From its very beginning, the question surrounding DC Comics’ weekly series “The New 52: Futures End” was how much the “five years later” event would impact the main DC line. Now with the end of the book dovetailing into a multiversal publishing event “Convergence,” that question remains more important than ever to the heroes of the DCU.
Co-writers Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens (along with Brian Azzarello and Jeff Lemire) have had a strong hand in some of the most mysterious plotlines of the series to date. Giffen has written about the omnipotent brat Fifty Sue while Jurgens has juggled everything from the emergence of a Brother Eye-powered “Joker Borg” to the reinvention of Firestorm. Meanwhile, the series is bringing those plotlines together with the strange poison affecting Frankenstein and John Constantine’s occult investigation of Superman’s hometown starting with this week’s issue #38.
As the book enters its final months (the finale issue #48 ships in March), CBR News spoke with Giffen and Jurgens about what’s in store for the end of “Futures End.” Below, the pair expound on how character resolutions are all over the final issues, tease why the invading Brainiac will be the biggest version of the alien ever and discuss how the likes of Booster Gold, Brother Eye, Batman and more will shake out as “Convergence” nears.
CBR News: Gents, the shape of a year-long series like “Futures End” have many different driving factors. So far in the book, we’ve seen things driven by the fate of the Earth 2 heroes or the mystery surrounding the new Superman. What would you say is driving things as you enter this final phase?
Dan Jurgens: Character resolution.
Keith Giffen: Sadly.
Well, how often do you feel you resolve things in the course of a series like this, or does it all wait until the end?
Jurgens: I don’t know whether we ever had the question of resolving characters in terms of arcs, but we always talked about them in terms of trajectory. At points where any major episode would happen, how would that character change and transform? We started to slot those ideas in, all the while advancing the overall plot. I think the way a series like this has to work is that we have to resolve some of the individual character stories because we’re going to have to shift to tying up the overall plot.
Giffen: There’s no cut and dried rule for how long stories are supposed to go. It’s not like we said, “Well, the Fifty Sue story has got to run 36 issues so we can fill that space.” The story would run until it came to a head naturally. We had some stories that came to a head in the early 30s while others end past issue #40. We had the stories we told, and the way they fed into others happened organically. There was no rule about keeping all the characters moving at once.
Well, one thing that seems to be on the cusp of wrapping with this week’s issue #38 is the story of all the Batmen coming together — Bruce, Terry and Tim Drake all facing down against this Bruce/Joker/Brother Eye hybrid. What does this issue represent for those characters, and how does it set them up for the book’s impending finale?
Giffen: Well for me, it meant I got an issue off. [Laughter] Dan and Brian [Azzarello] have pretty much been keeping that whole “Batman Versus Joker Borg” element of the story going. Whenever Batman shows up, I get to sit back and enjoy it as a fan.
Jurgens: We’d had Terry and Tim meet previously, but this is the first time they’ve all gotten together along with what we lovingly refer to as the Joker Borg. You get the current Batman and the future world Batman coming together. And in a way the nasty little secret behind all of this is that since a lot of this has to do with Brother Eye, Batman and Mister Terrific — who put Brother Eye in the sky in the first place — are now in a place where they can sit around getting fingers pointed. We get into some of the animosity between Tim Drake and the current Batman. We see what went down there in terms of the Earth War and why Tim went into hiding. There’s definitely a lot of character work there that gets wrapped up.
As you read a book like this, you start to notice certain themes or ideas running through. One thing that’s often cropped up on either side of this series has been the scientific world’s response to change like with Brother Eye or with Firestorm, and then there’s the magic world’s response with Amethyst and Frankenstein or Constantine and Superman. How do those two sides work for you?
Giffen: I don’t know if there was ever any conscious discussion on our part about “science versus magic.” I think the stories just kind of organically grew that way.
Jurgens: Actually Keith, if you go back to the very beginning of this — like the first conversation we ever had -Â we did write down a list of science characters and magic characters. We had some things like that, but then Jeff [Lemire] being Jeff just went, “I’ll take Frankenstein!” [Laughs] But one thing we talked about then was getting characters into different realms.
Giffen: I remember the board and the characters, but when we divvied them up, we didn’t go, “You’ve got your magic characters. You’ve got your science characters. They’ve got to come into conflict later on.” It was just all these neat characters, and we each grabbed as many as we could.
Jurgens: And I think we wanted to represent as many aspects of the DC Universe as possible within that.
One other major theme has been this distrust of superheroes that exists in the world. Mister Terrific is a major voice against the heroes, and other people like Tim Drake reflect that as well. I wonder how much that theme is going to change or get a final point put on it when Brainiac arrives on earth.
