DC Comics’ second weekly series launching in 2014, Futures End, has a zero issue coming on Free Comic Book Day. The zero issue, as fully revealed at C2E2 in Chicago, IL over the weekend, actually starts about thirty-five years in the future, bringing it back to the “Five Years Later” time-period fans already knew about.
But outside of a panel giving basic teases, Newsarama had the chance to sit down with half the writing team of Futures End (remember – it’s plural, not possessive… more on that later), Brian Azzarello and Dan Jurgens (Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire were not at the convention).
The pair of writers talked at length about what each writer brings to the project, how things have changed since it was conceived of nearly a year ago, and what this all means for Booster Gold, the Crisis on Infinite Earths 30th anniversary, and perhaps even Azzarello’s future with the DC Universe.
Newsarama: Well, Mr. Azzarello, Mr. Jurgens – obviously the big deal here is your joint writing project with Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire, Futures End, which kicks off this week on Free Comic Book Day with a zero issue. How long have you guys been working on this, now that it’s coming to fruition?
Brian Azzarello: I came to the dance a little late.
Dan Jurgens: Yeah, we had first started in June of last year. Then we changed some stuff and stepped back and everything. I want to say – did you come in…
Azzarello: Beginning of August or something like that?
Jurgens: Yeah, that sounds right. So the project as it exists now, as it’s formatted, that started in August of last year.
Nrama: Wow, so how much has it changed and evolved as you’ve been working on it? Obviously with the four disparate voices as you said at the DC Comics panel, it has to be pretty fluid project…
Jurgens: It’s been very fluid!
Azzarello: Yeah, fluid’s the word for it, man. Diarrheic maybe? (laughs)
Jurgens: (laughs) It’s interesting. I was explaining this to a friend this way. In many ways, it’s like a band. One guy has the garage, and has the drumset – so that’s where they’ll play, but they’ve never met before. One guy plays bass, and one plays guitar, and the other guy’s the keyboard guy, but they’ve never really worked together before. So if you ask them to play a certain song, everybody knows the notes, but it’s still not necessarily going to come together. It takes a little while, a little rehearsal, to make it come together, and to really make it be their own thing.
That’s where the differences among the writers is absolutely a key part of this. I think it has made us stronger in terms of a product. Because we are going in places that any one of us probably wouldn’t have gone. But it has morphed into that, and a lot of it is a project that has changed a lot. One of the reasons it is changing is that we’ve had other things put into it. We’ll talk about, “well then that changes the end,” or “that goes back and changes what we might’ve done in our first issue.” So it’s always been in this state of evolution, and now it’s settled down and full speed ahead. Or at least, going ahead. (laughs) I don’t know about full speed, but we are moving!
Azzarello: Trudging along. (laughs)
It’s been real interesting. I’ve never done anything like this before – in fact, I’ve been anti-this kind of stuff. It’s been interesting, and it’s been pretty rewarding working with the other writers, the three of you guys, it’s been good. I think we’re challenging each other.
We come at these stories from really four different perspectives. It’s been really, really weird to be the voice of reason! (laughs)
Nrama: Well let me ask you this, Brian, what do you think is your perspective then, coming into this big, world-changing story for the DC Universe?
Azzarello: (shakes his head) Well when you put it that way! (laughs)
I know Dan DiDio brought me in because he wanted someone who looks at this sort of thing from a different angle. I think he brought me in to break it, but they already had Keith for that, because that’s all Keith wants to do.
Jurgens: Yeah! (laughs)
Azzarello: All Keith wants to do is break things. So, instead, I’ve been more the one giving Keith a reason to break things! (laughs). “You better have a good reason before you break that!” Then he says what the reason is and he smashes it.
Nrama: What about you, Dan, what’s your perspective coming into this event?
Jurgens: I don’t know! I always kind of wonder why, necessarily… I told Dan [DiDio] that I have this image of him, where he’s sitting in this swanky Jim Phelps style apartment from Mission Impossible, and he’s putting these pictures down on a table, where it’s everyone from DC Comics, and suddenly someone makes the “in” pile, and that’s Keith or someone like that. I always have that image in my head, but when we saw Phelps doing that in the show, we never got to find out why. We’d just see the discard pile and the in pile.
It was funny, just listening to what Brian said a bit – I think what Brian is doing a lot, is he’s helping us hone in on character attributes. I tend to think more plot-oriented stuff sometimes, and I think a lot of what’s happened is, as we’ve worked as a group, we talked about plot. And plot often comes with certain destinations in mind. It’s like, by issue 30 we’re here, and 40 we’re there. I think Brian has been really key in some of the things he said, where it makes me step back and look at character.
Azzarello: Heh, that’s true, I do point that out to you a lot, yeah.
Jurgens: It’s absolutely true! And now I’ll ask you about that, too. And that’s where you start to really trust the different guys in the room a bit, that’s core stuff. So somehow, Brian has really evolved into that voice.
Everybody has evolved into different voices. Jeff, I think, is the one who has evolved into a little more on the quirky side.
Azzarello: Very much so, yeah.
