Since the day Booster Gold #7 was released and I wrote my first story for Comic Related, “The Gold Exchange” has been there every month, within a week (or so) of the release of a new issue of Booster Gold, without skipping a beat. We’ve talked to creator/writer/artist Dan Jurgens almost every month (excepting once or twice when he was neither writing nor drawing the issue) and had Jeff Katz join the roundtable a bunch of times back when it first launched. I’m happy to say that this month, Geoff Johns has finally had a chance to take time out of his insane schedule to sit down with us and talk Booster Gold and Blackest Night, two of the things he knows best.
And it was an issue where a LOT happened. Black Lantern Ted Kord attacked…Daniel Carter? Well, I guess with Booster Gold missing (actually, he wasn’t missing so much as he was taking a few hours to himself to go back and relive the agony of Ted’s funeral), one dead Carter is just as good as the next? Anyway, we got some Supernova action, plenty of Daniel and Rose, and guest art by Blue Beetle penciller Mike Norton in the pages that featured Jaime Reyes (but no contribution from writer Matt Sturges this month, as Jaime was part of an oversized Booster story, rather than headlining his own tale). What did it all mean? And what’s in store for next month, in part two of the story Geoff Johns calls his favorite Booster Gold adventure?
Blog@Newsarama: So first of all, how did the Black Lantern Ted Kord issues come about? Did you see what was going on in BN and say, “This has to happen?” Or did DC or Geoff or someone come to you and suggest it?
Dan Jurgens: Months ago the basic question came up as to whether or not we’d like to tie in with Blackest Night and if so, who would we like to use as a Black Lantern? Ted Kord was the obvious choice. In fact, we were first concerned it might have been too obvious. But we quickly discounted it, realizing that there was a strong story waiting to be told.
After that, it was a matter of Booster Gold editor Mike Siglain, Blackest Night editor Eddie Berganza, Geoff and myself getting together and talking about what we wanted to do in terms of the particulars of the story. It was during these conversations that we realized no funeral for Ted had ever been done and that became a natural for us.
Blog@: Geoff, My understanding was that Blackest Night started smaller and bled gradually out over the DCU as editors and the like came to understand what a hit it was shaping up to be. That said, how soon after the story left Green Lantern’s back porch, did you know there would be a Booster/Ted meetup?
Geoff Johns: There was always going to be a Booster/Ted confrontation in Blackest Night, but when it expanded beyond our series – thankfully, since we couldn’t do it justice in the space we had compared to what Dan is doing it moved over to Booster Gold. It truly is my favorite issue of Booster Gold yet. Dan really did a phenomenal job on it.
Blog@: …And what do you say to fans who have been speculating that, between Katz’s long-ago convention comments and DiDio’s vague promises of big things to come after Blackest Night, Ted may be rejoining the Blue and Gold fold for a while by the time all is said and done?
DJ: I think there is always room for people to speculate. That’s part of the fun of comics! Which is my sneaky way of not giving you anything concrete. Sorry!
Blog@: Geoff? Anything?
GJ: You’ll have to keep reading.
Blog@: I’ve always felt like Booster’s resurgence really started with the outpouring of love that the fans felt for Ted right after you pulled the trigger on him years ago. As a writer, I know you’ve talked a lot about your love for Booster, but do you feel a little need to bring resolution to Ted, too?
GJ: Ted’s death obviously was the “trigger” that pushed Booster Gold into the limelight from Infinite Crisis to 52 and then his own monthly book. In all honesty, though I loved them both since I grew up reading the JLI, I was always a bigger fan of Blue Beetle than Booster Gold. There were debates about the end of Countdown to Infinite Crisis. At one point, we BRIEFLY even discussed the idea of Booster dying instead of Ted, but that was quickly abandoned because Ted had more resonance and, quite frankly, at that point Ted was a much more capable hero than Booster. At the same time, there were discussions about the scarab and it eventually led to Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle. Then as Infinite Crisis progressed, I got more into Booster Gold, and with 52, I started to get ideas for his series. Obviously, from the importance put on Ted in the 12 issues I was on, and the continued importance in Dan’s upcoming Blackest Night crossover issues, he’ll forever be a part of Booster’s life.
Blog@: What do you feel differentiates a story like Blackest Night from the old line of crossover events from the ‘90s? It seems to me that the tie-ins are much more organic these days, and I have to wonder if that’s the impact of guys like you and Morrison having a more hands-on approach with the other creators when crafting crossovers or if it’s an editorial change, or all in my head.
GJ: Well, Blackest Night did develop organically. Like I said above, after planning the story, Dan DiDio and I would talk about something like Booster and Ted and quickly realize that it needed more than a 3-page scene in Blackest Night. There were so many great confrontations ripe with potential that it became clear the story could get bigger, as long as it made sense. And with Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman working in conjunction with everyone else in editorial, it’s been a lot of late nights and early mornings, but it’s been incredibly rewarding to see it all come together. Working with Peter Tomasi, Greg Rucka, James Robinson, Gail Simone, Tony Bedard and everyone else, it feels organic because it is.
Blog@: Did you have to run the changes to the Beetle costume past an editor, or was that just kinda “come up with something cool that incorporates these design elements?” From the cover solicitations, it just looked like the black suit he was wearing in one of the Giffen/DeMatteis miniseries!
DJ: The Beetle/Black Lantern costume was designed before we actually started production, though I’m not sure who actually did it.
