Batman Beyond is indeed going back to the future.
The character born in the cartoons has been a fixture in the DC future 35 years out, but with the Futures End series, Terry McGinnis went back 30 years to the continuity inhabited by all the DC characters.
Now, with DC’s June mini-relaunch, a new Batman Beyond title will be born, returning the character to his original timeline, which solicits blurb as “THE definitive future of the DCU” (i.e. sorry Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns). Dan Jurgens was one of the writers on Futures End, and he’ll write the new Batman Beyond series, with Bernard Chang on art. Newsarama spoke with them about their plans last month. But first, here is the Batman Beyond #1 solicitation copy in full.
"At last, Batman Beyond gets his own ongoing series in THE definitive future of the DCU! But this isn’t the Beyond you think you know! With the Justice League missing and without Bruce to guide him, this new Batman will need to explore this bizarre world on his own while fighting to raise humanity from an opponent that’s already won.
"The heroes Batman knew have failed, the world he knew has been turned on its head, and every step he takes will lead him either toward finding home – or further down the road of disaster!"
Newsarama: Dan, Bernard, what’s the high concept? Where do we start in Batman Beyond #1?
Jurgens: The high concept is simply it’s young Batman in the future in a high-tech suit. And of course, no one is going to call him “Beyond.” He’s Batman.
Chang: Yes, 35 years in the future.
Nrama: That’s one thing I was going to ask: With this new launch, was he being brought into the present? It would appear not.
Chang: Right. And that gives us a lot of room to develop a new path. Instead of being beholden to what’s happening elsewhere in the DC Universe, or what’s been established in the animated series, we can have a little more room to run.
Nrama: There’s a lot of new stuff happening with 24 new #1 issues. How did Batman Beyond make that cut? What’s the genesis of how this title comes to be?
Jurgens: Well, we showed Terry McGinnis, our “Batman Beyond,” 35 years in the future right there in the first issue of Future’s End. He came back to our time, and has been working as Batman Beyond. So even at that time, way back when we started putting Future’s End together, we were thinking, “Well, maybe. Maybe when we’re done with this weekly series, maybe we can keep playing around in that future and show the world what the DCU is like 35 years form now.” So it was always kind of a thought in the back of the head that, yeah, maybe, we could do it. And as Future’s End wound to a close, we kind of decided, yeah, there is something of worth there. So we go for it.
Nrama: Bernard, you mentioned having some room to run, being cast out there 35 years in the future. What kind of stuff are you enjoying in having this latitude?
Chang: Well, I’ve really been shadowing Dan the last couple of days—and I think he’s getting annoyed with it—but even earlier today, we were sitting downstairs and designing one of the villains and I found that I really enjoy picking Dan’s brain, getting a sense of his sensibilities and infusing that with my own design aspect as well.
I think a lot of the people are used to seeing the character in the animated show, but now we really get a chance to integrate the character fully into the DC Universe. What we do will be based in what people have seen before, but definitely won’t be wholly beholden to it.
Nrama: In terms of the design, how close is it to the “traditional” animated character we’ve seen? Will it be something new?
Chang: It’ll be a slight departure. We’re still working on some of the costume aspects. We’re dealing right now with the mask, the helmet, the silhouette. And he’s always been a character with a lot of gadgets and technology, so projecting that out 35 years…I mean, think about 35 years ago. We didn’t even have the Internet. Envisioning what the world 35 from years from now will be is the most fun aspect to me in this.
Nrama: So what happens in issue #1? How do we hit the ground running?
Jurgens: We’re in the future, and we introduce readers quickly to who Batman Beyond is, what the world is, and who else might be there as quickly as we can.
And from there…it’s exotic adventure. It’s a different world, it’s a glimpse into the future of the DC Universe, and because of that, we can tell wide-open stories on an almost limitless canvas. If we want to say a nuclear weapon hit Gotham and cascaded through and wiped out Metropolis, we can do that. So that kind of wide-open adventure is what you’ll get.
Chang: And with a 35-year gap between where we are now and where our book will take place, there’s a lot of room for mystery, buildup, and “what happened in the middle.” I think it’ll be a fun experience for the reader.
Nrama: Again, in June, there’s a lot of new stuff coming out. As readers, what are you most looking forward to seeing?
Jurgens: Bizarro. I think everyone here is at least a little bit attracted to that book. The look of Black Canary is very intriguing. I think Prez will be very interesting. But I think a lot of it is just the mix itself. I think there’s a lot of cool stuff that will attract a lot of new readers.
Chang: For me, it’s not a book, it’s all the new writers and artists. And there are so many artists who aren’t associated with a traditional superhero “style.” But we’re seeing new stuff really punch through the wall. Batgirl did it. And Ben Caldwell on Prez…I’ve known Ben for years, and his stuff is amazing. And there are a lot of other newcomers—[Black Canary artist] Annie Wu, [Dr. Fate artist] Sonny Liew…they’re going to bring a completely different kind of take to a lot of traditional favorites.