I guess you can go home again. Just a couple of months after Dan Jurgens’ name disappeared from the monthly credits of Booster Gold, a series based on a character he created, he’s picked up numerous plot threads from that title–as well as some of the characters he’s worked with extensively during his run on Superman and in the mega-crossover Zero Hour, which he wrote and drew–in Time Masters: Vanishing Point. A part of the ongoing “Return of Bruce Wayne” story, this miniseries by Jurgens and former Booster Gold inker Norm Rapmund will explore not only the search for Batman, but the role of time travel in the DC Universe now and going forward. Besides Booster Gold, Green Lantern, Superman and Rip Hunter, the story features Supernova and Goldstar (Booster’s superheroic family members) and Rip Hunter’s sometime-allies the Linear Men, among others. So, while Booster’s monthly has been taken over by the Justice League: Generation Lost story and is tying only marginally into the ongoing narrative of Booster and Rip, that story is being continued–by the same creative team who’s been doing it for a few years now.
We sat down with Dan Jurgens to talk about the first issue, and he took time out of his San Diego recovery–and from browsing the recently-launched DanJurgens.com–to answer us.
The Gold Exchange: You’ve said that Time Masters: Vanishing Point will not only tie into The Return of Bruce Wayne and “Flashpoint”, but also clarify how time travel works in the DCU these days. Will we get a clarification (or have we already have one and I missed it) on the two different interpretations of Rip Hunter that we’ve seen at Vanishing Point in the last few years?
Dan Jurgens: Simply put, I think it’s a part of the change over time, in terms of how I see the character and where I want him to go. Some of this may seem a bit more natural by the end of the series. But I’d also say the more “public” Rip, as seen by Superman and GL, is closer to what may have appeared several years ago. The Rip seen in BG is generally with Booster, which means there is more familiarity and they’re going to have a more relaxed relationship.
In terms of time travel, I don’t know that it’s quite right to say that we’re going to clarify how time travel works. What we will do is reset the table a bit so everyone gets a bit of a better feel for who the main players are, why they do what they do, etc.
GX: Do you have a story reason in mind why Skeets would look more like his original self Booster’s future/Rip’s past?
DJ: Skeets is subject to regular adjustments, both from the standpoint of hardware and software. You’ll see a bit more on that in #3. But the basic idea is that Skeets is often in “upgrade” mode.
GX: Kevin Allen, a regular reader who friended me on Facebook a while back, actually wrote in to ask if there’s a bit of a callback going on here with Rip’s T-Rex experience paralleling the one that we’ve seen numerous times with Rip and Brainiac 5 in previews.
DJ: Hmm. Could be. Just a bit. Once again, it’s possible you’ll see a bit more along those lines.
I really am trying to build the idea that from an very early age on, Time Travel to Rip Hunter was the same as a spring break trip to people now. Rip knows a multitude of people throughout time.
GX: It’s interesting—the time-travel crisis of conscience involved with wanting to help the sick people who died 500 years ago is something that your characters often struggle with—not only has Booster been coping with it (in Coast City, among other places) but Supes himself has already struggled with this when he first encountered Vanishing Point in “Time and Time Again”. Is that something you think people who spend their days trying to save lives can ever truly come to terms with?
DJ: I think about it in terms of characters like Superman. When Superman sees human suffering, it’s totally within his nature to ease it. Yet, with something like time travel, the equation changes greatly because it would change known history. While Superman can accept that intellectual argument, it’s very, very hard to accept it on an emotional issue and walk away from it.
GX: Who is it on the other end of Daniel Jon Carter’s radio when he goes to see the destroyed Vanishing Point? Rip? Michelle? A surprise?
DJ: Of course, it’s a surprise! If I wanted that person known at this point, they would have been on panel!
GX: Where in the Batman story does this issue fall? Obviously before this issue ever hit we saw the Archivist go bad.
DJ: It’s time travel! Not to be evasive, but it can fit into wrinkles of moments in the Batman story.
GX: Speaking of that character, the gangly, fuzzy, weird-looking sucker has pretty much got “Grant Morrison” written all over him. But Morrison dropped it in the middle of his story and had Rip going to him for help—is it frustrating trying to clear up the way time travel works in the DCU while simultaneously having new characters introduced mid-story that are supposed to be key to the way time travel works?
DJ: A bit, though not so much that it’s a problem to deal with.
GX: Will we be seeing more of the New Gods in this story? Rip’s wondering what they’re up to kinda has me wondering, too.
DJ: Perhaps. The real key is that Rip is wondering at all. He has instant answers at his fingertips for the most part. Yet the motivations and actions of the gods are a puzzle to him, which helps define what’s happening and where things are going.
GX: Will we see the rest of the Time Stealers in this story, and/or will these guys be rebuilding their team as the plot moves along? Obviously with Rip, Waverider and the Linear Men not always being on the same side together, there’s the chance of the Time Stealers ending up teamed with some of those characters as the story starts to unfold…!
DJ: Yes, yes and yes!
GX: So according to Keith and J.M., Michelle has grown up into her own person, and doesn’t “need” to be Goldstar anymore. Has our Michelle had a particular revelation to put her back in the costume, or is this another example of a story that falls into the Giffenverse, in terms of their Booster Gold being only marginally in-continuity?
DJ: I don’t think we’re that much apart at all. Michelle was alone at the time lab when the time stealers showed up. Seems a natural to me for her to put on the costume as a measure of defense. That’s still a long way from putting it on to go fight alongside the JLA.
GX: Certainly Daniel and Michelle are looking more confident and heroic than they have been in the recent past; will we get to see what happened to prepare them for this story?
DJ: As I said, I think Michelle is consistent with where she’s been recently. Daniel is a bit of a different matter, and that will be dealt with.
GX: Certainly with Claw coming up next, this series looks to have a lot of the same thing going on as your (and Geoff’s) Booster monthly did: stomping through the history of the DC Universe, encountering all manner of unlikely characters along the way. Is it difficult to keep things focused on the story’s endgame while taking a tour through (pre)history?
DJ: Not as much as you might think. For those who’ve seen Claw before, either in his original appearances or more recently in Wonder Woman, it might be fun to see him again. For readers who have no idea who he is, they might still appreciate the barbarian aspect of the story. The trick is to tell an entertaining story while making sure to tie everything up by the end.
Note: It was announced Sunday at Comic Con that Booster Gold and Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes will be appearing in Smallville during the upcoming season, in an episode written by former Booster Gold writer Geoff Johns. This will require a conversation all its own, once the episode gets closer and I’ve had a chance to talk to Johns. Dan wasn’t available to stay for the Smallville panel this weekend, but told me he was excited to see the first-ever live action interpretation of the character.