Recalling A Failure

Recalling A Failure 150 150 Paul Levitz

There are quite a number of projects from early in my writing career that I regard as failures: either assignments that I took on and dropped midway for one reason or another (lost KARATE KID when Carmine felt–probably justifiably–that I wasn’t ready to write series yet; abandoned TEEN TITANS faster than Kid Flash could have when LEGION became available), or where I just blew it.

Probably the best of my failures was WONDER WOMAN. Jenette Kahn asked me to take on the series because she felt I wrote female characters well. I hadn’t loved the character growing up. Bob Kanigher’s long run in the 1960s had felt like the weakest of DC super hero titles, and while I had enjoyed Denny O’Neil’s Diana as Diana Rigg issues, that wasn’t really Wonder Woman anyway. I was rooming with Marty Pasko when he wrote his tales, so probably prejudiced in their favor, but all in, not a member of the pantheon I was aching to script.

Thinking through the possibilities, I focused on an elect in her mythos that I did find fascinating: she was the only one of the great heroes who had given up immortality to take on her heroic role. Surely that would be a key that could unlock good stories!

Except I challenge you to find the least homeopathic drop of that idea in the three and a half issues I wrote before running in despair. No fault of editor Ross Andru, an immensely affable man if not the most script-focused of editors I’ve worked with, or of Jose Delbo, who was in the midst of a long run on the character that never failed to be solid and professional, delivering on the potential of whatever (often weak) scripts he was given by me and others.

So all the more I celebrate the wonderful work that George Perez did a few years later, breathing new life into the Amazon Princess and her mythology, and to the many great stories by others that built upon that sensibility.

Sometimes, as Shakespeare said, the fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves. That particular one was one I can’t explain, even to myself, and it’s part of why I gave a sigh of relief this month at the generally warm welcome for my AVENGERS arc. I really wouldn’t have wanted to fail on that one.

1 Comment
  • You certainly wrote female characters very well. The Legion shone brightly in the 1980s when Dreamy was featured as Legion leader, and more so when she stepped down but continued to hover over the other male characters. Those were my favorite moments of the series. She was both strong and sensitive, physical and intellectual, charming and carefree. Nura truly came to life under your guidance and was my favorite member of the team, especially during Greg LaRocque’s brilliantly classic run as your artist.