINCESS PROJECTRA, now the SPIRIT QUEEN of ORANDO, is revealed as the arch-enemy of the United Planets, the Legion and all it stands for.
ISSUE #: 47
COVERDATE: December 2008
SYNOPSIS: “Blind Love”
Brainiac 5 visits a spiritualist, MEANDER, in an attempt to understand the “visitations” by the ghost of his beloved Dream Girl that take place in his dreams. Meander allows Dream Girl’s spirit to occupy her body so that she and Brainiac 5 can have a “date” that culminates in a marriage proposal. Princess Projectra, who now has vast powers over the ids of her victims, frees horrific, inner demons that Brainiac 5 had suppressed who BLIND Dream Girl’s spirit before Brainiac 5 can cast them out or destroy them—thus eliminating the threat of Dream Girl’s predicting and ruining her plans.
STAND-ALONE ISSUE? Y/N: No. This issue is Part 1 of 2 of the “Dream Wedding” sub-arc; also the 11th issue of the 18 comprising the overarching “One Evil” saga
VILLAINS: The vicious and powerful uberdemon IDJIT and his deadly hench-demons, BITER, BEATER and LAFF
MAJOR CHANGES/EVENTS: Guest penciler: Rick Leonardi, Guest Inker: ??? (MIKE!) Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl get engaged—and that’s a little tricky, considering that she’s dead! Introducing MEANDER, Mistress of the Mysterious. Dream Girl’s spirit form is BLINDED—including the loss of her precognitive ability!
Friends who are long time LSH fans helped bring me back up to speed with the Legion. I heard about the gender-issue thing from them. Also there was mention of speculation re: Invisible Kid's orientation on Wikipedia.
I wasn't the one who originated the concept that Element Lad might be gay. I don't know who did.
there had been much discussion and suggestion for years that Invisible Kid was gay and had gender issues.
…Much of this "discussion" occurred within the confines of the APAs that the Bierbaums were involved in. One line of discussion even went so far as to claim that IK had a relationship with Chemical King. As CK was post-Shooter retconned into being a protege/patient of IK's, and had been from a rather early age, the proposed relationship was at best considered by most who read it as being a violation of the doctor-patient relationship. At worst, it was a potential case of pedophilia based on whenever IK and CK initiated sexual congress. As the originator never AFAIK ever clarified this last point…well, let's just say this was a "hot potato" anytime the topic was raised on either the old BBS networks or on Usenet's comics-related newsgroups.
…And while we're on the subject, the whole idea of Element Lad being gay also originated in the APAs, again the ones the Bierbaums participated in. However, there was talk that this concept actually originated from you. Any comments on that one, just to set the record…er, straight?
Thanks, Jim! The answer's very much appreciated. I started following the Legion during the Waid and Kitson run, which is why I hadn't known about Invisible Kid's gender and sexuality issues. I'd also forgotten that Johns' and Brad Meltzer's "Lightning Saga" story took place during your run on LoSH; sorry about that. It would've been the perfect story to bring the new Legion into the modern-day DCU, and it's a shame Johns and DC didn't jump on that. Although the follow-up stories Geoff did in Action Comics and Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds were pretty good.
Thanks for your detailed answer to T's question and the eight-month overview.
Nothing during the years of DiDiocracy (great term!) gives me any reason to believe the upcoming reboot will save DC.
DiDio is originally a TV guy and Johns started out as Richard Donner's assistant. I suspect they were brought in as part of a long-term strategy to transition DC from comics to TV and movies. Johns is already in LA. When will DiDio join him? I think that in the long run, a lot of comics industry folk will go Hollywood. Literally. Superman will always be with us, but most people don't need him every month, much less in multiple titles. A movie once in a decade and a TV show here and there might be enough. As you said in 2000,
"Some day, someone's got to say, do we really need to publish these? Can't we just own the characters and use them in cartoons and things like that? Other people license characters that don't have comic books? I think that lightbulb may go on."
I know you don't have inside knowledge, but you have more knowledge and experience in the business than most pros today, so I appreciate your take on what Warner and Disney are doing. It may be useful to think of DC and Marvel as Warner and Disney now.
Optimists may say, indies don't need the Direct Market anymore because they've got the Internet. But self-publishing online is both easy and hard. Easy to press buttons. Hard to gain an audience. To challenge "Disney and Warner's marketing muscle," as you put it.
The $uper Villains are still in charge. Sad.
