After more than a month off, The Gold Exchange is back with a vengeance; yesterday we talked to Dan Jurgens about last month’s Time Masters: Vanishing Point #3, today we discuss the two part “Ted Kord—Chipmunk” story arc from Booster Gold #36-37 with J.M. DeMatteis…and then between Wednesday and Saturday of this week (depending on e-mail response times and the day job), Dan will be back to talk about the upcoming Time Masters #4. So it’s a golden week, even if the stupid Rangers are in the World Series and there’s no new episode of “Bones” on TV.
The only other observation I’ll make about this month’s Exchange is that since I did actually CONDUCT the interview with DeMatteis last month, and simply failed to post it, some questions may seem a little odd in the context of the new issue. I’m not going to edit them, for fear of losing content. It’s also worth noting that DeMatteis, who has said before he doesn’t really read superhero comics for recreation anymore, gets taken aback every so often as I explain some of the more horrible or preposterous stories of the last few years in DC. That’s worth a chuckle at least.
The Gold Exchange: OK, so I’ll give you that you were right: TED KORD – CHIPMUNK! made sense in context. That said, are you a little sorry that using the teaser probably blew the punchline a little bit when the reveal was made about 1/3 through the issue?
J.M. DeMatteis: Perhaps. But it was worth it just to have that teaser: TED KORD – CHIPMUNK! isn’t the kind of “next issue” blurb that comes up very often!
GX: You know, in fairness to Ted, I kinda feel like mating for life is something that you should discuss with the alien life force before sex, isn’t it?
JMD: I know that I always do: You’ve got to be extremely careful when you’re having sex with aliens.
GX: Yeah! They might just be looking for citizenship. Are these particular Darkstars guys that we’ve seen before, or are they just “Darkstar 1 and Darkstar 2″ in the script?
JMD: Keith just popped in random Darkstars and I gave them names and, I hope, a semblance of personality.
GX: Do you think the fact that Scott and Barda recognized Booster’s futurosity takes a little of the shine of his and Ted’s special moment last issue?
JMD: Not in the least.
GX: Is there a reason, story-wise, that the story wrapped around the issue of Generation Lost?
JMD: Yes. We were told to tie-in more directly to GL and we always do what we’re told. Except when we don’t.
GX: What issue was it? I don’t remember Skeets being captured…!
JMD: Uh…I just do what I’m told. (Except when I don’t.) Ask Keith. Ask Mike Carlin. Ask anyone else but me!
GX: Dude–those Darkstars are kinda pricks. I’m glad their peacekeeping force has been decimated and the remaining powersuits are now held by powerless Gotham superheroes and evil zombies!
JMD: Is that what happened? Evil zombies? Really?
GX: Yep. Thank Keith and the “52 Army” of DC’s favorite writers for that one. I think if I were Booster, I’d have been pretty annoyed fifteen years ago when Barda head-stomped me for no reason! I guess you come to expect that weird, unsolved moments of plot will fix themselves when you’re a time traveler.
JMD: Aren’t there those moments in life, though? (Well, maybe not as violent.) We have these weird interactions with people, we have no clue what it was about, and years later you run into that person, they explain…and you finally have some closure. “So THAT’S why you were acting that way!”
GX: Are we done seeing the Almost-But-Not-Quite Book of Destiny? After the fall of the Darkstars, anything (planet pounders, books of enchantments) that they’ve got impounded could end up anywhere…!
JMD: That’s true. There may be more to the Almost-But-Not-Quite Book of Destiny story yet.
GX: This is an interesting series–is it difficult to strike a balance of comedy and action when you have a pretty serious story, tying into a totally serious event like “Invasion!”, but then you introduce a character called Estrogina?
JMD: That’s the fun of what Keith and I do together. Just when you think things have reached the outer limits of absurdity, we bring things down to earth with some deadly serious drama. And if things get too serious, we puncture it with absurdity. It keeps things interesting for us and, I hope, for the readers, as well.
