According to the writers of The New 52: Futures End, they "organically" came up with the idea for the future war with Earth 2 that appears to drive much of what's coming in the DCU over the coming months.
Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens told Newsarama that their creative team on Futures End is not only "setting some of the parameters" for what's coming in DC's next weekly, Earth 2: World's End, but they're also personally writing "a few" of the issues for DC's September "Five Years Later" event — including (but not limited to) Jurgens' return to Booster Gold.
Giffen and Jurgens are co-writing the weekly series with Brian Azzarello and Jeff Lemire, launching the title earlier this month with a #0 issue on Free Comic Book Day. Now that readers have seen what the DC Universe might look like in 35 years in The New 52: Futures End #0, and what it's possibly going to look like in five years in this week's issue #1, two of the writers behind the weekly series talked to Newsarama about the futuristic story.
Newsarama: Dan and Keith, one of the things that really strikes me about this is the freedom that's available to you guys, because it's in the future, to just really write this over-the-top story where Wonder Woman is a mechanical spider and Batman's arm is cut off and lots of other crazy stuff. Is that one of the things that attracted you to it? Is that a correct description?
Dan Jurgens: Yes, it is a correct description, and that's certainly one of the things that attracted us to it, because obviously, when you're doing a weekly, if you're doing it concurrently with the DC Universe, set in the present, obviously that poses all sorts of logistical problems. So if you're dealing with five years from now, not only does that free you up in terms of the characters a bit, but it really frees you up in terms of the settings and environment.
And that's absolutely what attracted us.
Keith Giffen: Yeah, keep in mind too that even though it's five years in the future (or in the case of issue #0, 35 years in the future), just because it's in the future doesn't mean it's our characters, so we can't just go through and really do everything we'd like, because we're still caretakers of these characters.
But Dan's right. There's a lot of freedom. And the same thing attracted me to this project that attracted me to Justice League 3000 — if you're in the future, they don't mess with you that much.
Nrama: Yeah, but that said, you guys have already been mentioning Earth 2 and this war that's coming up in the next five years. Aren't you held to some things that are going to happen, or something that's going to be in World's End, even though this is technically a "possible" future?
Giffen: Yeah. That five years gap was pretty much wide open. Some things were dropped in by other people, but for the most part…
Dan, correct me if I'm wrong, but did we come up with this whole Earth 2 war thing? Or was this brought to us? Because I seem to recall it being organic.
Jurgens: It was more or less organic, yeah.
We wanted to have a world that was different from the world that we have right now, in terms of the DCU. And what kind of changes could you put it through? What are the things that might have happened?
And obviously, if you look at most of the most transformative events in history, it often comes down to a war of some kind. Not always, but that's what you find at the center of so many of them. And so that was very attractive to us.
Nrama: Because you chose to kick off the story 25 years in the future, starting with Terry McGinnis and his motivation to come to the past, is it accurate to say this is a Batman Beyond story, with a supporting cast? He seems to be playing a big part in this. He's the one with the mission.
Jurgens: What you'll get down to is this — we have 47 issues. [Laughs.] There's plenty of story and plenty of pages to go around for everything. And what we've tried to explain is that you can take Terry McGinnis, for example, right now it looks like we have four very different story plotlines going. Eventually, these things will start to weave over and come together.
So by the time it's all said and done with, yes, this will be a huge Terry McGinnis story.
But along the way, he will interact with these other characters we're getting on stage as well. There does come the point where a lot of these characters really start to weave and overlap, and we'll trade them off here and there a bit, so it comes full circle.
Giffen: And keep in mind, deep down in our heart of hearts where we live, Dan really thinks it's a Firestorm story and I really think it's a Grifter story. So, we'll get along alright.
Nrama: So there are certain characters that are "your" characters.
Giffen: Well, they're characters that we initially chose. But if the character that I'm writing suddenly veers into Batman Beyond and would fit much better into the story that Brian's writing, I'd be more than happy to let Brian have the character. You have to be willing to let go if circumstances dictate it.
So yeah, we're handling some characters but nothing's etched.
Nrama: The issue #0 that took place 35 years in the future — will we see 35 years in the future again?
Jurgens: Yes. That is too good a setting, and with too many interesting characters and scenarios to ignore. So yeah, we will get back to that.
Nrama: And the characters who got the focus in issue #0, like Blue Beetle or John Stewart — are those characters also going to play a role in the overall weekly? Or were those cameos just for issue #0?
Jurgens: Without getting into specifics, I think it's best to say that we have an incredibly large cast that we're dealing with by the time we through all of this. You'll see some characters return. Some you will not see return. And we'll have new additions that people haven't even dreamed of yet.
Nrama: OK, let's talk about the cliffhanger, which was a dead Green Arrow. First off, who decided to give him a beard? Was that Jeff Lemire finally giving in to fan pressure?
Giffen: Yeah, I'd like to know that myself.
Jurgens: I think it was Jeff, yeah! I think it was Jeff.
It's funny, I was thinking about that the other day. We should give a lot of credit to Ryan Sook. Ryan is doing all of our cover design, as well as all the individual character design.
So when Ryan would have done his initial Green Arrow sketches and design, yeah, he would have been bouncing that off Jeff — in between them, or whether it was under Jeff's guidance, they must have decided to go with the bearded look. And we'd just say, that looks fine!
Nrama: We've seen in solicitations that Firestorm is going to get nailed for the murder of Green Arrow. What were your thoughts about using the character, and can you tease what we'll see with the character at the center of this murder mystery?
