And please, no trolling/flaming.
*One of the surprise announcements from last weekend’s WizardWorld LA came in the DC Nation panel with the announcement of a new Booster Gold series to launch this summer, co-written by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and drawn by Booster Gold’s creator, Dan Jurgens.
While we spoke with Johns over the weekend about the announcement, we wanted a fuller picture of how the book came to be, along with what could be told about the new series’ storylines, so we got all three creators on the horn.
Newsarama: Jeff, you’re the unknown quantity here, so let’s start with you. Can you give us the short form of who you are, and how you got here?
Jeff Katz: I’m currently an executive at New Line and have been involved in projects like Freddy vs. Jason, Snakes on a Plane, and a film called Shoot ‘em Up coming out in September with Clive Owen. I’m basically, a life-long DC freak. I literally learned to read with DC Comics. Oddly enough, it was always an ambition to go in this direction, but I figured it was always something that I would do in my 30’s at some point after I got my film burst out of the way, but this project kinda of just “happened” serendipitously.
As for my background, I grew up in suburban Detroit, not far from where Geoff grew up, and then started my career when I was 15 as a host on talk radio, then went into wrestling when I was 17, went to New Line when I was 20, and here I am at 28. It’s been a very bizarre run.
NRAMA: So how did you land on this specific project? Did you have pitched in at DC, or was there another doorway?
JK: Because of the benefit of my current job, I’ve been able to meet and have relationships with a lot of top comic guys, and Geoff was one of the first guys I met in comics. I think it was Super Bowl night 2001…or 2002. Generally, the people I would meet with in comics want to talk movies, and I’d want to talk comics. But being a big DC guy, I was as hooked as anyone with the Crisis build up, and by the time 52 started, I’d be going to lunch with Grant [Morrison] or seeing Geoff in meetings, and would try to call twists that were coming up. Geoff knew was interested, and I had done a quick little thing that was in an Image anthology, I’ve been on DC properties here at New Line, and so the timing all just worked out. It was fate at a certain level, I suppose.
NRAMA: Moving to the specific project, let’s go over to Geoff – you were working with Booster in 52, so are you kind of the point person on this that got the bal rolling?
Geoff Johns: In a way, yeah. I’ve like Booster Gold since I read his series back in the ‘80s. He was a great character, and one of the ones I really gravitated towards when I was first reading comic books, and in 52, I just loved writing him. He’s a really unique character who’s been through a ton of stuff. He continued being one of my favorite characters, even when everyone was calling him out and thinking that he was a big jerk, when he’s actually the greatest hero in 52 at the end of the day. Actually, by far, he’s the greatest hero at the end of 52.
I just loved the idea that this guy, who had a reputation that he was desperate to overcome, but through circumstances, a little like the Thing over at Marvel, through circumstances and his own fault, he always ended up looking like a jerk, or doing something heroic when nobody was around to see it. So I started getting more and more ideas about him as a character and where he would go after 52, and what his role in the DC Universe would be, and I really wanted to explore that. I started working on some ideas, and that was where Jeff came into the picture.
We started throwing ideas back and forth, and after a little bit, it just made sense that we do this together. We spitballed from there on what we would like to see in a Booster Gold book, and how we could make him different from the rest of the characters in the DC Universe, and how could we also keep everything that made Booster such a great character in the beginning, and also progressed him into his next evolution within the DC Universe – and that last part is why Dan’s on board as well.
But with Booster, the fun part about it is that you’re talking about a guy who’s secret identity is essentially being an idiot. He has to keep up that illusion, even though he can’t stand it, in order to be the most unsuspected hero in the DC Universe. Just like Rip Hunter created an identity for himself, Booster Gold kind of has the same thing going on.
NRAMA: Moving to the art side, Dan, how did you get involved with this, and in your wildest dreams, did you ever think that you would one day be back on a Booster Gold series?
