In the last few issues of Batman Beyond, readers have gotten a slew of surprises - the disappearance of Tim Drake, the return of both Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne, and Dana discovering Terry's secret identity.
But at the end of Batman Beyond #5, readers found out that one of the small, side characters in the storyline was actually the Joker.
And according to Batman Beyond writer Dan Jurgens, there are plenty more surprises coming, as the book begins a new storyline in March 22's Batman Beyond #6 that features the villain Ra's Al Ghul. Newsarama talked to Jurgens to find out more about his plans for the Joker in the future, how recent developments will change the book, and how else "Rebirth" might tie into Batman Beyond.
Newsarama: Wow, Dan, you certainly sprung a surprise on readers at the end of last week's issue. Was the return of Joker a "resurrection" you've been planning for awhile?
Dan Jurgens: Bringing the Joker back was definitely one of the things I had in mind for a while.
One of the things that made Rebirth work for Batman Beyond was the idea of returning Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne to their proper places. However, I wanted to build another surprise into the Bruce Wayne story and that was bringing back the Joker as well.
Given the characters, it seems fitting. Especially since the Jokerz, a group of Jokeresque acolytes, have always been a part of the story. What better way to give them importance than by giving them their idol back?
Nrama: Will we find out where the Joker has been all this time?
Jurgens: Eventually, perhaps. I think the Joker is a somewhat better character when he’s shrouded in mystery and we don’t know every aspect of his life.
Nrama: The end of the issue said "The beginning..."; is the next "chapter" of Joker's story in the future already planned by you?
Jurgens: There are a couple of things I have in mind, but our next story takes us in a different direction. There are many facets of Terry, Bruce, and their future world that I want to explore.
Nrama: Now that Bruce is back, how does that change the dynamic of the book?
Jurgens: Terry was very isolated when he came back to put on the Batman suit. Bringing Bruce back allows us to not only continue to concentrate on Terry, but to explore a different aspect of his personality through his relationship with Bruce.
Terry McGinnis is most certainly not Bruce Wayne, yet both have been identified as Batman. So the question becomes, how well can Terry do the job when he’s not as driven as Bruce?
And as part of that, how does Bruce treat him?
Nrama: Will Max and Matt even be part of Terry's team anymore?
Jurgens: Max and Matt will absolutely be part of the team going forward. That’s actually one of the things that Bruce has to adjust to, and it isn’t necessarily easy for him.
Nrama: Terry had a new, prototype costume. Will he stick with that one (and is that his look going forward)? Anything else you can tell us about the costume?
Jurgens: The new costume becomes a bigger part of the story moving forward. There are reasons that Bruce had developed it and put it aside.
Nrama: Those aren't the only big changes in the book -Dana is aware of his life as Batman. How does that affect the story that's coming up?
Jurgens: Terry’s relationship with Dana touches on one of the things I talked about earlier, which is the way that his life is different than Bruce Wayne’s. I don’t see Terry being as driven as Bruce, and that makes him a substantially different Batman.
Again - the whole idea is to explore these characters through the ways they interact with each other.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the next big story, that teases Ra's Al Ghul?
Jurgens: The world 40-some years from now is a very different kind of place - one that offers tremendous opportunity for Ra’s.
And I think we all know that when Ra’s has an opening, he’s the kind of guy who seizes on it.
Nrama: Where does the story take place? And what kind of action will we see?
Jurgens: I always like Ra’s when we find him in the area of Tibet. That’ll be fun because I’d like to play with an environment a little different than Gotham.
Nrama: What characters will we see involved in the storyline?
Jurgens: Terry and Bruce will be front and center on this one, as well as Curaré, who was introduced on the TV show.
Nrama: You confirmed that the manipulation/kidnapping of Tim in the present DCU was tied to Tim's disappearance from the future. Can we expect any other ramifications of Rebirth (or present day events) in Batman Beyond?
Jurgens: Tim has his own very particular story coming up. In the meantime, Terry is really going to be the main focus on this book.
Nrama: What has it been like working with your art team on this book? What kind of things are you guys trying to bring to the book, particularly in the next storyline?
Jurgens: Bernard Chang has done such a wonderful job of building a very defined world of the future for Batman Beyond that I really can’t imagine anyone else doing the book! His Gotham City is appropriately futuristic and his version of Batman is just a fabulous extension of what was first created in show. There’s a very nice linear connection between what they did and what we’re doing. And Marcelo Maiolo has enhanced that with his color.
I’m very happy with it. They’ve made Batman Beyond one of the most unique looking books DC is producing.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Batman Beyond?
Jurgens: One of things we’ve always tried to do is surprise readers. Given the fact that we take place in the future where we can really employ some freewheeling ideas, I’d like to think we have some pretty big surprises yet to come!