Jurgens: When people ask, why Firestorm? I come down to this in trying to explain it: When you deal with a world five years from now, we ask what are the changes someone goes through in five years? And when last we would have seen Firestorm, he was a high school student, happy-go-lucky lifestyle. And often, it's that age from, say, 17 to 22 for example, where you're a college senior, where you go through this incredible change.
So both these guys have gone through those changes — Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond — and this will be the story not only of them being accused for what would have happened to Green Arrow and the ramifications of that, but the ramifications between the two of them. And what do they do? And what have these guys become five years down the road?
Nrama: And Keith, how about Grifter? What attracted you to using this character's story five years in the future, and what kind of things will we see from him?
Giffen: To be honest with you, with Grifter, I pulled a stunt that I pull with a lot of these projects, and that is I wait until the very end and whatever's left on the table, I take. I'm being honest here. And Grifter was left on the table.
When I first got him, I thought, what am I supposed to do with him? I didn't know what to do with him. But if you think long and hard enough about a character, and DC is willing to let you play around with it and revamp him a little, you can find something that will make the character unique.
So it's my attempt to prove to the comic book fans that Grifter's book should not have been canceled after all.
Nrama: Keith, we talked to Dan and Brian at C2E2, and they said that you’re the “blow everything up” guy.
Giffen: Well, yeah, OK, yes. I will admit that my general reaction to any suggestion is, let's destroy it. I've got certain things I'm constantly harping on.
And you should be glad I don't get my way. If I had my way, everybody who was a duplicate in the DC Universe would be gone. One Batman. One Bat — the girl, the boy? Gone. Everyone with "super" in their name except Superman? Gone.
So yeah, I do tend to reach for the TNT much more than the other guys do. Yeah.
Nrama: Are you guys coordinating this with the folks who are writing Earth 2: World's End? I know we're way out from that, but I assume you know what they're doing, because these two tie into each other.
Jurgens: Yes. Yeah, obviously, both groups have to have a dialogue going, and we're in a situation that, just because we're up and running right now, just in terms of production, we're probably setting some of the parameters of it.
But yeah, they certainly have a lot of input into what we're fashioning on a much larger level for the DC Universe.
Nrama: Same thing with the September issues? I know not all off them tie into the weekly directly, but most do, right? Are you in on that? Or is that more of an editorial thing?
Jurgens: The September issues tell the story of the DC Universe five years from now. And I'm doing some of them. And Keith, you are as well?
Jurgens: So yeah, it gives everyone the ability to explore the individual characters a bit more.
Giffen: Yeah, the only thing we're really keeping an eye on is whether somebody invalidates what we've been doing so far. So it's not like we're controlling all the books. We're just sort of keeping a weather eye on them, to make sure things remain consistent.
Jurgens: Other than that, it's just supposed to be fun.
Nrama: OK, you guys just kind of dropped a bomb that you're writing a "few" of the September issues.
Giffen: See, I'm not the only one who bombs things.
Nrama: But there's one in there, Booster Gold, that you're right?
Jurgens: Yeah, I'm writing the Booster Gold five years later issue.
Actually, Keith and I should have played this one off each other and talked about the fight we had as to who would get to write it. I won!
Giffen: That would have been much more interesting.
Nrama: No, because Keith has already established that he takes what's left on the table.
Jurgens: He said that, but that's not what happens.
Nrama: Does Booster come into play at all in the weekly? I know you don't want to spoil anything, but he is around five years later, in the September issue, and he is a time traveler…
Jurgens: He is a time traveler, isn't he? Interesting.
Giffen: Yeah, he is a time traveler. That's a pretty good idea! Yeah!
Nrama: Alright, I'll leave it at that. Then to finish up, now that we've read issue #0 and seen the 25-years-later DCU, and we've read issue #1 and seen the five-years-later DCU, is there anything you can tell us about what's coming up in Futures End #2?
Giffen: I think we'd be kind of remiss if we didn't mention Brian and Jeff here. It's equal partners, across the board. Dan and I could not do this book without them. We certainly couldn't do it in the same way.
They both bring unique voices to the book.
It's great to have a team where you can sort of feed off one another's input, and nobody walks into the room with an ego too big. This has been as pleasant an experience as a weekly can be, simply because a weekly, just by being a weekly, can get a little nerve-wracking at times.
Jurgens: Yeah, I would echo that. You know, for the most part, even though we knew each other, we hadn't really worked together before. And I'd say the four of us really have developed a voice — kind of a collaborative voice — that is carrying the book.
It really has been a remarkably positive experience. And that's the kind of thing that people expect you to say, but we're not B.S.-ing anybody on that one.
Giffen: We're not blowing smoke here. It is true. It is true.
Nrama: You said a collaborative voice — so you think it shows in the pages?
Jurgens: Yes, absolutely.
Jurgens: The biggest thing is, whenever we get together to plot out one of the issues, the way we work is, we're all helping each other. Everybody contributes ideas across the board. We're all willing to sacrifice pages or room so the other guy can really emphasize something in his story. It really has been fantastic.
Giffen: A major — a major plot point that I've got coming up in the story I'm telling did not come from me. It was from one of the other guys in the room who suggested it and actually helped work it out. So it's extraordinarily collaborative. It's extraordinarily collaborative.
Nrama: OK, but you guys skipped over my request for a hint about what's coming up in issue #2.
Giffen: We know. We know. We knew what we were doing.
Nrama: I know, but I know what I'm doing too!
Jurgens: Look, in #2 — we just saw someone die in #1, so what always happens a few days later? You've got to have a funeral. It's the funeral!