The industry needs heroes. Now.
I think "pamphlet" comics are very threatened right now. I suspect — just suspect, no inside knowledge here — that DC and Marvel are doing it on purpose. With both Disney and Warner's marketing muscle, they could be driving a new era of success and prosperity for print comics. But then, the rising tide lifts all boats. Allowing — or causing — pamphlet comics to die out sweeps the field clear. Minimizes or eliminates annoying small companies and indies. Shoves them underground, literally or figuratively. Buries them or super-marginalizes them. Shifts the overwhelming majority of the business into their, Disney and Warner's, wheelhouse.
You are correct, entertainment will continue, and comics in some form will continue, but DC and Marvel abhor the Direct Market. It's a cost-plus business. The discount to Diamond is intolerably deep. And they will no longer tolerate it.
And, I think they don't give a rat's ass about comics shops. They care about shareholder equity. They care about category domination. And they care about their phoney-baloney jobs, big salaries and big bonuses.
Flying Tiger Comics
DC is about to reboot its reboot of its reboot (etc.)- Jim, what do you think? Comicbooks will continue but is this the end of even the last loyal 40,000 reading DC (and Marvel) in monthly comics?
Retailers are already saying that DC moving to simultaneous digital release is a vote in favour of LCS closing their doors… What think you?
See issue #3.
Speaking of the Legion of Super-Heroes, has Jim watched any episodes of the animated series which were based on his stories? I found it amusing that Keith Ferguson provided the voices for both Karate Kid and Nemesis Kid. According to Wikipedia, Jim intended Ferro Lad to be a black guy back in 1966. Was Dave Wittenberg an appropriate choice for his voice or should Andrew Nolan have sounded deeper?
Considering how many characters were used throughout seasons 1 and 2, I'm disappointed that Princess Projectra never appeared in the cartoon. Even though Chemical King never said a word,at least he showed up in a crowd scene so it's odd that Princess Projectra was left out of the TV series like that.
Speaking of continuity, will there be any Lovejoy Industries references in your new Turok run with Dark Horse?
It depends. Marvel, when I was there, was too big to do lockstep continuity, but the conceit of the line was that the mainstream books all took place in a shared world, and therefore we took pains to avoid egregious conflicts. It worked pretty well. At VALIANT, I did lockstep continuity because I could, and because it gave us a point of difference. DC alleged a shared world, but couldn't coordinate at all. Their continuity was and is a train wreck. The 60's DC, where each series was pretty much stand-alone, and the occasional team-ups were sort of in their own spacetime was okay by me. A little puzzling or annoying from time to time, but okay.
ASIDE: While I was writing the LSH, because mine was the only book set in the 30th Century, I was able to keep a fairly consistent continuity. I owned the future!
So, my opinion is that you should figure out what you're going for, then do it well.
Technically, Geoff Johns' team book around 2007 was JSA not JLA. However, Geoff did indeed contribute 2 chapters to "The Lightning Saga" crossover starring the JLA and the Legion of Super-Heroes which caused Val & Luornu to be removed from Jim's plots. It's quite possible Dan Didio planned for Geoff to take over JLA at the time as soon as Brad Meltzer left the title.
The funny thing is there's a very plausible rumor going around that Geoff will write JLA for the first time this year. It's a shame that Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds (which was written by Johns) never hinted at the meaning behind Karate Kid's sign left behind when he and Triplicate Girl disappeared. I think at least one panel could have been spared for that.
By the way, I noticed the hardcovers for "Enemy Rising" and "Enemy Manifest" didn't include Shooter's or Manapul's name on the spine. I know it's standard for the writer and artist to be named on the spine of a DC collected edition nowadays but was this out of the ordinary only 4 years ago?
@MichaelBrady +1. I too want to know.
By now long-running series are just ridiculous to try and follow. Super groups especially have such turnaround that it makes my head spin.
BTW Thanks to JayJay and Jim for your insight into the world of comics. It has re-sparked by interest in them and made me approach them differently. I love this blog. Keep it coming! Well worth the read every time.
Jim, how do you feel about continuity in general? Tightly controlled, a free for all, or somewhere in-between? Speaking only from a fan's perspective, I've almost let go of continuity entirely and simply want to be entertained. I don't need the a whole publishing line to mesh exactly. Maybe it's my age showing, but a strict continuity just seems impossible, and an audience's complaining about the eventual slip-ups seems silly. How do you feel about it from the publishing side of things?