What follows is an email exchange between myself and Paul Levitz, President of DC Comics. If you want something, I always say aim for the top. And I had his email address. I hope he doesn’t mind.
Fri 1/7/2005 4:55 PM
Subject: Mattel, JLU, and Captain Atom
A story came out of the San Diego Comic Con that Mattel could not make Captain Atom as part of their Justice League Unlimited line even though he was featured prominently in the 1st episode "Initiation" along with Green Arrow and Supergirl. A Mattel rep has been posting on the ToyBuzz forum at Raving Toy Maniac (www.toymania.com) lately. When I asked him about this rumor he said: "We looked at Captain Atom, but there are licensing issues". Not satisfied, a few weeks later I asked for more details. His answer, "DCs call." So I go to the DC Direct – Action Figure forum and ask there. They suggested I ask you. This is a long winded way of asking, Can you ask you licensing people why Captain Atom was apparently left out of the JLU license given to Mattel?
Sat 1/08/05 7:05 PM
You’re welcome to ask, but it’s not the kind of thing we discuss in any detail with our fans. Every decision like this is a mix of the marketing/creative judgments of what fits with a license, and the business/legal history and status of the property–rights, participations, other plans to use the character can all interplay. We try to weigh all the factors and make the best decisions we can.
Sent: Wed Jul 20 06:58:41 2005
Subject: JLU, Mattel and the Charlton Heroes
Dear Mr. Levitz,
I’ve been looking at the pictures from SDCC, and what Mattel has put together for the JLU line is nothing short of awesome. They have gone beyond what I could have hoped. But there are two gaping holes in the lineup of figures. Considering how much of a role they have played it is strange that Captain Atom and the Question have not been made yet. The people at Mattel have stated on several message boards that these Charlton characters are not in the JLU contract. Apparently Shazam is not in their contract either. Please do what you can to make it possible for Mattel to make these characters for the fans.
Sent: Wed 7/20/05 3:30 PM
Thanks for your comments. These are fairly complex contracts And I’m not sure I can help you, but I’ll bear your interest in mind.
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld
Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: JLU, Mattel and the Charlton Heroes
As we get close to Toy Fair 2006, I am reminded that the Mattel Justice League Unlimted line is still missing Captain Atom, the Question, and Captain Marvel/Shazam. I talked to Bob Wayne about this at Wizard World Boston and he was surprised that Mattel could not make these former Charlton and Fawcett characters. Through www.actionfigureinsider.com, I contacted the Mattel Boys Toys manager who posts there under the name "Texas Ranger" and the JLU line manager who posts there under the name "Boy Wonder". "Texas Ranger" sent me a PM saying he had contacted his contacts in licensing and the situation was still that they are unable to make Captain Atom, the Question, and Captain Marvel/Shazam. Somehow Captain Atom was able to be included in the WizKids HeroClix miniatures line last year. This only adds to the mystery as to why he is missing from Mattel’s JL Unlimited action figure line. Please consider taking this issue up with the parties who can make this happen. If you – or they – would like proof as to the demand for these characters and interest in getting them made, please stop by www.actionfigureinsider.com and look at the topics in the Mattel forum. You might be surprised at the level of interest. Thank you for your time.
Sent: Thu 1/12/06 3:13 PM
Thanks for your support of those characters and your obvious fondness for the JLU line. There are different contractual and business concerns relative to each of those characters, and it’s certainly possible that at some point Mattel will want to do them and we will let them. Unfortunately, the relative demand for a single action figure isn’t a major economic factor (no one figure in a line like JLU other than the key characters of Superman and Batman is able to sell enough to generate enough royalties to resolve almost any imaginable business obstacle), but we do try to clear enough of the great characters to keep our collectors excited and interested in the line.
There was one more exchange. It happened at SDCC 2006 as I was walking the convention exhibit floor and went into the DC Comics area. There was Paul Levitz. I walked over, shook his hand and thanked him 25 years of enjoying DC Comics. Paul looked at my name tag. Then he said, "You’re the guy who keeps writing me about the Charlton characters and them not being in the Justice League toy line." Wow. I was impressed. I have made an impression. So I stopped the emails and I waited.
At NYCC, we got to see the new Captain Atom JLU figure. The other day, I saw a drawing of the Question in the artwork on the back of the Giganta packaging. It was clearly labeled as "The Question". And so I have one more email to write. I hope he doesn’t mind if I post it here.
“Dear Mr. Levitz,
Thank you and my thanks to everyone involved in getting Captain Atom and The Question made in the Justice League Unlimited toy line.”