As Batman Beyond enters 2016, the mission for its hero has changed quite a bit. With the recent defeat of its main villain Brother Eye, the new year brings new opportunities for Beyond-universe world building by the series's creative team, Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang.
When the book launched back in June, a more experienced and adult Tim Drake had been thrust into the future. The new Batman Beyond series, based on the animated show of the same name, introduced readers to a DC future that had been decimated by Brother Eye, but offered hope that Tim Drake and friends could neutralize the threat.
Now that Tim's succeeded, Jurgens is exploring the hero's relationship with Matt McGinnis, the younger brother of Terry McGinnis (who formerly wore the Batman Beyond costume). Young Matt has found a remnant of the former Justice League — an arm with a Green Lantern ring — and has taken it to Metropolis.
Newsarama talked to Jurgens to find out more about Jurgens' plans for the series, how Matt McGinnis will continue to play a role in Batman Beyond, and what else readers can expect from Tim Drake's adventures in the future.
Newsarama: Dan, now that Brother Eye appears to be defeated in the future, what is the greatest threat to this Batman's world?
Dan Jurgens: We have several things happening.
The first is that Brother Eye’s actions have left Earth in a bit of a mess. Cities and civilization have fallen into very different states of existence, with Gotham faring better than most other places.
The mission now is very much one of rebuilding the world and getting people back on their feet. The problem is that there will always people who seek to exploit that for themselves and turn it even darker, so long as it benefits them.
Batman will find that out when he goes to Metropolis… or what used to be called Metropolis, anyway, as our next storyline is called “City of Yesterday”.
Nrama: What type of stories is Batman Beyond giving you the chance to explore? What themes are at the center of the stories you've done and the ones you're planning?
Jurgens: At this point, I want to dive deeper into the character of Tim Drake. How is this world different for him on a personal level? What does this new version of Gotham mean to him?
And, more importantly, what are his relationships with the other characters in the book, like Barbara Gordon and Terry McGinnis’ younger brother Matt?
Nrama: You mentioned that Neo-Gotham has fared better than most of the world n this future. How would you describe the state of Neo-Gotham now?
Jurgens: Neo-Gotham, as far as is generally known, is probably the most stable city on Earth. It was able to build a successful defense against Brother Eye that meant it could be preserved.
So, in a bit of a flip as far as the DCU goes, it has now transitioned to something of the shining beacon, which is rather ironic. It’s the place that people seek out, as it means safety and stability.
Nrama: But the story is moving to another city. Why is Batman going to Metropolis and what can you tell us about the state of the "City of Tomorrow" now?
Jurgens: Batman is going to Metropolis because that’s where Matt McGinnis has gone. He needs to bring him back because it is generally well known that Metropolis isn’t safe.
Nrama: It's tough to know what side Matt's on. How does Matt feel about Batman right now?
Jurgens: Matt’s on his own side.
While he has come to accept the idea of Tim Drake wearing the Batman costume, he hasn’t grown comfortable with the idea.
Remember, in that world, all they knew is that Terry McGinnis disappeared. Then, out of nowhere, Tim Drake came back in the suit and told them Terry was dead. That’s hard for anyone to accept and something that takes even longer to become comfortable with.
Nrama: Can you describe what he's doing? Is this arm related to the Green Lantern ring Matt had?
Jurgens: One of the things we’d seen was Brother Eye turning the Justice League into cyborg warriors that were under his command.
When one of them, the Jon Stewart Green Lantern cyborg, was defeated, he was blown apart. Matt took the hand with the ring on it and realized there was a mystery that needed to be solved. How did this happen? Why was the League so easily defeated?
He went to Metropolis for those answers because, as we’ve seen in the show, that’s where the Justice League's Watchtower was located.
Nrama: The solicitations for upcoming issues mention the Splicers. Is that accurate? What can you tell us about why you wanted to use them in the comic and what their debut is like?
Jurgens: Splicers?! Hmm… that would be pretty cool. And it would also dovetail quite nicely with some of things we set up very early in the book. It very quickly takes us down the classic DC “Great Disaster” future.
Nrama: March's Batman Beyond #10 promises the debut of a Justice League Beyond. How different is this team than ones we've seen in other incarnations of Batman Beyond? Or is it the same?
Jurgens: That’s kind of a “stay tuned” development. I think we have a major surprise or two built into it that will tie quite nicely into the current DCU.
Nrama: What's it been like working with Bernard Chang on the book?
Jurgens: I really feel Bernard is doing the best work of his career on this book. His style fits perfectly with core concept of what Batman Beyond is. More than that, his sense of design helps to give the book a nice feel that’s unique to us. It feels like the future, be it in the gleaming metal look of Gotham’s untouched places or in the decrepit sections of Metropolis.
Nrama: We've seen Tim's friendship with Barbara develop. Who else is going to play an important role in the book coming up?
Jurgens: We’re really going to be building on the Matt/Tim relationship as we move forward. At the same time, developments in Gotham remain very important. The city has a lot to wrestle with as the world finds out about its survival and that all falls in Barbara’s lap.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about Batman Beyond?
Jurgens: One of the things we’ve tried to do is build on big surprises and revelations and I think we have more of that coming. It’s a core concept of the book because, in the future, anything should be possible. So many concepts have become so familiar, that it’s fun to have a sandbox where the possibilities are wide open, especially as they harken back to the DCU of the present.