For the past two years, DC Comics has turned September into an event; 2012 gave readers the Zero Month origin issues of the New 52 heroes, while 2013 provided the DCU’s antagonist’s point of view for Villains Month.
This year, DC is at it again as the New 52 leaps ahead five years, offering readers glimpses of the future lives of various heroes and anti-heroes in one-shots by new and returning writers and artsits. One such creator is Dan Jurgens, who just so happens to also be one of the architects of the weekly “Futures End” series the month-long event is tied into.
Dealing with the characters from his ongoing series, Jurgens takes on “Aquaman And The Others: Futures End” with artist Sean Chen, which finds Kahmina and Sayeh’s visions coming true. Working with artist Lee L. Weeks, Jurgens takes an in-depth look at the masked Man of Steel in “Superman: Futures End.” The writer heads back underwater in “Aquaman: Futures End” with artist Alvaro Martinez, and teams up with artists Moritat, Brett Booth, Steve Lightle, Stephen Thompson, Mark Irwin and Ron Frenz, Jurgens revisits a character not seen since 2012 — time traveler, opportunistic hero and Jurgens creation Booster Gold.
Taking a break from his immense workload, Jurgens spoke with CBR News on how the weekly series ties into the individual one-shots, Booster Gold’s mysterious disappearance and the effect all of this will have on the present.
CBR News: Alright Dan, let’s talk about the, I’m going to say, roughly a million and one “Futures End” books you’re writing.
Dan Jurgens: [Laughs] It feels a little like that, yeah!
You’re also one of the writers working on the “Futures End” weekly series. How do these one-shots differ from what you’re doing in the weekly?
I think it depends on the particular book in question. In some cases if you read “Futures End,” for example, you will have seen, say, a different looking Superman. We get into some aspects of the where’s and whys in the “Superman” five years later issue. So that one has a direct connection to what we’re doing in the weekly book. If you look at the “Booster Gold” five year later book, that also has a connection to the weekly, in that, if you go all the way back a couple of months and look at some of the promotional artwork that was done, there was a sort of M.C. Escher-style poster that had Booster Gold in it. What we’re doing there is, people have been going, “Well, wait a minute, we saw Booster Gold on the poster — where is he? Why haven’t we seen him in ‘Futures End’?” We’ll start to delve into some of that in the Booster Gold five years later issue, to really start to flesh that out. “Aquaman” is much more his own story, and that’s something we pick up on in the “Aquaman And The Others” five years later story as well. That’s dealing much more with that particular world of what happened in Atlantis, how the war on Earth that we’ve alluded to in “Futures End” may have affected it and that kind of thing.
Looking at the books as a whole, even though they are picking up different threads, do they all take place at the same time, at the very end of the weekly series? Or are you going back in time with some of these to show us what led to the five years in the future versions of these heroes?
What I’m doing is kind of showing it in that more immediate sense. For example, with the Superman five years later book, you will read that week’s issue of the weekly, and that Superman story will continue right into “Superman” five years later. There will be a very direct connection and it will be very immediate. It will tell a bit of a story, as well, of what happened in the past, but for the most part it is here and now.
If you look at the two “Aquaman” books, while they are also set in the present, they tell a story that, again, is a little more wide-scope in nature, of what happened in Atlantis over these five years, how has life changed? What has changed for Aquaman, what has changed for Mera?
“Booster Gold” is a little bit more of a special issue dealing with the idea of what’s been going on for him the past couple of years, and then, where does that take us in the future?
In the “Futures End” weekly, we’ve got Terry McGinnis time traveling; as Booster Gold is also a time traveler, how much of what happens in “Futures End” going to impact your “Booster Gold: Futures End” one-shot?
Quite a lot, actually, and I think you have to step back a little farther than that in terms of the question. The last time we’ve seen Booster Gold [in the present] was in the “Justice League International” annual of 2012. Since then, [other than his appearance in “All Star Western”] we haven’t seen Booster until we saw him at that point. We’re going to finally start to find out, was he taken? Did he just slip out of existence? Or did he go someplace else? This starts to deal with all that. It goes back to that point. We pick up on that, and we start to answer some of those questions, as well as how it relates to “Futures End.” And then, as I said earlier, where does it go from there? It’s definitely plugging in, in that very wide-scope kind of way.
DC has put out some images showing what their 3D motion covers will look like, and for “Booster Gold,” you’ve got him standing in front of a skyline and then one where it looks like he’s being pursued by the Jack Kirby “Kamandi” tiger people. Are you touching on that or using any part of that Kirby reality in your Booster Gold story?
