Although the highly anticipated Joker storyline just concluded in Batman Beyond, series writer Dan Jurgens says there are more shocking developments coming. In fact, this week’s Batman Beyond #31 sets up some beats that lead into what the writer calls “a major shake-up for the book - one that will definitely surprise people.”
Working with artist Rick Leonardi, Jurgens has been guiding Batman Beyond in a way that honors the legacy of the popular late-’90s Batman Beyond animated series, but fleshes out its world in new ways for the comic book universe.
In the series’ just-completed storyline “The Final Joke,” readers found out the Joker was still alive, just in time to terrorize Terry’s brand new Robin, his brother Matt.
And although that storyline ended with a surprise of its own (as an elderly Harley Quinn made a mysterious cameo), Jurgens promises the next storyline not only introduces a new villain, but sets up some unexpected twists of its own.
With this week’s Batman Beyond #31 introducing the new villain Splitt, Newsarama talked with Jurgens to find out more about what’s coming up in the series.
Newsarama: Dan, before we get into the story that kicks off this week, let’s review the events of the last issue a little bit, because there were some pretty big developments. Did you always plan for the just-finished Joker arc to end with Matt hanging up the Robin suit? Why did that make sense now?
Dan Jurgens: Yes, that was the plan from the start, especially since the Joker was the perfect vehicle to get us to that conclusion.
As for why, well, let’s be honest. The idea of a 12-year-old kid flying around to fight bad guys is ripe for the idea of getting into the question of what it does to them psychologically. I thought this might be an appropriate place for a character to give it a try and find out it isn’t right for him.
That might not be the case when he’s older, but it’s certainly the case at present.
Also, the fact that Dick Grayson is the one to have interceded on his behalf seemed quite legitimate to me.
Nrama: OK, so the end of the last story arc showed that the Joker was dead. But … you had quite the tease at the end of the last issue, as it appears that an elderly Harley Quinn has stolen the body of her “puddin’.” Are those seeds for a story you have in mind? Or just letting it hang there a bit?
Jurgens: It’s out there, right? Given the technology of the future, who knows where that might take us?
Nrama: How does the end of “The Final Joke” set up and lead into the next storyline, “Lost Daze"?
Jurgens: Moving from a couple of stories with “Batman and Robin” back to a focus on Bruce and Terry is something we had planned as well. The concentration on Terry McGinnis and his growth in the role of Batman is very much the core of the book.
The question of how that affects him and the characters around him will be the character spine of the next two stories - and I think we have some pretty big surprises ahead.
Nrama: So does Matt play a role in this story at all? Will we see more of his reaction to the change, or do Bruce and Terry step forward for a while?
Jurgens: Matt is still a part of the book and a strong member of the cast, but it’s in the more natural role of a 12-year-old kid. He certainly isn’t going away, but he’s not about to put on the costume at this point.
We’re focusing on Bruce and Terry at this point.
Nrama: Let’s talk about the villain. What can you tell us about the threat that the Splitt represents in this storyline?
Jurgens: We’ve always tried to feature a blend of villains that are part of the Beyond history as well as classic villains from Batman’s past.
This is a bit different as we bring someone new into the storyline, which, again, will have longer term impacts going forward.
Nrama: It sounds like something’s wrong with Bruce Wayne in this story, though. I suspect that the “Lost Daze” applies to him, and that Terry’s feeling kind of abandoned?
Jurgens: Exactly. Bruce has definitely experienced some kind of character change and that will have ramifications for everyone.
Nrama: How’s it been working with Rick Leonardi on this storyline? What does he bring to the book?
Jurgens: Rick brings the futuristic world of Beyond to life in a wonderful way. That and the way he approaches the characters help to evoke the aura of what was established in the show.
Inker Ande Parks and colorist Chris Sotomayor really complement the effort and help to give the book a strong visual identity. Mix their talents along with the instincts of editor Rob Levin and the result is a strong creative group.
Nrama: What comes next for Batman Beyond after “Lost Daze”?
Jurgens: This story takes us on a very direct and focused story that sets up our next storyline, which is going to represent a major shakeup for the book - one that will definitely surprise people.
Nrama: Hmm…interesting hint. Is there anything else you can reveal about that? Or maybe anything else you want to tell fans about Batman Beyond in general?
Jurgens: We’re loaded for the future as we have some really cool changes that are coming - things that will continue to enrich the world of Batman Beyond. We want to continue to explore this universe and bring its uniqueness to the page!