SPOILER WARNING: The following interview discusses specific events and plot points from "Batman Beyond" #4.
Dan Jurgens is doing what many fans of the Emmy Award-winning "Batman Beyond" animated TV series would have deemed inconceivable. The superstar writer is telling game-changing stories set in the DC Universe's future without "Batman Beyond" lead Terry McGinnis in the Bat-Suit.
Following the events of "The New 52: Futures End" -- which featured the death of Bruce Wayne's time-traveling successor from 'beyond' -- Tim Drake has journeyed into the future and taken Batman's name. But by Tim's own admission, he's been coming up short. And he's not alone in that belief as both Commissioner Barbara Gordon and Micron -- Justice League Unlimited's Atom -- seem to agree.
CBR News connected with Jurgens, who chronicles Tim Drake's futuristic adventures along with artist Bernard Chang and colorist Marcelo Maiolo, to discuss the new series and the show-stopping final page from this week's "Batman Beyond" #4 -- a page that (spoilers ahead) single-handedly smashes the current "Superheavy" storyline happening in the pages of "Batman" into the DC Universe's future reality.
CBR News: Ka-Boom. Big reveal in "Batman Beyond" #4 that connects this futuristic continuity directly to the goings-on of current DCU. It appears that Tim will don Jim Gordon's Bat-Suit from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's current "Batman" storyline. Was this direct connection always in the plans for the launch of "Batman Beyond"?
In part, yes, though not quite the way you think. We've always been looking for ways to make it clear that our world of the future is connected to DC's present. As soon as the bat-crew introduced Geri Powers and Powers International as the developers of the current Bat-Suit, I knew we had to play off that. Long-time fans of "Batman Beyond" will, of course, remember that Derek Powers played a huge role in the show as one of Batman's villains after the Wayne/Powers merger. And to clarify, yes, we've been building to this since "Batman Beyond" #1.
Can you confirm that we will see Tim suit up in version 1.0 for "Batman Beyond" #5?
I rarely like to give away my future plans as it's always more fun to read about it in the story, but let's put it this way: Tim won't be wearing a clown suit into battle. [Laughs]
"Batman Beyond" #4 starts with Tim Drake opining: "I've taken Batman's name... and I have to prove I deserve it. So far, I've been coming up short." While Jean-Paul Valley and Dick Grayson have actually served the DCU as Batman in comic book continuity, this is a new reality -- albeit a futuristic one -- for Tim Drake. What characteristics and abilities does Tim possess that rival Bruce Wayne, and where does he still need some work?
Wow. Great question. I think Tim is fairly equivalent to Bruce in terms of his smarts. Remember, as a kid, Tim Drake ferreted out the fact that Bruce and Batman are one-in-the-same. Tim is a great tactician and he's able to look forward and plan.
Physically, he's not Bruce's equal. Few, if any, are. But he's close. What he, and everyone else, probably lacks is Bruce's drive. I don't think anyone in the DCU is driven the way Batman is and that's the big difference maker. On the other hand, Tim is more empathetic. He understands people better. That's a strength in and of itself. But I've always felt that Tim carries a dose of self-doubt. He doesn't lack confidence, but it has to be tough for him to live up to the standards set by Bruce -- not to mention Dick Grayson.
Similarly, in which ways does he "come up short" in comparison to Terry McGinnis? Both Barbara Gordon and Micron, in particular, have indicated that this is the case.
Tim doesn't come up short in comparison to Terry. Barbara and Micron speculate about that -- particularly Micron -- because they don't really know him. Terry McGinnis was a great and capable character, so is Tim.
Love Micron -- he jumps off the page in more ways than one. What makes him tick, and why he is a great character to play opposite Tim?
One of the things I like about Micron is that he's more enigmatic than the other future Justice League Beyond characters were. That gives me more to play with. In addition, a character that grows to a height of 30-feet or so always makes for great, visual fun. Bernard [Chang] has really taken that to heart and the panel of him jumping off the roof and enlarging on page 4 was simply incredible.
Glad you mentioned Bernard because he is absolutely killing it on art. What do you feel he brings to the project?
You're right. Bernard is absolutely strutting his stuff in a big way here, as is our collaborator and colorist Marcelo Maiolo. The reason I asked for Bernard as artist right from day one is that I love his sense of design. He's done a great job of making the world of the future feel like a real place, individual to our own book. Combine that with what Marcelo is doing through a unique color palette and you can see that we have a unique looking book. I'm really proud of the work these guys are doing.
In "Batman Beyond" #4, Tim says Gotham is dying and Barbara says despite Tim's perceived shortcomings, "Gotham needs Batman." In comics -- heck, fiction in general -- have a character and a place ever been so symbiotically linked as Batman and Gotham? And what is it that drives the relationship?
I'd be tempted to say Superman and Metropolis, but in reality, the link between Batman and Gotham is singularly unique. Krypton and Smallville gave birth to Superman, but the dark streets of Gotham created Batman. That's where the link starts. And it's been well established that Batman and his villains are all intertwined with each other -- and Gotham as well -- in a way no other title really has. Tim is born of that entanglement as well and it's quite appropriate that Barbara says what she does and sees Tim as a successor.
Obviously "Batman Beyond" is a fictional work, but how do real world news items like Hillary Clinton's email scandal and the fallout of the Ashley Madison hack effect a storyline that features a villain like Brother Eye, who is tapped into everything in the future DCU -- including Tim Drake via Alfred?
Those types of thing have become so commonplace that it almost makes it harder to use -- as in being too easy. But the very nature of Brother Eye demanded that he would eventually be able to access Batman's suit and Alfred -- the suit's A.I. -- made for the perfect entry point. It also makes Tim's struggle against him that much tougher.
Finally, because I have to ask, is Terry McGinnis truly dead or will readers see him one day in "Batman Beyond"?
As I've said many times before, we are fully invested in Tim Drake being Batman. Tim is a great character and really helps tie the DC present into the future. We're trying to build something really cohesive here.
Okay, one more: There is a promo in the issue for Batman Day on September 26th. How will you be celebrating?
With a signing. I'll be appearing at a great comic store in celebration of Batman Day -- soon to be announced!
"Batman Beyond" #4 by Dan Jurgens and featuring art by Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo is on sale now