What an interesting questions! [Laughs] When I’ve been asked about the cover, I generally say, “Infer what you will.” There are things you can definitely draw from that in terms of what is going to be inside the cover of that issue, absolutely.
The other thing that struck me looking at the solicit is that there are a lot of artists listed: Moritat, Steve Lightle, Brett Booth, etc. With all the other titles, it looks like you’re only working with one artist, but for this one do you have a rotating crew coming in to illustrate different parts of the story.
Yeah, very much so, and it was something we did very consciously. As we put the story together, there were sections where we wanted to have a very special and particular feel in terms of the art. We wanted guys who could capture it in just the way it was meant to be captured, the way it was envisioned, so we went out and were fortunate enough to get those guys, and I’m drawing five pages as well. We are really trying to sculpt a very particular story that leaves readers with a very particular sense of time, place, location — everything.
Moving on to “Superman: Futures End,” as you’ve said, we’ve seen some of the masked hero already. Is this an exploration of his back-story and who he is as a character?
Yeah, it really is. In terms of the weekly book itself, “Futures End,” you will start to see more and more of Superman as the story proceeds. The beauty of a weekly is, we sort of have storylines that bubble up and subside. We’ve seen, in the first eight issues, only a few panels of Superman, and this guy is like — what happened to his costume? Why does he look the way he does? That is a storyline that starts to pick up speed and move up to frontline status for a few issues, and that will build. As I said, some of that story will go directly from “Futures End” into “Superman” five years later, and answer those very questions.
What’s the challenge of working on the weekly series versus working on these one-shots? They seem to tell more complete stories, but still tie into the weekly.
I think, certainly, what we have with “Futures End” is a big cast. We have four writers, we have a very big cast, and we are all trying to tell different aspects of the story in terms of what has happened to Earth. How is it different five years from now, and how has it affected these characters? What we’re really trying to do here is tell something that is a big story, and we’re trying to tell it through the eyes of these characters. It seems slower at times and its just kind of percolating along, then it’ll pick up speed in parts and subside, different characters will move to the forefront and that kind of thing. A lot of that is based on the idea that we have four writers.
If we go look at the individual five year later issues, that’s me controlling twenty pages of that character’s life. I think what it becomes is a much more self-contained story. When Brian [Azzarello] and Jeff [Lemire] and Keith [Giffen] and I sat down, and we all started to plan the story, we realized that anytime you’re dealing with something five years later — I mean gosh, you have all these lives in the DCU, and what happens? What changes there? We couldn’t keep it all contained in the “Futures End” weekly, so this gives us a chance, as writers, to explore some of these side-stories and get into real detail of what happening with these characters.
As I said, the “Superman” one-shot takes off from — there is a particular moment in “Futures End” that will take off from and move from there, and it will start to fill in the story of where Superman has been, what he has been doing, how his life has changed over that five year period. “Booster Gold,” as I said, moves beyond that, because it deals not just with what Booster is doing five years from now, but what has happened since the end of “Justice League International Annual” #1 in, I think that was 2012?
Exactly what was the mechanism that made him disappear, and where did he go and all that. That becomes that bigger kind of story, because that deals with what happened then, where are we five years from now and where do we go from there? Where do we take Booster from that point moving forward?
And then to round out your one-shots you are also writing “Aquaman And The Others” and “Aquaman.” It looks like those books are telling two-sides of the same story — are those ones fans should really read together to get a complete view of what’s going on five years later?
Yeah, it’s not necessarily all one story, but it is certainly the same cast of characters. Some of that is because it seemed natural for Aquaman to move to the point where, obviously with the Others, if they’re still going to be a team, those characters are still going to be around. So a couple of those characters certainly show up in the “Aquaman” issue itself, and it starts to tell a story of Atlantis and how things have changed there, how that kind of change makes other lives different. Then that bleeds into the events of “Aquaman And The Others” five years later as well. They are definitely connected.
The very first issue of “Aquaman And The Others” gave readers a glimpse of the five years later “Futures End” timeline. When you started on that book, did you know you would be wrapping up that story in September?
Pretty much, yeah. The idea is, if we go back to “Aquaman And The Others” #1, we saw they used to have a member in the Others by the name of Kahina, and we saw her sister Sayeh who got glimpses of the future thirty-five years later. In addition to that, we’ve also seen her get glimpses of the more immediate future as well as the future of the five years later future. All of this is going to be intertwined because we definitely want to convey the idea that if you’re a character who can see the future, I want to show you a future that is really there, not just, “Oh, gee — I had this vision of a spaceship slamming into this house, and if we change the timeline, it won’t happen.” I think we want to be a little more concrete than that.