GX: Is the plan to have the regular art team take over covers anytime soon, or is it going to be “special guest artists” like Maguire and Jurgens for the foreseeable future?
JMD: You’d have to check with Mike Carlin about that. I certainly have no objections!
GX: How would this story have proceeded if Estrogina chewed her food?
JMD: The entire timeline would have been totally screwed up. And grossed out.
GX: Is Skeets’ “evolution” tied to the fact that upcoming solicitations have Booster “accepting” that he can’t bring Ted back? Trying to make sure you have the Abbott-and-Costello dynamic even without Beetle, maybe?
JMD: Not at all. It’s just the characters evolving on their own, as they tend to do. The dynamic between Booster and Skeets has been happening very naturally in the dialogue—and I’ve been enjoying it tremendously.
GX: The time-travel element in this story is handled in a different, fun way – the notion that even though he has no memory of it, Booster just assumes that he’s already done all this and that it came out OK, so he can travel forward, see Beetle and ask how to win the day. Still, he had to work his ass off when he was there so that it wouldn’t devolve into another of the many “making things worse while trying to make them better” stories we’ve seen so far.
JMD: I agree…and all the credit for that goes to Giffen. He’s incredibly clever for a surly, dangerous, anti-social malcontent. (That’s a joke, Keith: Please don’t try to kill me again!)
GX: Estrogina’s pretty strong, and didn’t dent Skeets while attempting to strangle him. That suggests to me he’s made of some pretty strong stuff–do we know if he’s still made of Waverider’s skin, stripped off the bone by Mr. Mind in “52″?
JMD: “Waveriders’s skin, stripped off the bone by Mr. Mind”? That’s the first I’ve heard of it. Now that’s really gross.
GX: More family-friendly fun from the creators of 52. Is there a current incarnation of The Conglomerate, by the way? I thought, when Ted mentioned them, that working with a group like that could be a perfect cover for Booster in his “dumb, crass guy” alter ego. And hey–if readers liked it maybe it could get us a fourth monthly Booster Gold title and we could be oversaturating the market as much as Superman!
JMD: It hasn’t come up, but bring back the Conglomerate is a terrific idea. Glad I thought of it!
GX: It’s my secret hope that the Gold Exchange can subtly help guide storytelling. I can’t remember the last time I saw the Zamarons–were they always yellow? And is Estrogina then a Zamaron? I ask only because I’ve been re-reading Gerry Jones’ ’90s GL run where the Zamarons are often referred to, but never seen. I think back to Millennium and feel like they were human-looking, then forward to Blackest Night and remember them as blue. Maybe they’re just prolific procreators.
JMD: All humans don’t look alike or have the same skin color—and the same applies to Zamarons. I don’t think Estrogina is a Zamaron, though. (And I have a sneaking suspicion her legal name’s not Estrogina, either.)
GX: All that being an aside, will we see Estrogina again in the present (this storyline’s future)?
JMD: I’d love to bring her back: we only scratched the surface of the character and there’s a lot of room for future development. Booster needs some recurring villains that are all his own—and we’ve got a few more coming up in the near future.
GX: I’m glad to see they’re getting the book back from the Darkstars, after my earlier concern that it would vanish into oblivion or fall into the wrong hands when the Darkstars fell in the late ’90s. Really too bad for Booster that he had no street cred with John Stewart or Donna Troy at this point in the characters’ history, it could totally go a lot faster!
JMD: You were concerned about the (kinda/sorta) Book of Destiny falling into the wrong hands? It’s not real, Russ. We made it up! These are just stories! Guess this is what happens when the baby keeps you awake night after night after night…
But seriously: the resolution with the Book probably won’t be what you expect. I know it wasn’t what I expected. (I’m not kidding when I say that I often have no idea what the story’s going to be about until i get Keith’s plot. Which certainly keeps things fresh!)