Future’s End is the latest DC Comics crossover, in which Terry McGinnis, star of Batman Beyond, hurls himself back in time to prevent an apocalyptic scenario from playing out. If that sounds like everything from Terminator to Days of Future Past to 11/22/63, there’s a catch: the Batman of the future screws up and falls short of his goal. By the end of the first chapter, he’s stuck five years into the future from current DC Universe continuity, with the world already substantially transformed by the technology that will eventually doom mankind (as well as reeling from a different crossover, but we digress).
Man Cave talked to Dan Jurgens & Brian Azzarello, two of the weekly megaseries’ four writers about how to destroy the world by committee.
Man Cave Daily: One big theme is what it means to be a hero, and another big theme is how technology is so rapidly accelerating and changing our lives. Did that have any bearing on choosing the characters you focus on? They’re all a dialectic between human and cutting edge technology.
Brian Azzarello: We might have focused on three characters in the beginning. That’s…grown. [laughs]
Dan Jurgens: Yeah. It has, but that’s absolutely a part of it. If Mr. Terrific is the smartest man on the planet, what’s the tech background there? Nevermind Batman Beyond and what that suit is made of…and how it relates to some of our other characters.
MCD: On the reverse of that, those Brother Eye fusions that Ryan Sook designed are so ghastly. Was there a mandate or was it just “Make horrifying cyborgs”?
BA: That was the mandate.
DJ: In a way, but we were sitting there in one of our various conferences, talking about story ideas, and Ryan was there. Through a lot of our meetings Ryan was sketching. At one point I’m looking over and he did this sketch of Wonder Woman, and he held it up and he said, “Is this the kind of stuff you were talking about?” And we all went, “YES! That’s IT!” We’d started talking about the idea and all of a sudden Ryan made it a visual reality. It was fantastic.
MCD: If Brother Eye is carving up superheroes and using their body parts, are we going to see more than one, say, Hawkman, and the rest of Wonder Woman?
DJ: You might see PIECES of Hawkman…it is [creepy], yes.
MCD: Obviously things are high-stakes, and we see in the preview that Batman’s talking about going back in time to kill somebody preemptively. Can you talk about what would make him reverse his stance on killing like that?
BA: The way he sees the world. It would change. I don’t think he’d have trouble killing somebody that causes what you see in the #0 issue set 35 years from now.
DJ: Thirty-five years from now, yeah.
MCD: So Terry is traveling to the DC Universe five years in the future to prevent what happens in 35 years?
DJ: When he leaves is chaos and everything is a total mess around him. Because of that, he ends up five years short, in the DCU five years from now. What’s reasonable to assume is he wanted to get back to a particular point he didn’t make it to…then what do you do? And he has no ability to travel beyond that point.
MCD: Dan, this one’s for you, since you’re writing and drawing the book. Was there a difference when you’re drawing someone else’s script versus your own pages?
DJ: Yeah, actually. Especially when I haven’t worked with Brian before. I haven’t worked with Jeff before. In terms of them writing something that I draw, and typically, you write to be able to work up to something a little bit–
BA: You haven’t had a chance to do that. [laughs]
DJ: No! –to have that time where you can draw two pages and turn it in and say “What do you think?” We’re on the train and that train is going fast.
MCD: When you’re working with three other writers, how does it change your process?
BA: I can’t be as singular as I usually am. I don’t have to trust other people when I’m working by myself, other than the artist. And now, this is a deeper collaboration so there are three other people I have to trust. And I do.
DJ: We’re a band.
BA: We are. I’m as good as the other three guys and they can say the same thing. That’s just the nature of this. When that book comes out, we all sink or swim on that book.
MCD: You probably had to plot a lot tighter than you might if you were the sole custodian of the story. But when you were scripting from that plot, did it lead to more spontaneity in how to make it fit and hit those weekly deadlines?
DJ: Boy, I don’t know, those first couple of issues, we went through so many different plots. Issue #0 we wrote and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote. And issue #1 is the same thing. By the time you get to actually writing the script from that plotline, it just pours out of you because you’ve done it so many times. At least it worked that way for me where I just know what everybody’s going to say, and boom, it’s there on the page.
Brendan grew up a shy nerd reading comics, but now he’s courting actresses to be your special lady in Girlfriend Audition: Jessica Kinni.