Jurgens: All of a sudden it’s like, Jeff will say, “what if we do this?” so he’s kind of the out-of-left-field guy. Keith is, yeah, the “let’s break this, blow it up” guy. Then we’ll have to talk him off the ledge a bit and make sure we see why.
Nrama: So, Dan DiDio revealed that both Futures End and World’s End, well, end, at the same time. And they happen to both end right before the 30th Anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths! A lot of people are wondering, that can’t possibly just be a coincidence, can it?
[Newsarama Note: Both writers looked at each other, and then at DC Publicity, then answered the question]
Jurgens: It can be a coincidence…
Azzarello: …but let’s call it “serendipitous.” (laughs)
Jurgens: Yeah! Yeah, that’s the perfect word for it.
As we’re doing this, it isn’t a story that just climbs the hill, goes back down the hill, and has a single particular conclusion. There are a lot of ramifications that come from this, and a lot of wrinkles that come off of Futures End, and go, I think it’s safe to say, beyond the nature of the project itself. Is that fair? (DC Marketing and publicity nods) Thank you, I’m looking for that parental nod! (laughs)
We certainly are building and constructing something in mind, both for this story, and something that has a platform that we can build off beyond that.
Nrama: Okay, well for each of you on solo projects here. Dan, obviously a lot of people were excited to see Booster Gold #1 in that list of September specials – what can you say about this tie-in, and is there hope for us to see…
Azzarello: It’s a time-travel story, what do you think? (laughs)
Jurgens: (laughs) Exactly right!
Azzarello: I mean, we wouldn’t do a caveman story without Anthro either, right?
Jurgens: Right! So there’s a Booster Gold book in September. I am writing it. And obviously, you’ve seen the MC Escher style poster that we have, and that’s supposed to get a lot of people asking a lot of questions. And like Brian said, if you start to have a time travel story, you start to have these things happen and you look at the various characters that are involved, by the time we get through telling the story we have to tell, there has to be some logic to it, and all that – including Booster – comes into it.
Nrama: And Brian, you went from somewhat of the ultimate solo project with this long-form Wonder Woman story to this crazy group project with Futures End…
Azzarello: What was I thinking?
Nrama: (laughs) Well, where do you think this is steering you in your future with DC Comics characters?
Azzarello: (laughs) Oh, the end!
Nrama: Ha, fair enough. Well, to wrap up here, gentlemen, I found it very interesting that it’s Futures End, plural, not possessive.
Jurgens: Right, there is no apostrophe.
Nrama: Can you tell us a little bit about why it would be plural and not possessive, and what that might imply to readers?
Jurgens: We have a lot of characters in the book. You know, we’re all juggling casts of different sizes, and the journey that they go on through this entire series. Obviously some of that has to come to a conclusion somehow. Some of these characters are going to evolve. As we understand them now, you can see it as somewhat of an end.
Azzarello: Yeah, I don’t have anything to really add to that, Dan’s right.
Nrama: Any last teases before the zero issue comes out? Anything you’re particularly excited for people to see?
Jurgens: I think some of it is going to be that we really have some big moments coming in the book – we tried to construct it where maybe Brian has characters in the book going one way, and another, and what may seem to be very divergent in the beginning, will ultimately come together in some way. There are some surprises along the way. That’s part of the fun, is the way these characters that all seem to begin in different places. You put it in geographical terms, here’s one in Paris, one in Texas, one in South Dakota, and somehow, as the story goes along, they come together.
Azzarello: Right, and we’re going to be handing characters off. So characters that I’m working on in the beginning, Dan might be picking up.
Nrama: Okay, so rather than you just taking, for example, Grifter, and doing Grifter stories throughout the whole series…
Azzarello: Right. There’s a point where a character I’m using is more served in a story that Dan’s telling, so it makes more sense – rather than me taking over Dan’s story and finishing it, for me to just give Dan that character.
Jurgens: And some of it to is some of the characters who might seem insignificant in the beginning – just some guy standing in the corner, could be very significant by the time it’s all over. That’s where I think we have some real surprises, and some fun stuff for readers.
Azzarello: Yeah, there was one character that I was supposed to do pretty much the whole thing with, and Jeff’s taken over that story now. It just made sense with the story he’s telling. He’s going to work a lot better in that corner that Jeff’s exploring, so I said “please, take him!”
And the same thing happened with Constantine the other way – Jeff was going to do everything with him, and now I have Constantine.
Jurgens: Yeah, there’s a point, I have Lois Lane through a certain point in the story, and there’s a very clear hand-off point where Lois goes from being part of my cast, and moves into Jeff’s cast, and she plugs-in to that group of characters and that story. That’s how we’re weaving these things together.
Azzarello: And it’s been really good working with these guys, because we’re not bringing egos to it. We all understand that at the end of the day we need to serve the story that we’re telling.
If we all had – it’s something that, when I go over the lettering, I hope the voices are pretty together – you want it to read like one writer, instead of four different writers. And for the most part, there’s been a few spots, usually it’s Keith… (laughs)