Tim Drake is back as the lead of his own solo series -- but this time it's not Robin or Red Robin, but Batman Beyond, where he has taken the reins from Terry McGinnis, the Batman of thirty-five years in the future who sacrificed himself in The New 52: Futures End to stop the rise of Brother Eye.
It wasn't entirely successful, though, and the world Tim returns to thirty years after the events of that series is more than a little changed.
Jurgens joined ComicBook.com for the first in an ongoing series of interviews discussing the future -- or futures? -- of the DC Universe with Batman Beyond.
Warning: This is a spoiler-heavy interview. If you haven't read Batman Beyond #1 yet, go buy a copy and read along with us. You can also test-drive the eight-page free preview featuring Tim Drake's first meeting with the family of Terry McGinnis below, following the interview.
The cover depicts both the classic Beyond universe and the world of Kamandi, although it isn't immediately clear that EITHER of those are actually in this particular book. Is time broken?
No, time isn't broken.
Many times, the cover of a first issue represents not only that issue, but the series as a whole.
Bernard Chang's gorgeous cover does exactly that. We have the world of the DCU's Great Disaster timeline on the left, the more classic Batman Beyond animated future on the right. We're merging those two timelines into one representative timeline for the DCU. You also see aspects of that in Batman Beyond, where the name "Powers" has emerged.
And we did see Batman fly past the partially flooded Statue of Liberty, straight out of Kamandi #1. We also saw Ben Boxer on the cover and have introduced a woman by the name of Nora Boxer inside.
We can't give everyone all the answers at once, but we can certainly build on them.
Following the events of Convergence, we didn't see the traditional Beyond characters depicted on that four-page splash. That said, we also appeared to see the 35 Years Later future of Futures End destroyed ,unless I'm misremembering. So does that "mean" something for the end of Convergence and/or the fates of the worlds destroyed there?
Some of what you saw in Futures End was negated by the end of that series itself. That happened when Tim Drake, wearing the Batman Beyond suit at the time, prevented the Earth 2 refugees from arriving. When that happened, that particular future was changed.
As a result, the future Batman finds himself in is somewhat different than the one Terry McGinnis actually left. We were quite clear about that in issue #1, as observed by Alfred. Unlike Tim, he's part of both futures and is still trying to ascertain the differences.
One more thing before getting too deep into the events of #1 -- how do you feel about the fans who are maybe disappointed that they didn't get to see Terry like they expected?
I certainly understand that. Totally get it.
But Batman Beyond is about a lot more than Terry McGinnis. It's about the world itself, the city that Gotham becomes, the other heroes, villains and the supporting cast. We're going to use all of that, as we saw here with the Jokerz, Max Gibson, Terry's younger brother Matt and Barbara Gordon.
We also feel that Tim Drake is a compelling character in his own right-- one who deserves to wear the costume. Tim is particularly valuable as we pull all of this together because his reference point is the DCU past that we're all familiar with, and we get to see this unknown future unfold through him.
I myself am a huge Tim Drake fan, but this feels like about the only way we'll get a monthly from him right now. Given the longevity of the last one, do you feel like you have two competing sets of fan expectations going in?
Very possibly, yes.
Editors Dan DiDio, David Pina and I talk about that all the time. We have to be equally true to Tim Drake and the world of Terry McGinnis.
Now, I'm not super familiar with the animated series. Is referring to the setting as "Neo-Gotham" new?
No. Technically, Gotham becomes Neo-Gotham by that point.
Is it just a coincidence that Earth 2: Society is using that name at the same time?
I haven't talked to those guys about it so I really don't know.
There's a fair bit of dismemberment here -- something that Futures End got a bit of flak for. Given the source material, will this settle into a more PG-rated book or will it remain edgier and more in line with the DC Universe?
I'd have to argue your point. We had one guy whose head and been taken, off panel, prior to the start of page 1. That's it.
Yes, we have a cyborgean Superman from Futures End, but that's all.
I like the fact that Tim is talking with ALFRED about how to use the powers. It feels a bit like Jaime Reyes in his early appearances. Is that something that will carry through or when the suit shorts out have we seen the last of it for a while?
Tim learning the nuances and powers of the suit will be in play for a bit here. However, he's incredibly smart so it won't take long.
That's one of the things people tend to forget about Tim Drake. He's amazingly intelligent-- smart enough as a kid to figure out that Bruce Wayne and Batman were one and the same.
It's also a sneaky way of showing the reader what the suit's capabilities are.
Certainly the "at least Bruce did SOMETHING right" speaks to the conflict between the two in Futures End. When and if Bruce shows up again in the book, will that be a focus?
Should Bruce show up again, any aspect of his relationship with Tim will be in play. It's a complicated one.
You'll see more on that play out between Tim and Barbara next issue.
ALFRED refers to his records as "sketchy and incomplete" in the new timeline. That's something that we saw from Skeets in Booster Gold Volume 1, as a result of chronal interference from the Great Disaster. Is that kind of a safe thing to assume is similar here?
This is related more to the idea that this is a somewhat different future than the one Alfred left.
The future we saw in Futures End #0 was reconstructed as a result of the Earth 2 refugees never arriving. Brother Eye is still a constant, but the future itself has changed.
That will be one of the fun, more mysterious things that plays out going forward.
The eight-page preview that ran in books last month is kind of key to understanding what Tim is doing with Terry's family. Did you worry about that at all, or did you figure you provided enough context clues in this issue for anybody who didn't get their hands on the preview?
Well, the 8-page short certainly stands on its own, as Tim and Matt McGinnis, Terry's younger brother, meet for the first time.
But Matt will become so important to the series that, yes, I absolutely wanted to touch on it again.
Do you think Tim runs the risk of alienating them by not telling him the truth about time travel? I mean, yes, it's understandable that he be cautious at first but once they become close enough for him to fess up, one would think that inherently they're close enough for the McGinnis family to be upset he lied to them while the relationship was building.
It all depends on how he handles it.
In truth, my own view is that any healthy relationship depends on a good deal of honesty. Eventually, that'll have to come into play here.
Certainly Matt seems like a built-in escape hatch in this story. If and when Tim has to leave, do you think ultimately he is a candidate to be the next Batman?
He's a bit young at this point, don't you think?
However, that'll be part of what plays into the future.
I like that Neo-Gotham is 52 miles from New York.
Always good to sneak that number in, wherever we can!
Is there some kind of relevance to the fact that New York is playing a key role here, and that was where the climactic battle in Futures End took place?
On the one hand, it's very representative of the Great Disaster timeline.
On the other, it makes for a very effective counterpoint to Neo-Gotham. Once, that was something of a cesspool city. Now it's one of mankind's last, best hopes.
These days, it seems we live in a fractured society and even more fractured world. 35 years or so from now, the differences between the haves and have-nots are even more disparate.
Will we see Tim's love interest from Futures End play into the story again? The older Barbara and Max Gibson reminded me that she's presumably still out there somewhere.
In the immediate sense, we're really focusing on Tim and his integration with this strange, new future and more traditional Batman Beyond cast.0comments
It's hard to get a handle on just what Tim's supporting cast might look like -- how much will be Tim's acquaintances versus Terry's. Have you got a plan for what the book will look like in a year?
We do! I think it'll become quite clear, fairly quickly, that his cast and environment will center among the more traditional elements of the Batman Beyond universe.