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The Future of the Future


Forty years of stories is a lot to manage. That’s why, in an effort to reinvigorate the Legion of Super-Heroes dynasty, DC Comics called on not one, but two writing talents: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. PopMatters spoke to the duo of minds behind the recent Legion Lost series to discuss the road that led to the current maxi-series, the pressures of writing such a high-profile property, and the future of the Legion in Legion Worlds:



PopMatters:

From outset of Legion Lost, what did you hope to achieve with the series? And do you believe that you met these goals?



Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning:

Our main objective at the outset of Lost (and before that, when we took over as the writing team) was, and is, to tell exciting and gripping stories…and in doing so get people talking about and reading the title once more. Legion has a passionate cadre of fans but needed to attract a new generation of readers if it hoped to be around for another 40 years. The fact that sales have risen and that Legion forums and the comics press are a-buzz with comments and reactions has got to be a good thing.



PM:

After 2 years in the “hot seat”, is it getting easier? Harder?



DA & AL:

It’s getting hotter! Actually, we’re getting more comfortable with the large cast of characters, so in some ways it’s getting easier to manage the group dynamics. Yet, as our confidence increases, so does the scope of our ambition for the book…which, in some ways, makes things harder, too, but never boring!



PM:

Was there any popular culture influence at play in your conception of Legion Lost? (E.g. Lost in Space, Star Trek: Voyager, etc.)



DA & AL:

Funnily, no. The Legion Lost storyline grew out of a combination of pitched ideas and was pretty much fleshed out and developed by the time any of us noticed the points in common with the series you mentioned. The truth is, the theme of lost castaways is a great deal older and more generic. It’s a trope that’s been cropping up ever since literature began, precisely because it has a universal resonance and can be explored in so many different ways. Besides, we felt our characters weren’t just lost geographically. They had lost their ideology as well.



PM:

The finite Legion Lost series replaced the cancelled regular Legion titles — Was the survival of the Legion of Super-Heroes as a viable title dependant on the response to Legion Lost?



DA & AL:

Let’s just say that if Legion Lost had bombed without a trace it wouldn’t have been good news for the LSH franchise.



PM:

The Legion of Super-Heroes has a publication history spanning four decades. Do you consider this history an asset or a liability?



DA & AL:

Both. Absolutely an asset when it comes to having a great tradition to follow in. It’s inspiring to feel that you are adding to something that people have been enjoying for so long. (It’s awe-inspiring when you think the comic has been around longer than either of us!) However, it becomes a liability when people confuse 4 decades of publishing with four decades of continuity. The continuity of the Legion we inherited goes back just over 5 years, period.



PM:

There has been quite a bit of talk about the deaths of Legionnaires (including that of two major characters) in Legion Lost, why do you feel that these deaths were necessary in order to progress the story you wanted to tell?



DA & AL:

We don’t believe in the wholesale “offing” of characters for shock value. Each death in Lost served an important dramatic function and evolved out of the nature of the story. We didn’t decide to kill a character and then work out how. The story unfolded the way it had to and grew organically as we went.



PM:

Do you feel that the title of the series is somewhat symbolic of the status of the Legion of Super-Heroes, both as a commercial product (to DC, its publisher) and as a piece of fiction (to its fans)?



DA & AL:

Hell, no



PM:

The Legion of Super-Heroes has undergone many changes in continuity — reboots — more perhaps than any other current comic book. Have these continual changes made it an impossible task to attract the sort of attention received by the X-Men, a book which has been around for almost as long and which also seems to have as many characters as the Legion of Super-Heroes?



DA & AL:

LSH has not re-invented itself as many times as some other books out there. If we can’t quite match the huge success of an industry phenomena like the X-Men franchise, then it’s not down to “reboots”. If we knew how to make a book another X-Men (if DC or Marvel knew how to make a book another X-Men) then we’d bottle it, patent it, and retire as millionaires! These things just happen!



PM:

What can we hope to see in the upcoming Legions Worlds series?



DA & AL:

Legion Worlds is a six-issue tour around some of the most interesting places in the DC Universe of the 31st Century. We’ll meet up with some favourite characters, discover some surprising changes, and get involved in some fast-paced adventures along the way. Each issue is drawn by a top-flight artist, helping us to create a unique vision of these singular, diverse and exotic worlds. During the course of the series we’ll catch up with the state of the Legion-verse and the main players therein and see the Universe without a Legion — it’s not a good place to be…



PM:

How long do you plan to stay on the Legion and how far out do you have Legion planned? Is DC Comics committed to keeping at least one Legion book on the shelves?



DA & AL:

We’ll stick around as long as we feel we have good stories to tell. We tend to plan out stuff about a year in advance but nothing’s ever written in stone. DC’s commitment to the Legion is a constant and enduring thing: 40 years of publishing kind of proves that.



PM:

Finally, what is the best part of writing the Legion of Super-Heroes? The worst?



DA & AL:

The best part: the words: “THE END” The Worst: a blank piece of paper!

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