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Nerdlocker Artist Interview: Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang

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I can remember the first time I watched Batman Beyond as a kid. I was such a huge fan of the original Batman: The Animated Series, and this was maybe the first time I saw an original take on The Dark Knight that wasn’t anything I was use to. Well fans everywhere latched on to the series, and as a character Terry McGinnis quickly became a fan favorite. We’ve seen a few Batman Beyond comic book series in the past, but with Futures End we finally see Terry exist in the real DCU… that is until he’s killed off, and former Robin, err, Red Robin, takes up the mantle of the Bat. A very interesting move to do to a character people have been waiting to see finally integrated into regular continuity. I had the pleasure of sitting down the team of this new Batman Beyond series, Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang.

Nerdlocker (NL): So Terry McGinnis is finally brought in to the DC Universe, and immediately killed and replaced by Tim Drake. What brought on this decision?

Dan Jurgens (DJ): Well I think there are a couple of different things that go in to answering that question. The first part was we go back to Futures End. Yes, we introduce Terry to the DCU and what we wanted to do with Futures End was introduce Batman Beyond and to tell a good compelling story. And I think we did that through Terry and everything that happened to him, and continuing on with Tim. Where Tim functions very well as Batman Beyond, we are trying to take the present of the DCU and build a definitive timeline. So using someone from the DC present to do that gives us context in to DC’s present, in to its past, even as we build that future. It kind of pulls it all together.

NL: You’ve taken these familiar characters, and even though it’s a familiar Gotham, its set up different from the one we’re use to in Batman Beyond. What was it like designing this new world, but still keeping it recognizable?

Bernard Chang (BC): Being that it takes place 35 years in the future, a lot can change, but at the same time a lot has to remain similar. So I think being able to play with a lot of the apocalyptic aspects mirroring the NeoGotham setting is a lot of fun because we get to explore the changes like the world sort of stopping with technological advances when Brother Eye decimates the planet. For me it’s a lot about exploration, and you can pick and choose from what we know now, and being able to add and enhance and play with these things. It’s been a lot of fun.

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NL: Speaking of Brother Eye, on the cover we see Kamandi, we see OMAC, but on the other side we see characters that are classics to the Batman Beyond stories. In the book it’s mentioned that the Justice League is dead. Is the cover more of a metaphor, or are these all characters people that we are going to see at some point?

DJ: All of the storylines in the future are going to unfold. And I think we have a lot of surprises there. But I will say that the first cover does represent very well what we’re doing. We’re taking the future DC timeline that we knew where we had characters like Kamandi and OMAC and all of that stuff and combining it with Batman Beyond animated future to build this new future. So yeah, we show both worlds that we’re fusing together. You’ll see plenty of surprises of what we have visualized with this book.

NL: Another thing I picked up on reading issue one, is Matt (Terry’s little brother) saying that how if he was there when Terry died, he’d be the one to receive the costume and that he should be the next Batman. Are we going to see a Batman/Robin situation that has never really happened with Batman Beyond before, or are we going to get a lot of animosity from Matt?

DJ: The relationship between Matt and Tim is going to be an ongoing aspect of the book. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to make sure that we made Matt a little bit older than we’ve seen in the show. I wanted to get him to the point where if he’s 13-14 years old, a lot of kids at that age tend to feel a little isolated and alienated. We get to see the world through Tim’s eyes. We get to see Tim through Matt’s eyes and I think that builds a really nice relationship and that’s going to be a really big part of the book going forward.

BC: Dan has a lot of really good moments in the script that actually in terms of the emotional context that Matt goes through when we has to deal with his brother’s death, and watch Tim wear the Batman costume. I think the metaphor that we’ve been using is that it’s like your older brother had a car, and now you’re watching someone else driving that same car. There’s some entitlement that goes along with that. A type of legacy if you will.

DJ: Without giving too much away, we have an issue coming up where Matt says “well how do I know that everything went down the way with Terry that you said it did?” And that’s how we are as humans. If someone comes up to you and says “your brother/sister/friend died” and you don’t see it happen or see any aspect of it, you wonder “is that how it really happened?” And that’s also a big part of the series.

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NL: In the end of issue one, we see a very familiar character Max, and then we see Barbra Gordon, but definitely not the one we’re use to. Characters that we’ve seen before in the show or books, and characters from the New 52, are we going to see an equal share of both of those, or are there any characters you were excited to use or give some new designs to?

BC: Well the multiverse is back now right? So we’re definitely not trying to limit ourselves to just the New 52, because now there’s a lot of other possibilities of what we can use and play with. Batman Beyond is a great book, and not only does it show a future of the DCU but now we have an expanded past we can play with as well.

NL: Anything you’d like to tell readers to look out for, or anything they should expect with this series?

DJ: I think the thing I want to try and emphasizes is that we have 2 really great worlds (or universes, however you want to look at it) to draw from. This gets back to what Bernard says, this allows us a lot of flexibility to really build surprises in as well. We’re not just here to retell the Batman Beyond stories, and we’re not just here to retell future stories like Kamandi. We’re trying to fuse those concepts together and along the way build a lot of new concepts and a lot of new surprises, so that readers can have a lot of fun as we go forward.

BC: There’s a lot of really passionate fans of Batman Beyond and we want to pay our respects to the readers and viewers, but we’re also paving a path that explores a lot of other avenues that we might not have been able to explore before this new setting.

There you have it! Check out the all new Batman Beyond!

Special thank you to Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk with us.

Check out some sample panels:

Check out Brandon’s review of Batman Beyond #1:

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Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, I am a new generation of Nerd. I earned my nerdy education from years of watching television and film as well as reading countless comic books. I gained my masters degree in nerdiness by working at Maximum Comics and hosting for Nerdlocker.