Dan Jurgens: I don’t know if I ever thought I would or wouldn’t, but in this case, Mike Siglain, who’s editing the book called me up and said, “Just sit down and listen for a while – I want to throw something at you.” He threw the pitch at me, and it was attractive not only because it was Booster Gold, but thematically, the stuff it’s going to deal with in terms of Rip Hunter and time travel were also things that I enjoyed doing in the DCU even after I got done doing Booster in the first place. Some of that stuff I did through Superman and Zero Hour and other places.
So thematically, just aside from the fact that it was that particular character, it also attracted me because of what the book is going to be about for the first couple of years.
GJ: What’s funny in all of this is that Dan is one of my favorite creators for a long, long time, and in a lot of stuff I work on, I actually pick up stuff from his stories – Cyborg Superman, Extant, and all these other great characters and ideas. I’ve been wanting to work with Geoff for a long time.
JK: Dan’s going to absolutely hate hearing this, but I’ve got to say it anyway – I’ve practically grown up reading his work…
DJ: Well, I wouldn’t say that I hate hearing that…
NRAMA: It’s just that Jeff sounds very mature for a six year old?
DJ: Exactly! [laughs]
GJ: I got into comics late, compared to some people my age, but when I was getting into them in the mid to late ‘80s…Dan, I hate to say it too, but you were the guy. Half the books I bought back then, you had something to do with them.
JK: I’m in a similar boat. If I go through my collection, there’s a lot of Jurgens in there.
GJ: Yeah – every time I saw an Adventures of Superman with Dan’s name on it, I knew it was going to be a good issue. Your Mxyzptlk stuff was awesome. All the stuff you did on Superman was just terrific.
JK: I still have my polybagged Death of Superman issue…
DJ: You and tow or three other people. [laughs]
JK: I’ve been thinking of opening it, just to get the armband out.
DJ: Actually, if you’re gong to open it, do it for the poster inside – that was the fun thing to do.
GJ: But with Dan, it wasn’t just something that was DC-specific. I love his runs on Captain America at Marvel, and his work on Thor. All just grfeta stuff.
DJ: You know, it’s a good thing I’m involved in this interview, or people would think I just died.
NRAMA: Dan – Geoff had said there that you’re somewhat involved with keeping a guiding eye on Booster as the series goes along. With everything that Booster has gone through since you let go of him, has he been shown as you originally intended?
DJ: I thought all of the Booster stories in the build up to Crisis and then in 52 have made a lot of sense for the character, as well as a lot of what came before that. Where I think writers get Booster wrong is when they make him an idiot. He’s a very smart guy, but what he is is a guy who has the best of intentions to do it all better, but somehow, something always goes wrong. Booster’s like that, and also, something always gets in his way.
Geoff Johns and I were talking the other day, and I was saying that Booster’s problem is that if a place is going to crash, he’s going to go and save the plane, and nobody will die, but part of the problem will be that he’ll call the press just to make sure they’re there to film it, and because he gets there a little late, the tip fo the wing might clip the side of a building, and wreck someone’s office, etc, etc, so things aren’t always as clean as they would be if he were Superman. He does have that profit motive, but part of that is character rehabilitation for him, because it all started out with him screwing up when he was young anyway.
He’s one of these guys who things just don’t end up cleanly for him, and I thought everyone was very consistent with that approach in 52.
GJ: I always go back to the comparisons to the Thing. The interesting thing with him is that Ben Grimm always has this stroke of bad luck at the worst time, and he gives into it a little bit. Booster’s a little bit the opposite – he tries to make the best out of bad situations, and he will end up being his own worst enemy at times. At least he used to be.
JK: It’s like a scene from the movie Ed Wood - and I keep thinking of Booster about it – Johnny Depp’s on the phone with the studio head, and the studio head tell shim that the movie he just gave him is the worst movie that he ever saw. And Ed Wood’s entire response is a giant smile and saying, “Well my next one will be better!” Booster’s kind of that kind of guy. He tries very hard. Geoff and I made the analogy that in some ways, Booster is like that guy who’s just out of college for a year or two, and is finally getting his feet on the ground and realizing what real life is and is ready to step up and accept what responsibility it, and is ready to take on life, only to realize that life isn’t quite the way he expects it to be.
