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Jeff Katz’s True Colors: “Blue & Gold”

by  in Comic News Comment
Jeff Katz’s True Colors: “Blue & Gold”
“Booster Gold” #0 on sale now

This week’s “Booster Gold” #0  marks the start of co-writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz and artist/creator Dan Jurgens’ second major arc of the popular DC Comics title. As promised, issue #0 is a long overdue “Zero Hour” tie-in. The classic Dan Jurgens time-travel epic was originally published in 1994. It’s about time, right?

The new arc, “Blue & Gold,” also heralds the return to the comics page of fan favorite hero Ted Kord, the former Blue Beetle who was murdered in 2005’s “Countdown to Infinite Crisis.” But for how long?

CBR News had a chance to talk to co-writer Jeff Katz about the storyline, collaborating with Geoff Johns, and his role as resident fanboy executive at 20th Century Fox.

 

First off, what can fans of “Booster Gold” expect from the “Blue & Gold” storyline?

It’s going to be a lot of fun. Expect the unexpected. Speaking personally, I grew up on the [Justice League International.] So for me, to get to play with Booster and Beetle together is a bit surreal. I think that [fans] can expect a very big adventure that is going to bring up some pretty wild guest stars that people are not expecting and have not seen in a long time. We have some people and animals showing up in this thing that fans will be very surprised to see again and hopefully subvert their expectations of what they are getting. At the end of the day, it is a real love letter to [Booster and Beetle’s] relationship and what Geoff and I as fans and other fans fell in love with in the first place.

“Booster Gold” #7

Without giving away any spoilers, is there anything specific fans should look out for?

All I can say is the membership of the all new, all different Freedom Fighters is going to get people talking. There is one character Geoff and I were both very excited to be able to bring back. I think it’s his first reappearance since one brief thing in “Infinite Crisis” and before that he hadn’t been seen for a while. But when Geoff and I first sat down there was one obscure character that we were like, “We are finding away of fitting him into this book.” We do that in this arc. And I will say, without giving it away that the leaders of The Freedom Fighters will be a lot of fun for fans too.

Tell us about issue #0. It’s a “Zero Hour” tie-in? Fourteen years late?

Well, we figured, better late then never. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the “Millennium 2001” & “Bloodlines” crossovers done in time but this worked out okay. The beauty of a time travel book is that you can touch on all sorts of key moments in the history of DC. In this case, our heroes find themselves running head-on, right into Parallax just before his “Zero Hour” plan really goes into effect. Parallax is both surprised and not happy to see them. On some level, it was fun for us to give Jurgens a chance to go back and play with “Zero Hour” again. I can promise you that you will see (very briefly) the return of  “Mullet” Superman, which I’m personally very excited about.

What’s it like working with Dan Jurgens on a character that he created over 20 years ago?

It’s awesome! I’m 29, so I really grew up on a lot of Dan’s work. It’s both a real honor and a tremendous responsibility. Geoff and I both feel that. At the end of the day, no matter what we do, it’s still Dan’s character. Hopefully we’re serving something that’s true to the nature of what he created. Dan’s been awesome. Dan’s style on a large level fit’s a book like this because it is timeless. It works for the character. It’s for me a real pleasure and a surreal experience.

There are some loose ends after your first arc, “52 Pick-Up.” For example, will we find out what Ultra-Humanite, Despero and Per Degaton were up to in issue #5?

Without giving anything away, I think it’s very safe to say that those three will be rearing their heads again and possibly with some unexpected company.

On the last page of issue #1, there were four panels that showed future moments. One of which we saw in issue #6. Will we see the other three come to be in this arc?

As far as Geoff and I are concerned, we wouldn’t put them in if we weren’t doing them. I won’t say in what form and when they are coming but one or two in particular you are going to see sooner rather then later.

Issue #6 saw the return of Ted Kord. Is he back to stay?

“Booster Gold” #8

For us, it’s about serving the fans and serving the great character that he is; keeping him alive without undoing the impact of what he did in “Countdown to Infinite Crisis.” Which is why you have the future Blue Beetle at the end of the last issue noting that Booster and Ted are both going to need to play the role of unknown champion of time. Because to just take him on a big reunion tour of the DC universe with everybody and say, “Hey, I’m alive again, I’m alive again” kind of undoes the emotional impact of what Ted did. So we’re very aware of that but at the same time we’re hoping to have our cake and eat it too and give people the Ted Kord they’ve wanted and missed, while at the same time not undoing the impact of the great story they told in “Countdown to Infinite Crisis.” Like Barry Allen’s death, you want to be very respectful because it was such a central moment in the modern DCU. Both Geoff and I have a lot of love for [Ted Kord]. He means a lot to me personally so I’m hopeful that we’ll do it in a way that the fans will respect it and enjoy.

Will we learn more about the future Blue Beetle?

Absolutely. I hope that with the future Blue Beetle that it’s a character that can still turn up at points and have a bit of a future in the DCU, (no pun intended). And it’s not an accident that he looks close to the “Kingdom Come” Blue Beetle. That was intentional. 

