Over at IGN, the co-publishers of DC Comics Jim Lee and Dan DiDio got chatty in the midst of this year’s September event: Futures End.
The September event has been an annual occurrence for the US’s second biggest publisher of comics since 2011, when they launched the entire line anew with the New 52. Since then, they’ve gone back to the beginning with Zero Month, focused on the bad guys with Villain’s Month, and now they jump all their books 5 years into the future with Futures End.
”I consider the New 52 one of my career highlights, of all the cool things I’ve been involved in for the past 27 years,” Lee started the conversation with IGN’s Joshua Yehl. “We’re proud that we try to challenge ourselves and grow. I think that attitude is what’s the most important,” DiDio added looking back. The pair specifically called out the new takes on Aquaman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman as being stand-outs in the launch.
As for what hasn’t worked in the New 52, DiDio said that the second year of the new universe “wound up telling stories that felt like rehashes.” After the first year of very strong tales, they started to “fall back into old habits,” he admitted, and “took shortcuts in regards to just re-introducing characters without really rethinking them all the way through with a fresh set of eyes for the fresh new universe that it was.” Lee said that’s what Batgirl and Gotham Academy’s upcoming changes are designed to prevent.
The jump forward as this year’s event is intended to “set that mystery up” of whether this is or isn’t where things wind up in five years of DCU time, Lee said. “Ultimately, the way you get there may not even be the way you predict, and the outcome may be very different in that there may be fake reveals or things that you think to be true that aren't true. So there's a lot of great storytelling to be done doing something like this.”
However, DiDio says, that doesn’t mean these are all just “What if” or throwaway stories. “In a lot of these stories, it’s what we feel is the definitive direction of the DC Universe. As the Futures End storyline unfolds, it’ll take us to places that give us the breadth and scope of what the DC Universe really stands for and what it is.” Lee added, “Taken literally, it's five years in our time and five years in story time. So it's in the future, and again I think the thing that resonates with creators is what we can all rally around and say, ‘That's really cool. I'll go for that story. That's a cool character.’ So let's move toward that and lean into it. That doesn't mean it necessarily happens exactly like that, scene for scene, but as you approach it you start to see, ‘Hey, this is the direction of the DC Universe.’”
They also talked about which are their favorite of the looks ahead, and which are “most important.” Green Arrow, Grayson, Superman, and Booster Gold all got shout-outs, with Booster in particular “being probably one of the pivotal points in the DC Universe and being one of the biggest clues for what we have coming next year,” so readers should keep an eye on that. DiDio called it “incredibly satisfying” to write the “story your book could never get to” in regards to Phantom Stranger.
As for what specifically is coming, well, “you get a chance to see the final battle between Earth 2 and Apokolips,” DiDio said. That then helps to determine “the future for Futures End.” But Futures End, Earth 2: World’s End are not just a duology, they are part of an “epic trilogy,” he said, hinting once more at a larger event in 2015.
”I think if you love cosmic, epic storylines with some interesting time travel twists and turns, this is the story, and it really sets the stage for an epic storyline that runs through a trilogy of stories that culminate in 2015,” Lee specified. The multiverse is heavily involved, DiDio teased, as well as the ‘many generations” of “legendary interpretations of heroes over the years.” Lee capped it off, promising that “Every fan will have cause to rejoice and celebrate next year.” That year? Well it’s the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, as we have been hammering home for months.