Batman stories have been teasing for years that Tim Drake would someday become Batman, but Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang are making it very difficult for Tim to fulfill that role in Batman Beyond.
And what Jurgens calls a "nice little surprise" at the end of next week's Batman Beyond #3 will make it even harder.
It's just one of the many unexpected turns in Batman Beyond, the new series launched in June that takes place 35 years in the future of the DC Universe.
The Batman Beyond character was first introduced in an animated TV series — and readers of the current Batman Beyond comic have already seen many characters and concepts from the show interspersed with new ideas from Jurgens and Chang.
However, the lead role in the TV show was played by Terry McGinnis, but in the comics universe, that character traveled back in the past and died during the weekly The New 52: Futures End series. Terry gave former Robin Tim Drake the Batman Beyond costume, and Tim accepted the suit as he tried to save the world in Terry's place. Tim was eventually thrown into the future while wearing the suit, and that's where the new Batman Beyond picked up, starring Tim as a future version of Batman.
In the new world he discovers in the future, much of it has been ravaged by the destructive effects of Brother Eye, although Neo-Gotham has been kept it intact. But that existence is at risk by the end of Batman Beyond #2, and Newsarama talked to Jurgens to find out more about what's coming next in the series with issue #3 set to be released next week.
Newsarama: Dan, with the first couple issues, you've already re-established some of the familiar faces of the Batman Beyond universe, from the first pages with the Jokerz gang members to the last pages with Inque. How much is the Batman Beyond world informing this new one you're creating?
Dan Jurgens: A lot.
I’ve always said that we’re mixing the very best of the Batman Beyond universe along with aspect’s of DC’s present (Tim Drake) and its Great Disaster future. We’re trying to take the best of all those and weave them into our own little timeline for the DCU.
Nrama: What's Tim's mindset right now, as he not only didn't prevent Brother Eye from taking over the world in the "future," but now he's gotten himself compromised only shortly after arriving?
Jurgens: Tim’s mindset is that if he’s going to be called Batman, he better get cracking. That’s a lot to live up to.
In a way, I’ve always seen Tim as feeling somewhat insecure, as though he didn’t deserve to be a Robin, much less Batman.
On the surface, this story is about Tim Drake in the future. More than that, it’s about Tim’s journey to becoming Batman, framed against a world and Gotham that are very different to him. That’s a lot to take on.
Nrama: In the first couple issues of Batman Beyond, you were able to establish this new version of "veiled" Neo-Gotham and the Brother Eye ravaged world beyond. Now that Tim's potentially compromised by Brother Eye — as indicated by the cliffhanger at the end of #2 — and future solicitations indicate things go from bad to worse, how does the focus of the comic shift going into #3 and beyond?
Jurgens: Over the next couple of issues, we really focus on Gotham. As far as our characters are concerned, it’s earth’s last bastion of civilization and Brother Eye is there to take it down.
From a defensive standpoint, Tim is about all they left, and his track record isn’t exactly stellar, when it comes to Brother Eye. It’s really a question of, “Can this new Batman save Gotham?”
It’s a question that Tim is also asking himself.
Nrama: Will we continue to meet characters from the world of Batman Beyond? Are there any you can tease?
Jurgens: We’ve been introducing some familiar characters right from the start — beginning with Matt McGinnis and Barbara Gordon. We’re committed to that idea, every step of the way. There are a lot of great characters there — far too good to be left on the table.
The idea is to fit them in at the right moment, in the right way.
Nrama: There were characters at the end of The New 52: Futures End who haven't shown up in the Batman Beyond series yet. Will we see those characters in the series, or is that not as connected as we thought?
Jurgens: The two series are absolutely connected, but we’re really focusing on Tim and the new here.
We’ll see them at some point, as their stories are intertwined with Brother Eye as well.
Nrama: Batman Beyond #4's cover indicates Tim is returning to the Batcave. How important is his visit, not only to him as a person, but to the comic's overall story?
Jurgens: This is a Batman book, and any trip to the cave is bound to impact Tim as a character. It gets to the heart of who he is, as well as what Gotham has become in the future.
Nrama: What's it been like working with Bernard Chang on this series? What does he bring to the title?
Jurgens: Working with Bernard is an absolute joy. He was the first guy I suggested as artist for the book and I’m thrilled he was able to take it on.
This book is not set in the world you see outside your window. It’s the world of the future and it’s critical to have an artist with a real sense for design in order to create that world. Bernard excels at that and he and colorist Marcelo Maiolo have helped give us the unique look I was hoping for. Batman Beyond looks a bit different than other titles out there and that’s just what we wanted.
Nrama: As you head into the fall with this comic, what can you tell fans about what to expect going forward?
Jurgens: We’re committed to the idea of not only telling a good story, but also telling one that has a few surprises in it. We’ve have some big stuff coming up— some epic visual stuff— and that’s really part of our mission.
I think they’ll also find a nice little surprise at the end of #3. All part of the ride we’re trying to create for readers.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Batman Beyond?
Jurgens: Tim Drake has always been one of my favorite characters in the DCU. He’s a smart guy— a humane guy— and this is really his story. The path he’s on is different than anyone else’s in the DCU— unique and bound to take him on some interesting adventures.