On the final page of yesterday's “Booster Gold” #31, writer-artist team Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund concluded their three-year-run on the title by teasing Rip Hunter's involvement with the upcoming “Return of Bruce Wayne” story. Given Rip's status as the DC Universe's most prominent time-traveler, it was maybe a little obvious that he would play a role in a story that saw one of the company's most popular superheroes lost in the timestream. What surprised a lot of fans, though, was the issue's instruction that readers could pick up on the continuing adventures of Rip Hunter not only in “The Return of Bruce Wayne” #1, but in Time Masters #1 as well.
DC followed up with an announcement Thursday morning, indicating that Rip, will be joined by Booster Gold, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Superman, Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund for Time Masters: Vanishing Point #1, due in July. “Let's just say it's an accurate reflection of who's out looking for Bruce Wayne,” the creator told Newsarama. “Obviously I think what you've seen already in 'Batman & Robin' and in 'Booster Gold' is the awareness that Bruce Wayne could very well have been lost in time or thrown back into the timestream. When you then carry it to the next extension of putting together a group of people who are actually going to go back into the timestream looking for him, I think that's where you get characters like Superman, Green Lantern and Booster Gold who are more suited to it [than Batman and Robin].”
Jurgens, the creator of both Booster Gold and Vanishing Point, has experienced a surge in popularity since taking over art on the title during Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz's run as writers. Many fans wondered what would be his next task when it was announced that Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis were taking over writing Booster's adventures every month. Now, it seems that Jurgens' cup runneth over with new work. Besides taking over some of the art chores on “DCU: Legacies”, the veteran artist ran down his upcoming workload: “I'll be writing and drawing the 'Time Masters' mini, writing and drawing a story for Superman'#700 and writing the Sony/DCU book with Tony Bedard. So that's actually quite a lot.”
For a guy who had no confirmed projects two months ago, it certainly is. Newsarama caught Jurgens between pages to talk about Time Masters: Vanishing Point, the return of Bruce Wayne and how Booster Gold can keep his cover as the DC Universe's class clown while still being an effective Time Master.
“I don't think it does [compromise Booster's cover] but let's also remember that Bruce certainly knows what Booster is all about,” Jurgens explained. I think as Green Lantern and Superman go to Rip and as far as they're concerned Booster is more along for the ride than necessarily leading the mission … and I think what we'll see is a lot of conversations between Booster and Rip that don't necessarily take place in front of the others.”
It's that very awareness by Batman that led many fans to speculate about the possibility of a story like this happening. During an interview with Jurgens in 2009, this reporter asked whether Booster would play a role in Bruce's return, given the closeness the pair had started to express immediately prior to Batman's “death” and given that Bruce was trapped in time—Booster's domain. At the time, Jurgens was noncommittal, suggesting only that it would make sense for Booster to follow up.
This time around, it's Jurgens who reminded us how elementary it all is. “If you have Superman go to Gotham City for one reason or another, logically it follows that he's going to run into Batman. When you run into the concept of a major DCU character lost in the timestream, who becomes a natural to go to? It's Booster and Rip Hunter.”
Asked whether that's been the plan all along, or whether it developed as “The Return of Bruce Wayne” developed, Jurgens said that it was a case of serendipity.
“I don't think that it would be accurate to say it was always planned like this but I don't think it's a retro-makeover either. What happens sometimes is that you have a general plan where you say, 'He disappears, someday people will go out looking for him,' and as you get closer to publication you start to shape up and put everything in a more firm arrangement. I don't think this is necessarily an alteration or a reaction to what was there.”
Jurgens also pointed out that his apparent obliviousness to such a major and potentially reality-altering event in DC history has the potential to shake the character of Rip Hunter to his foundation: “Obviously when Bruce was dead, we explored the question briefly in our book of 'Why didn't we just stop it?' With his being alive, what can resonate in our series—did Rip know he was lost in time or did he think Bruce was dead too? That's an important question when it comes to defining what a Time Master is, and what is his function.”
It's with that question in mind that the veteran creator says this story is about more than just bringing Bruce Wayne back into the DCU fold. “Our mandate is kind of threefold,” Jurgens told Newsarama. “First of all we have these characters who are looking for Bruce Wayne, and that's going to lead into setting up some stories that are going to affect the DC Universe in 2011. But the third part was even hinted at a little bit by DC in what they've already announced. The title is Time Masters: Vanishing Point, right? I created Vanishing Point years ago in an issue of 'Superman' and lot of characters have moved in and out of there. Part of what you're going to see is that we will reset the table a little bit in how we deal with time travel characters in the DCU.”
There have been hints on Rip Hunter's blackboard ever since the beginning of the “Booster Gold” series that Vanishing Point and his former allies the Linear Men may yet have a major role to play in the DC Universe going forward; when pressed whether threads from “Booster Gold” would be played out in this series or whether it would be more strictly defined by the “event” nature of Bruce Wayne's return, Jurgens assured, “You're going to see further development in the relationship between Booster and Rip. People who have been reading 'Booster Gold' will know that I've been going down a fairly specific road, and we've been seeing it mostly from Booster's perspective. This is a chance to flip that a little bit so we see this through Rip's eyes a little bit more and understand how he sees Booster.”
That said, he also promises that the role of other time-travel characters in the series will provide the series with many of its twists and turns. As for the, ahem, future of Booster Gold and Rip Hunter?
“Certainly as we start to deal with some setup stuff for next year and what's happening in the DCU,” Jurgens said, “there's going to be a lot of room for Booster and Rip to be players.”