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Stan Lee Takes On The D.C. Universe

    April 13, 2000

After weeks of fan speculation on the duration and format of Stan Lee's Elseworlds version of the DC Universe, DC finally broke its silence, giving USA Today the exclusive lowdown in today's issue. Hang on true believers; the Man is turning his creative eye to the whole of the DCU. According to the article, Michael Uslan, the executive producer of all four Batman movies got Lee and DC talking
'It's a very inhibiting and very scary project because these characters have been loved for so many years, and I'm going to dare show them in a different light,' Lee said in the article, quoted while he was visiting DC's offices on Broadway. 'I'll probably make a million enemies among die-hard fans, but I'm a great admirer of these characters and the genius behind their creation. I'm just doing a different take. Of course, if they like mine better, it won't break my heart.'
The format of the historic event is set to run for 12 issues and allows Lee to completely re-invent the iconic heroes while artists such as Jim Lee, Dave Gibbons, Joe Kubert and Bruce Timm. Adam Hughes will provide covers for the twelve issues.
The series first issue will kick off with the phrase, 'Just Imagine Stan Lee With John Buscema Creating Superman,' and will feature a Lee/Buscema take on the Man of Steel. Further issues in the series will feature Batman, Green Lantern (illustrated by Dave Gibbons), Wonder Woman (illustrated by Jim Lee), the Flash, the JLA, and the Sandman. All the issues will be tied together by an overarching storyline that will climax in the 12th issue of the limited series.
The article goes on to state that Lee is just beginning to sketch out ideas, and that the project will be a complete rethinking of the entire DC Comics mythology, presented in a format that will allow the artists to go as far as their imaginations and current technology will allow. At the same time, it is hoped that the 77-year-old Lee will bring the same wry humor, depth of humanity and dramatic flair that changed the face of comics in the '60s and has been influencing writers ever since.
'There is not another single person that we would let do this with our characters,' DC president and editor in chief Jenette Kahn is quoted as saying.
'We couldn't have done this with any other creator,' added Mike Carlin, who will edit the series. Paul Levitz, DC's executive vice president and publisher, says the company has worked hard to keep a lid on the project while securing the artists, many of whom frantically juggled their schedules for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The article reports that securing Lee for a project had been a dream at DC for years, a dream which was made possible by Marvel voiding Lee's exclusive lifetime contract as a result of cost-cutting measures when they emerged from bankruptcy in 1998. Lee's new non-exclusive contract states that Lee must spend 10% of his time working for Marvel, time which Lee spends writing the daily Amazing Spider-Man comic strip.
Usland, who will serve as a creative consultant on the 12-issue project, has been talking to Lee about working together since the two attended the 1989 premier of Batman with Batman creator Bob Kane. 'I figured that if Jimmy Carter could bring together Sadat and Begin, and if Frank Sinatra could bring back together Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the least I could do is try to bring together Stan Lee and DC Comics,' Usland said.
'Not that we were enemies,' Lee said, laughing - he and Kane used to kid each other about their famous creations. 'He'd always say that he could do Spider-Man better than me, and I'd say that Batman would've amounted to something if I had done him.'
Lee said that while re-creating these characters with their decades-long histories might seem daunting, the real challenge is going to be coming up with villains powerful enough and crises dire enough to propel the new stories. At Marvel, Lee continuously upped the ante from a megalomaniac who wanted to rule the world (Dr. Doom) to an alien who devoured worlds (Galactus) to a world that wanted to control all of existence (Ego). Creating a new challenge to battle an entire universe of iconic heroes won't be easy.
'You've got to have a menace that is colorful and exciting and bigger and stronger than the hero,' Lee said. 'It must never be a fair fight. The hero can't have a chance, and you have to worry about how can they possibly overcome.'
Despite the fact that reports of some kind of Lee/DC team-up have been circulating on the Internet for two weeks, Levitz said that no one nailed it down, because 'nobody dreams this big. Nobody thinks Stan would be up for a challenge this big.'
Lee concluded the article with a characteristically rascally, 'Nobody thinks you are reckless enough to do this, you mean.'
The project will be published as 12, prestige format issues which will later be collected into a trade paperback.

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