You want to see that spaceship crash, at least sometime in the near future.
Yeah! I mean, anytime you start to deal with time travel stories and time differential stories and that kind of thing — I’ve always thought this — there comes a time when there’s a “play fair” point, where there are some things you have to show readers that are real and are tangible and will still happen. That’s been very important to us, since day one.
Looking at the “Futures End” books and event, the scope just seems really ambitious. You’ve got the weekly and then the one-shots, and it’s all setting up to move us into the “World’s End” weekly that will go into next year. What is it like to work on something that is taking up about two years of real time to tell this big future story?
Uh, it’s time consuming! [Laughter] It’s funny, when we first started talking about this kind of a project there came a moment where all the writers were sitting there and we were trying to piece together what could this story be, what characters can we use, how can we make this work? And then [DC Comics co-publisher] Dan DiDio looked at us and said, “Hey, what about in September all of our books told the story of what happens five years from now?” [Laughs] Then we started to realize, as everything come together, the weeklies and what we’re doing in “World’s End,” as you said, starts to paint this picture of the DC Universe both how it is today and how it is tomorrow and how those two visions affect each other and where we go from there. I do think there is a really big story to tell there, and for fans who get onboard, I think they get to see different aspects of characters they haven’t seen before as well as this wide-scope adventure that is going to a very particular destination.
Even though you’re entrenched in it now, do you have a favorite character or one-shot you are really excited you get to share with readers?
Oh, I do, and I think it’s going to be hard for me to say at this point because there are a couple of characters who have a couple of secrets that have yet to be revealed. For the individual issues, the five year later issues, putting together the “Booster Gold” issue, because it is so different and it has this very particular vision of what it is trying to communicate to the reader with different artists and with this different attitude and everything, it’s been challenging and a lot of fun at the same time.
This is looking much further ahead, given that the solicits for September recently came out, but after the weekly and one-shots are out, where do you go from there in your main series? Will what you’re doing in the one-shots affect what will happen in the “Aquaman And The Others” book for the rest of 2014?
The one thing I’m going to do first is catch my breath! [Laughs] I’ve been on this really incredible treadmill, but I think part of what you do with the five year later books is say, “This is out there, beyond the horizon.” And you then say, “If this is out there beyond the horizon, how long does it take you to get there? By what path do you get there?” So as things unfold, I think part of what you do is tantalize them with that little bit of candy and say, “This is down the road, and this is something to consider,” and they start to say, “Now that I’m reading these adventures in the present, when do I get to see some of that future and when do I see it unfold?” All that kinds of blends together, and that is why I think something like this is an awful lot of fun for the fans. They may see things that they look at and say, “Wow, I can’t wait for that to get here,” or they may look at something and say, “Man, I hate that character,” and, “Please tell me how you’re going to avoid that from happening!” and we should see that and everything in between.
Is there a chance readers will see more Booster Gold coming up, either in “Aquaman And The Others” or perhaps in a solo book once again?
Yeah, I think there’s a good chance. [Laughs]
After you go back in time and take a break, of course.
[Laughs] It really is something I could use, or take a couple of days off, because right now it really has been like riding the deadline tiger to keep on top! But it’s fun! I think, and I’ve pulled this out on previous projects like “Superman” or so many other things, when you get involved with something that is this big and has this kind of gravity behind it, and you’re working with guys like Jeff Lemire and Brian Azzarello and Keith Giffen, we just have this thing going that’s continuing to build upon itself. When you get that momentum behind you from a creative standpoint, it’s really a lot of fun to tackle and try to make it work. You even get this friendly competition going, where Brian will turn in some pages and you’ll read and go, “Holy crap, that’s cool! I’ve got to make sure I sit down and sharpen my pencil,” or whatever it may be. It just keeps the whole thing moving.
Once this is done, “Futures End” dovetails into “World’s End,” you’re still on “Aquaman and The Others” and you’ve teased the possibility of a “Booster Gold” series. What should readers keep their eyes open for, either in these one-shots or any future things you’re doing?
I always say, especially from a reader’s standpoint, take it one day at a time. For the immediate sense, it really is the “Futures End” weekly and what we’re building there and the kind of story we’re trying to introduce and tell as we really sculpt the characters that inhabit the DC Universe five years from now, what you’ll see in the books that come in September. So my basic response is, let’s just get to that point and then we can talk about a little more of what’s coming afterwards.
“Futures End” #8 is out July 2; “Aquaman And The Others: Futures End” arrives in stores September 3; “Booster Gold: Futures End,” “Aquaman: Futures End” and “Superman: Futures End” hit shelves September 24.