Will Booster play a role in DC’s “Final Crisis”?

Booster’s arc dovetails very nicely into “Final Crisis,” and I know that Grant [Morrison] certainly has affection for the character. I can’t say specifically what they’re doing with him in terms of that book. Part of why we did this thing with the character was to allow him and have it make sense for him to be around on the fringes of every major event that DC does both from the past and going forward. DC doesn’t put the word “crisis” on something unless it’s pretty universe encompassing. I would suspect that Booster at some point, even if it’s very slightly could have some sort of role in that even possibly going forward in his own book. I don’t want to comment to deeply on it just because I’m not as informed as Geoff would be on that.

Johns recently announced that he’s leaving the book sometime in ’08 due to his schedule. Will you be leaving with him or continue on?

I’m not entirely sure yet. I would like to continue doing comics for the foreseeable future as much as I’m available to do so. I’m in a situation where I do have a day job. That’s the challenge and it’s something we’ve got to figure out. At this point in time I feel like I have a little something to prove, to show that I can actually do this by myself. And I think that’s a natural thing. We’ll know something shortly in terms of what the plan is. I’m going from “Wolverine” right into, ideally, “The A-Team” shooting, so my schedule’s going to get a little insane as well. So I don’t entirely know. Right now, we’re all just trying to enjoy it for whatever it’s worth because it’s been such a fun experience.

20th Century Fox has been incredibly gracious and supportive of me playing in this business. It’s not something that I ever want to stop doing. It’s just going to be a question of, if I have movies in production and I have responsibilities there, how much time will I have for comics? And I actually have a couple of creator owned things I’m interested in doing that I’m in the process of putting together right now as well. There are a couple characters at Marvel also that I think at a point in time I’m interested in talking about. One in particular is sort of in the same vein as Booster, which is very interesting to me. It’s been sort of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the opportunities of gotten and I’m incredibly grateful for it. I just want to keep it going as long as I can.

You mentioned that you’re working on “Wolverine” and “The A-Team.” Can you tell us anything about those films?

We’re getting some great stuff [for “Wolverine”]. I’m not allowed to talk very much about it but I can say that I think it’s got a lot for the fans that they’re going to really enjoy. If I had to describe the movie on any level, I would say, well, the line we’ve been using on set is “It’s Clint Eastwood with Claws.” And Hugh [Jackman] is doing some pretty amazing stuff in that regard. From that we’ll be doing “The A-Team” with [director] John Singleton, which is very exciting. Then I’m hopeful Magneto and a couple other surprise comic projects might pop up here shortly. It’s safe to say I’m living the geeky dream and I’m not complaining.

“Booster Gold” volume 1 on sale in May

Are you pleased with the “Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash” comic book and how close is it to your original pitch to New Line?

I’ve been stunned. I always thought the book could do well — I always thought the movie would do well, for that matter. I think it’s a tribute to those characters, their fan bases and the fact that ultimately they really do mesh together well. The book is relatively close to the treatment I pitched. I’m hopeful they’ll try to publish the actual original treatment in the trade paperback but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not. On the whole they’ve done a pretty good job and everyone’s been incredibly respectful of what we did. To me, one of the real professional heartbreaks of my life was not being able to get that movie made when I was at New Line. So to see it realized in the medium that is my other true love and see it do well has been a… “nightmare” come true, if you will. The movie idea was homage to the classic “vs. comics,” the idea of being able to put these characters against each other. So it’s kind of ironic that while it couldn’t work as a film it’s allowed to flourish as a comic book. So I’ve been really trilled with it.

Finally, are there any comics that you are reading right now that you are really excited about?

I’m a big fan of what Ed [Brubaker] and Matt [Fraction] are doing on “Immortal Iron Fist.” I think that in a lot of ways, it feels spiritually related to “Booster Gold” on some level. I just finally the other day got to finish my last issue of “Y: The Last Man,” and it’s not at all what I was expecting but really kind of blew me away. I’ve enjoyed “Scalped” a lot, I think it’s a really underrated book.  On the Marvel front, I’m very much getting wrapped up in all the Skrull stuff that’s going on. There is really a wealth of good material out there in a variety of genres now and that’s kind of the beauty of the comic book medium.  It’s something that frankly Hollywood is only now really fully waking up to.

I’m very interested personally in going off and doing something not in the superhero genre, something outside the box in that regard. My favorite book of the last decade was “WE3,” which I bought the rights for when I was at New Line and if I could I would’ve brought to Fox with me. I just think that when you can do something like that in this medium and it can make you tear up at the end, that’s pretty remarkable. I’ve heard Ed Brubaker say this and I think he’s right, once a month if the comic fan dropped one title they’ve been reading for just that month and picked up something that they totally didn’t know like “Sleeper” or “Criminal,” I think that they’d really be turned on to the fact that there is a whole world beyond capes and masks out there. It’s amazing what can be done now in this medium.

Now discuss this story in CBR’s DC Comics forum.

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