With Brainiac about to hit Earth in The New 52: Futures End, the weekly series is finishing up most of the stories it launched in May while building toward the showdown that's coming in Convergence.
But as the series heads toward its March conclusion, two of the co-writers on Futures End, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen, want to make sure readers understand that:
A.) Futures End is not just a prologue to Convergence, and...
B.) Although the comic is set in a "possible" future, it will have ramifications within the current DC Universe.
Jurgens and Giffen have been co-writing Futures End with Brian Azzarello and Jeff Lemire, telling the story of what might be happening five years in the future since the series launched on Free Comic Book Day in May 2014.
The series is also tying into the upcoming DC mega-event Convergence, which replaces the DC regular line in April and May. Brainiac, the main threat in Convergence, has already been introduced to the title, and solicitations indicate the villain will be hitting Earth soon.
Jurgens is co-writing Convergence #0, the kick-off for the main title during the event, as well as writing tie-in comics Superman and Booster Gold. Giffen is writing the Supergirl: Matrix tie-in comic for the April/May event.
(And Giffen indicated readers of Futures End will see the "placement" of the domed cities that will be featured in Convergence.)
Newsarama talked to Giffen and Jurgens to find out more about the last few issues of Futures End and what readers can expect as the DC Universe barrels toward Convergence.
Newsarama: Dan and Keith, as Futures End nears its conclusion, it looks like Brainiac is hitting Earth soon — in early February with Futures End #40 — while a few of the story threads are heading toward their conclusion and other things are really heating up. How would you describe this moment in time in Futures End?
Dan Jurgens: We're right on the verge of the epic climax.
As this builds more and more, we're starting to resolve the personal stories of a number of the characters involved, and we'll start to focus more on the overall threat and plot.
The first one is Brainiac, and we're certainly working toward that one.
And behind Brainiac is some of what we saw in issue #0, which is Brother Eye.
Keith Giffen: A lot of what I've been doing, and I know a lot of what Jeff Lemire has been doing, is really clearing the decks for these storylines — Brainiac and Brother Eye.
We're resolving some of the personal stories we've been telling to kind of make space for these epic climaxes.
Where'd you get that, Dan? "Epic climax?"
Jurgens: [Laughs] I was slipping into Dan-speak.
Giffen: Ah, OK.
Nrama: The Brother Eye story has come crashing into the story with this two-headed Batman/Joker character.
Giffen: Yeah, the Jokerborg, as we call him — he was dispatched from 35-years-later, so he's definitely got a Brother Eye connection and will play a role as the story races to its conclusion.
Jurgens: Whenever we see the Jokerborg — and that really is the name that Brian gave him — whenever we see the Jokerborg on the page, he has a certain kind of magic to him. When he was first created and we saw him manifest, I remember Aaron Lopresti got to draw that stuff, and I remember looking at it and thinking, "man, I wish I could have gotten to draw that sequence," because whenever he shows up and is on the page, he sort of takes charge.
Nrama: Both of you are involved in Convergence — and Dan, I know you're one of the lead writers on the main book. How much does that inform what you've been doing in the weekly, since the Brainiac storyline ties in so heavily, especially in upcoming issues?
Jurgens: We had started talking about what Convergence would be, back in the early planning stages on Futures End. We always knew there was a destination out there. But in the meantime, we were focused on telling this particular story.
Obviously, there are some aspects of our story that are going to lead right into Convergence. But our primary focus from day one has always been Futures End, and how do we get a really good, solid, 48-issue story out of it. And that's how all the characters come into it.
It's almost like getting on a bus in California and riding to New York, and along the way, you get to meet a lot of people and have a lot of different conversations with the people on the bus, and yeah, eventually you'll get there, but you're always going to remember the time you spent on the bus. And I think that's the story that we have to tell.
Giffen: I feel like Futures End can stand on its own. I know the stuff I did for Convergence, I treated it like just a separate entity from the things that were done in Futures End — at least the story I was telling in Convergence. Besides the placement of where the cities are, I didn't really focus on Futures End at all.
