Without question, Rebirth has been a resounding success. With a mission focused on optimism and legacy, DC is publishing some of its best books in years, thanks in no small part to some talented creative teams. One of those creative voices is Dan Jurgens, a true comics legend.
Having been involved in one of the biggest comics events of all time with “The Death of Superman” (he wrote the climactic Superman #75, after all), he’s certainly earned that title, and his impressive body of work over his four decade career confirms it. Jurgens is still going strong today, helming the excellent Action Comics and spearheading the world of the future in Batman Beyond. Josh, Brian and I compiled some questions that Mr. Jurgens was more than gracious to answer, so enjoy as he discusses the direction of Batman, Superman, and the overall Rebirth initiative.
Batman-News: Rebirth has been a massive hit so far. When you were writing Superman: Lois and Clark, did you know it was coming or did you have to make adjustments to the story you were telling?
Dan Jurgens: I knew what was coming relative to Superman.
We did everything we could to present Superman, Lois and Jon in the best way possible and set them up for everything to come. The only adjustments that we had to make was in terms of timing as we didn’t have all of that nailed down when we started.
BN: Aside from the Rebirth one-shot, you were the first writer to use Mr. Oz. Will we be seeing him again in the near future?
DJ: Let’s put it this way:
There are lots of story elements left to play out with Mr. Oz.
Fun, dramatic, crucial story elements!
BN: Was there coordination between you and the ‘Tec team in how Oz was going to be used?
DJ: Not so much directly as through discussions with the overall office in terms of general goals to hit.
But it certainly fit in well with the idea of getting Terry McGinnis back as Batman.
BN: Was it a deliberate choice to have Mr. Oz and the larger Rebirth mystery appear mainly in the “classic” books Action Comics and Detective Comics? Given the renumbering of those two titles and the mission statement to return to “optimism and legacy,” it sure feels like there’s something there.
DJ: I really can’t answer for Detective Comics, but in terms of Action Comics, it had a lot more to do with the particular story we were telling. Mr. Oz really fit in with what we’re doing with Superman and where we’re heading.
Safe to say we have a particular direction with all of this and readers have some real treats coming.
BN: Are there any plans for Action Comics crossing over with any of the Bat titles?
DJ: Not at present. The closest we got was when an grown Jon showed up in Batman Beyond several months ago.
BN: What was it like returning to a character you had made such an indelible mark on in the past?
DJ: I’ve always seen it as an honor to write Superman. He is one of, if not the most special character in comics. I feel there is a tremendous range of stories possible with Superman and really enjoy writing him.
The idea is to continue to find new ways to do it and new things to say as part of the stories.
So far, that has not been a problem.
BN: How were you approached to write Batman Beyond?
DJ: It grew out of my work on the Futures End weekly. We did a lot with Terry McGinnis there and wanted to grow that, hence the switch to Tim Drake. Plus, I’ve always had an affinity for Tim. Most of the other Robins sort of fell into the role due to unexpected circumstances, while Tim actually chased it down by figuring out Batman’s identity. There’s a certain amount of cool that goes along with that.
BN: One of the best comparisons I’ve read in regard to Batman Beyond is that it has a similar spirit to Kamandi: it’s in a future that kind of exists by itself, allowing for an “anything goes” approach, and the surprise appearance of Tuftan with the Splicers certainly reinforces that feeling. Is that the approach you’re still taking, or is this timeline going to move back in line with the main continuity to be a possible future?
DJ: The only way for me to write it is to consider it as the future, rather than a possible future. It makes it seem more real and tied into the DCU as a whole.
BN: Was bringing Terry back always part of the plan?
DJ: Back when we first started, we had the methodology of bringing Terry back in our playbook. We didn’t know exactly when, but it’s something that was there from the start.
BN: How about Tim’s fate? Was that in response to what happened in Detective Comics #940 or are there other factors to future Tim’s disappearance?
DJ: That’s one of those “stay tuned” types of plans as, once again, there is plenty of story left to be told.
BN: When did you find out about Tynion’s plan for Tim?
DJ: I think his plans developed around the same time we’d already decided to switch to Terry. That freed Tim to be used elsewhere.
BN: Beyond has an interesting dynamic with Terry being “out of the game” for so long. I can see a lot of great storytelling potential coming out of him having to relearn how to be Batman.
DJ: When you get down to it, that’s the crux of our first storyline. The world is different for Terry and there are other changes as well. Plus, as you said, Terry is rusty.
BN: Right now the book’s focus is on the Joker and his legacy. Are there any other familiar characters that you want to bring in?
DJ: Any story with other characters will unfold over time.
For now, however, I really want to focus on the Joker. The idea of a dead villain inspiring thousands of followers decades later is fascinating to me. There’s a LOT to explore.
BN: How about any original villains?
DJ: For now, I want to focus on the villains of Batman Beyond. It’s a rich and very deep roster that fans seem to enjoy so I plan to use that.
BN: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer our questions. We’re looking forward to all the great things you’ll bring to Batman, Superman, and the rest of the DC Universe.
DJ: My pleasure!