GJ: Exactly. Even though at this point in his life and career, he should be a member of the Justice League, and should have all the accolades, because he’s starting to be as altruistic as he can, certain things that are in the series will prevent him from doing that.
NRAMA: For Geoff and Jeff – where does this series pick up with Booster, and what’s the high concept behind it all?
GJ: I don’t want to spoil too much, because of 52 coming to an end, but I’ll just say that it’s firmly entrenched in the DC Universe, as far as time-travel goes. We can go anywhere, and anywhen. And in a way, it’s a link between 52 and Countdown, but more than that, it’s the journey of Booster Gold and too his next evolution.
JF: He’s almost solidifying his place as one of the most major players in the history of the DC Universe.
GJ: Yes – but without doing it. If that makes sense.
JF: And he’s dong it in a way that both he and fans might not fully expect.
One of our real missions with this is to give Booster a niche and a role in the fabric of the DCU where even years down the line when big events hit, he’s going to have a logical reason to be there. They’ve done such a great job of elevating him through the last couple of years, and putting him through this hell to the point now where everyone is hungry to see him step up…he’s going to do that, but it’s going to be in a way that will surprise some people and make the book fun.
GJ: It will be in a way that only Booster Gold can do it, and that’s the goal of this book. One thing I never liked when Firestorm lost Professor Stein, and just became Ronnie Raymond with powers – he just became another superhero. He lost what made him special. Booster Gold has something that’s incredibly special to him – that’s what we’re going to explore. And he does, as Jeff said, have a niche that he’ll be firmly entrenched in by the time the book gets going. He does have a definite purpose in the DCU, and that’s really to play time cop in a sense.
JK: Yeah – it’s about fun and stakes. They can mutually exist. This book is going to count for something, and the “time cop” analogy is a good one.
NRAMA: Dan, and assuming that this won’t give away any plot points, is Booster going to be in the same costume – some tweaks, a redesign?
DJ: My own take is that Booster probably has to be in the same costume because of the micro-weave circuitry. It’s always been my general idea that Booster Gold could not easily change his costume in this century, because the technology does not exist to adequately replace it.
That’s been touched upon at various times in the Justice League as to whether it could or couldn’t, but if you’re picking up components form the future to bring back to this time to give you powers, I don’t think that technology is easily replaced. That doesn’t mean he can’t go somewhere and do it, it just means that he can’t go into Home Depot and get the stuff he needs right now.
GJ: One of the cool things too with having Dan on board is being able to play with all of Booster’s history as it was all intended. Like the Legion flight ring he wears – I asked Dan whose ring it was, and he knows, so we’re going to play around with it. There’s still a lot of stuff with Booster’s equipment that can be explored, and Dan has a lot of that backstory in his head that he’s never had a chance to really play with.
DJ: And we’re not going to tell you what it is now…[laughs]
GJ: Although I will say that the second issue is Booster forced to team up with Sinestro when he was a Green Lantern.
GJ: And Sinestro is the most egotistical jackass Booster’s ever met, next to himself, of course…
The first arc is called “52 Pick-Up” and plays off the end of 52, and deals with Booster playing with the major characters of the DC Universe, and pieces of their respective pasts.
One thing about Booster Gold, too, is that he knows their futures and their pasts, so when he meets up with Sinestro, for example, Sinestro says, “Oh, you’re from the future? You’ve heard of Sinestro, I’m sure.” Booster can only give a “Oh yeah, we’ve heard of you.”
So you get to play off all of this fun stuff, because you’re with Booster Gold the whole time. The reader is Booster Gold, and that’s going to be part of the fun.
JK: Yeah – if you’re a DC fan, it’s a trip through a lot of fun areas and corners of the DC Universe.
NRAMA: Just to finish up, in all of this, we’re talking only about Booster, and given what happened in 52, is it safe to say that Skeets won’t be around?
GJ: I feel Skeets is an important part of the whole “Booster Gold” picture, and so does Jeff, and Dan, who created him…so you’ll have to wait and see.*
I'm really excited about this.
Post Edited:2007-03-21 21:25:39