I know Dan has a different take on that, because he was doing one of the important books, the anchor books for Convergence, so he's tying more into the set-up of events.
But the idea of Futures End isn't just about setting up Convergence. Futures End is an entity in and of itself. It will end, and the ending should satisfy all of the readers.
There will be a couple of open plotlines — in comics, endings usually have a couple of open plotlines. But it won't be anything that makes the readers feel like they just read one, long, drawn-out prologue.
Nrama: Let's talk about what's coming up. You've got a lot of different storylines that feel like they're wrapping up, from Madison and Jason being the female Firestorm, to Fifty Sue uniting with Lana and Cole, and several others. With the Brainiac story looming large on the horizon — only a couple weeks away from its appearance in the book — how would you describe the next couple months of Futures End?
Giffen: I'd just like to mention one thing — how resentful I am of people who remember Madison's name, because every time I talk to Dan, I forget her name and he has to remind me.
Jurgens: [Laughs] It's true.
Giffen: But what's happening in the next couple months, and even the next couple weeks, is that elements of the book are coming to fruition. All of the characters that have been playing lead roles in this book will see their stories end in one way or another.
Jurgens: Some of them — for example Shazam and Superman — theirs will be very, very stitched into the conclusion of the book. Whereas, if you look at where Keith is taking Fifty Sue and that family unit and the way that's going to resolve itself — that's not as involved with the conclusion of the book as a whole, and it has this really nice, I think, fun ending to it that is so incredibly appropriate to the characters.
What we really tried to do here is be as true to the characters as we possibly could be, as we were running through to the end of the story.
Nrama: There was a sense, when this book started, that Futures End was only a "possible" future — and the 35-years-later future as well — and that it didn't tie into current continuity at all. But with Brainiac coming into the book, we know he has access to all timelines, including the current one. Can you address the perception that Futures End is just a future that probably won't happen and doesn't tie into current day?
Giffen: I suppose the best way to put it would be that Dan and Jeff and Brian and I would not spend a year telling stories that had no impact at all, and that were just erased at the end. Make of that what you will.
The ending will surprise some people. And those out there who think we're telling one "Elseworlds" story or telling an imaginary tale — those are the people who are going to be disappointed.
Jurgens: Right from the very start, as soon as we contemplated, back in the earliest days, the idea of telling a story that would exist five years from now, the thing we kept talking to Dan DiDio about was that, we don't want to tell an imaginary story, we don't want to do a "what if" story or anything like that.
Keith said it best — if we were going to spend a year telling a story, and asking readers to buy every issue every week for a year, we had to tell something that was real.
Nrama: How much did this story change over time? I mean, with Brainiac being a lead character in the next couple months until it ends, I have to imagine that you didn't know every single story beat of Convergence all the way back when this thing ended, months before the #1 issue came out. Did you guys know where this was going and how it would tie into the greater DCU?
Giffen: To one extent or another. I mean, I still have no idea where Fifty Sue is going. [Laughs.]
No, each of us knew where our individual stories were going. The greater environment that they were in — the big stories — evolved as time went by.
I think it's safe to say the Brother Eye and the Brainiac stories are not the same stories that we had been talking about when they were first brought up a year ago. But on the other hand, Firestorm, Madison, Batman Beyond, Superman — certain characters are the same.
Nrama: You remembered her name!
Giffen: Well, yeah, but you just said it!
Jurgens: That never stopped you before!
Giffen: Yes, that's true.
But basically, certain aspects of the story, when we walked in, we knew what kind of stories we wanted to tell about the characters. And that hasn't changed that much.
But the overreaching story has done quite a bit of evolving as we've gone along.
Jurgens: But it was driven by the characters.
It's weird, because we've never had this conversation among the writers before. But Keith is right — if you look at what we all wrote down for the characters on day one, all of that stuff has stayed pretty much right true to form.
The plot has changed from time to time, but it was all character driven.
Nrama: Where are you guys in the writing process? Are you done with the series?
Jurgens: No, I'm writing my section of issue #47, even as we speak.
Giffen: Issue #47 and #48, and then we're done.
Jurgens: Yep, we're almost there. We're almost there.