Blog@: What happened to the backup feature this issue? I mean, you have Mike Norton here, but Jaime just joins Booster and there’s no Sturges to be seen!
DJ: Nothing against Matt at all, but it is generally a more seamless story when done by one writer.
Blog@: With his new responsibilities re: the Justice Society of America, will Sturges be remaining on as the Blue Beetle guy?
DJ: Yes, I believe so.
Blog@: Okay, back to the issue at hand. Is it something that you’ve got in your head that now that he’s enormously successful and important and all that, Booster has to visit this horrible day once in a while to ground himself and keep himself from becoming the Booster of old?
DJ: There is some truth to that. Look, it’s important to realize that Booster wasn’t “born” due to the actions of others like Superman or Batman were. Booster Gold exists because of his own mistakes– the faults and failings of Michael Carter.
He hasn’t totally gotten past all that. Booster Gold is a guy who is still learning his profession, so to speak. He wants to do the right thing but often gets there by a more twisted path than most.
So, yeah. Revisiting those things ground him a bit and help keep his ego in check.
Blog@: I like that Rip is actually WRITING on the board as Skeets enters the room, but am at a loss to remember what’s new from last month. Are any of these clues going to pay off soon?
DJ: That depends on what the meaning of the word “soon” is. Are we talking soon? Or time traveler soon?
Blog@: So we finally get to see Rose and Daniel again–and immediately, his house is crushed. Again. Are his neighbors going to start getting suspicious that everytime Supernova appears, there’s a huge hole in the third house on the left?
DJ: Zombies are running wild all over earth! Who’s going to worry about the house down the block when there are weird happenings everywhere?
Blog@: Of course, in most zombie stories the way to kill them is to “cut off the head or destroy the brain,” as the newscaster says in Shaun of the Dead. Between Ted and Pantha, you’ve created ghouls who rise from the grave with their heads and brains already compromised. Combine that with Dr. Light and I have to wonder: Was there ever a guideline in your brain that said, “This much damage to the corpse is too much damage to come back from?” Or could we potentially see a character like Savitar, who has no body to speak of, resurrected? [Note I’m not asking if Savitar will be back, just using his death as a touchstone because I have an idea you’re familiar with the disposition of his body in that Flash: Rebirth thing someone wrote]
GJ: As long as there is anything left, even a single cell, a black ring can regrow the body. All it needs is the DNA. But Blackest Night is about to take another turn, and it’ll be more than just the threat of the Black Lanterns. Should be a lot of fun. I’m especially excited about what we’re doing in January. Stay tuned!
Blog@: Are we ever going to see a Daniel-and-Rose-centric issue/story? It seems like they’ve gotten very serious, very fast. Does SHE know that they’re destined to make Booster-babies?
DJ: I think Rose has picked up on some of that based on the conversations she’s been around. Still, even if someone told you your future, chances are you’d think that by knowing about it, you’d be able to change it or at least have some say in whether or not you get to see it come true.
Blog@: What kind of input did Geoff give you on this issue? I mean, clearly it ties pretty directly into the most recent issue of Blackest Night with Flash’s message and all…but other than that, was there a Blackest Night Bible or something circulated before the event so that you guys would know how to characterize the dead, was that Geoff or just your gut?
DJ: It was initially based on the conversations I detailed earlier and then Geoff and I trading notes and bouncing comments back and forth. After that Geoff and Eddie provided all the writers with more detail so we could really pull it together.
Blog@: Lots of people in this issue reminding Jaime that he’s NOT the Blue Beetle they want to see! Will Booster stand up for his dignity the way he feels he should have stood up for Ted’s at the funeral?
DJ: Hmm… good question! Stay tuned!
Blog@: Did the Black Lantern ring materialize the decayed bug and the light gun that shoots real projectiles? Or did have have them already? It’s been hard to gather exactly WHAT the Black Lantern rings allow the bearer to do so far in Blackest Night.
DJ: The Black Lantern rings are capable of creating the weapons of the “host”. In this case, a decayed bug and light gun.
Blog@: It seems like Booster has had a little bit of a backslide here–he’s dwelling on Ted, and rebelling a little (even if only in his mind) against Rip’s authority. Is this indicative of a direction you guys had in mind for him back before all the fill-in issues or am I just reading too much into the stability and contentedness that he showed during and immediately before “Day of Death?”
DJ: A little of both. I wouldn’t call it a step back as much as I’d point out that he is continually feeling a bit more used by Rip who he can’t quite figure out. Rip is always telling him what to do and what not to do while acting as an authority on time. If this is the case, wouldn’t Rip then know what happens to Booster tomorrow? Next week? Next year and beyond?
It’s safe to say that Booster is beginning to wonder just how much actual freedom he really has.
Blog@: That asked, would some of that discontent possibly have to do with the fact that when he failed to save Ted, Rip gave him Michelle as a kind of consolation prize and now, she’s just kinda…gone?
DJ: My take on this and I’ve tried to convey this in the stories, is that no matter how much Booster says he accepts Ted’s death and his inability to go back and save him, that it simply isn’t the case. Booster knows he is a time traveler. He’s been told he can’t save Ted. Yet Rip saved Michelle.
There’s an inherent conflict there. Booster can make an intellectual rationalization that it’s wrong to go back and save Ted, but accepting it emotionally is a different thing.
Booster isn’t the kind of guy who’s going to say all that. He’s not even the kind of guy to realize how conflicted he is. But conflicted he is and the conflicts of time travel, of what you can and can’t do, who you can and can’t save are only going to escalate.