Jurgens: That’s something we talked a lot about in the beginning too: what is the nature of a hero, and why do they do what they do? And what happens if we get to the point — just like we see in real life — where they say “I’m done with this”? We’ve seen Superman do that. We’ve seen Tim Drake do that after having been through a war. He says, “I’m done with this. Let everybody else solve the world’s problems. The biggest problem I want to solve is if a guy comes in and wants a beer. I give him one, and he’s happy, and I’m happy.”
So we talked all about those ideas, and we did it more so in terms of how it affects them as characters than what the overall effect on the world is. Some of that comes from the idea that the one thing we know about the world today is that no one can agree. You’ve got Fox News on one side and MSNBC on the other, and then you’ve got everything in between. If one of them comes out and says “The sky is blue,” you know someone else is out five minutes later saying, “The sky is red.” What we wanted to do was present this as a diversity of opinions. It’s not so much that the world got sick of superheroes. It’s that there are some people looking at the Earth 2 characters and saying, “You guys brought war to our doorstep.” But at the same time, we’ve also broached the idea that the world understands that Superman’s saved its ass. Just like in real life, there are a huge number of opinions about this out there.
Giffen: I remember early on I told the crew, “Look, I’m going to be the voice of ‘Superpowers are bad.’ I’ll be saying that this is not a good thing. And if you want a counter argument, you better try and make it. Because I’ll be coming at this in every issue.” We talked about the role of superheroics in the world, and each one of us came at it from a different direction. And I kind of like that mesh.
So Brainiac is definitely the force that ushers the book into its home stretch. Why was he the force that could tie everything back together?
Jurgens: Because he could be what we needed him to be. What we really talked about in the beginning with Brainiac is that there have been so many different presentations of the character throughout DC history — how could you possibly make him work? What we keyed in on was the idea that they’ve all been there. And if they’ve all been there, is there a shared consciousness, or is there a Supreme Brainiac beyond that?
And generally, when you’re looking for a concept that’s that elastic within the DC Universe, Brainiac just fit the bill.
DC has made a big point of the fact that this weekly series and things like “Earth 2: World’s End” and other major plot points will all be colliding ahead of the two-month “Convergence” takeover of the line. We know this has a lot to do with the multiple realities of DC’s New 52 and the versions of the DCU that existed before the linewide relaunch. The one element both of you are familiar with that seems to have some connection here is Booster Gold who is appearing in “Justice League 3000” from Keith and was in a “Futures End” one-shot about the multiverse from Dan that got people talking. How does he factor in to what comes next?
Giffen: The Booster Gold I’m doing in “Justice League 3000” is not that Booster Gold. The Booster I’m writing, I look at as a direct sequel to “I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League” or “Formerly The Justice League.” What that basically means is that Geoff Johns called me and said, “Hey, let’s do a Justice League crossover where the teams have to not only go through time but also through space.” The Booster that we’ve seen in the DCU that you’re familiar with — the guy that’s come to understand the timestream and has been playing time cop — was developed as a person on his own. That’s the Booster that Dan is doing, but I’m not doing that guy.
Jurgens: And obviously, Booster has a two-issue set in “Convergence” where we’ll pick up and deal with some of the stuff that you saw in the “Five Years Later” one-shot. We’ll definitely address that.
So at this point in “Futures End” where the ending is at least mostly complete if not 100% complete, I wonder what you feel is the scene throughout that you’re happiest with that you wrote yourself, and then what is the moment to come you’re most excited for?
Giffen: Actually, the scene I’m most proud of just happened in issue #36. It’s where Lana is dealing with Fifty Sue, and she’s pretty much had enough. She puts that girl in her place. That’s probably my favorite thing that I’ve written in the entire series. As for the other side of it, I tend to have written up to a point by now, and if I didn’t get it into the series yet, it’s probably a moot point for me.
Jurgens: Of everything that’s been written, I’m very partial to when the Joker Borg first emerged. I think it was Brian’s idea to merge future Joker and future Batman in to one person, but I just found that to be such a wonderful idea, and it manifested itself on the page. In terms of what’s coming up, it’s hard to get into. I think there are some major developments that haven’t been drawn yet, and I can’t wait to see them. When you get to the end of the story, that’s the payoff that’ll make the previous 36 or 38 issues worthwhile.
From the very beginning, the big question around this series has been the Brother Eye controlled future and how much of an impact that idea would have on the DCU. What can you say about where that storyline leaves things when this series runs into “Convergence”?
Giffen: That’s smooth. That’s a really good question. But we’re not going to tell you the ending. [Laughter] Props for the question, though. You almost had me going!
“The New 52: Futures End” #38″ arrives this week from DC Comics.
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