CASB: An Open Letter to Paul Levitz

Dear Mr. Levitz,

I hate writing these; I only do it to creators whose work I genuinely admire and who I want to see avoid cliche pitfalls towards which they seem to be heading.  I know in my heart that every person to whom I have addressed these can do better than what I've seen.  With some recent Legion additions and announcements, I need to air some concerns.  I know this is probably futile, as you are the master of long-term story planning and are probably already deep into the marrative planning, but I need to say this.  It's been bothering me ever since I heard the teaser in your interview.

You have created a new character that I absolutely love, and I am afraid that your plans to reveal a new teammate as evil will involve her.  I speak, of course, of Dragonwing.

A lot of Dragonwing's characterization codes her as evil.  She is prickly, confrontational, impatient, overly competitive, prone to using excessive force, and incredibly sarcastic.  Her powers are inherently destructive, with "acid powers" in particular almost always belonging to villains.  Yet, she is a refreshing departure, a spanner in the social works of the Legion.  In a team where nearly everyone is now an old friend or nice at their core, she is a new element that could easily mix things up again.  Hers is a personality that would do well in a team book's cast, where she could easily be developed into more than just "the bitchy girl with the bad breath powers".  Making her the evil traitor figure would be terribly predictable and betray any hope for variety in the Legion's personalities.

If you are looking for a Legion compatriot who could turn out to be evil, might I suggest the agonizingly obvious choice of Harmonia Li?  Any potential she once had as a successor to Rond Vidar went out the window in the wake of Titanfall; it's not so much the act itself as her total lack of reaction to the fact that she just destroyed a civilization and rendered an entire race nearly extinct.  She has shown no grief, no remorse, and no basic sense of perfunctory apologeticness for the cost of her curiosity.  In any other book or plotline, someone so cold-hearted would be cast as the villain.  Yet the Legion accepts her aid with open arms?  They let her start the same project over not only on another inhabited world but one which one of their former leaders calls home?  And now she offers herself up for membership, and it's given serious thought?  Immortal vaguely-defined elemental or no, her behavior screams "sociopath", and even worse, the heroes' shrugging acceptance of her without much reservation screams "Mary Sue".

You are a professional, Mr. Levitz; I know you have creatively matured beyond Mary Sues.  I have long given "I hate what the other guy did and will now horribly undo it all" spite in comicdom a pass, and your swiftness in disposing of every character and plot element that Geoff Johns' brief run tried to introduce shows that you are not immune to it.  But I know you are above a character who acts appallingly yet is treated in-story like a wonderful addition.  Please do not subject readers to that Fanfiction.Net-level torture.

There is a chance that you could do exactly as I hope, even if it means faking out readers with the possibility that Dragonwing is a baddie after all before the reversal.  But I am afraid that the dreadful Dr. Li has become your new pet character and that you will squander the potential of your great new creation just like you did with Johns' contributions.  It would be way too cliched and hackneyed to have the one girl who has some verve be the "bad" one, while the polite but terrifyingly cold one remains.  But when you promise a showdown and give us the Generic Blue Blog o' Evil being killed with what amounts to a Care Bear Stare, I am genuinely worried you will go down the path of least interest/logic/ethics/creativity.

I have not disliked a Legion addition as much as Dr. Li; I have not seen such a potential for wasted character creation since the Archie Legion's Bataan Death March of nowhere stories and Jim Shooter's intensely creepy Threeboot run.  If this storyline plays out as instinct is suggesting it will, I do something I never wanted to do.  I will drop the Legion, and it will be the fault of a serious blunder on the part of one of the men who defined it.

Please, Mr. Levitz, prove my suspicions wrong about this.

Sincerely, a Legion loyalist


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