Time Masters: Vanishing Point #6 & FLASHPOINT Exclusive News!

The first question here is a biggie, I'll tell you that up front. And while many fans (notably Kevin Allen, who often comments on The Gold Exchange and who posts regularly on Boosterrific.com) have already guessed at it, it's something that not only hasn't been officially announced yet by DC, but which delayed the whole Gold Exchange interview by almost a full day while Dan Jurgens called around to get clearance and make sure we weren't breaking any rules. So I'm happy to make it the first thing I ask as The Gold Exchange makes its way back to its first and true home here at Comic Related.

Time Masters: Vanishing Point #6 hit this week and has already been stirring up reactions from non-Booster Gold readers with a chalkboard at the end of the issue that's dangling a number of enticing Flashpoint plot threads in front of readers months before Geoff Johns' ambitious time-travel crossover story even begins in May...and with a "to be continued" tag at the end of this story that says Booster Gold #44 and Flashpoint #1, it seems pretty likely that DC's premier behind-the-scenes time-travelers (That's Rip and Booster) will play a fairly substantial role in that story.

Comic Related: So-as we've done once or twice before, last thing first: Back when it was announced you'd be leaving Booster Gold for a while to take on Time Masters: Vanishing Point, it became public knowledge after an issue of Booster Gold had "To Be Continued In..." tagged at the end. Now that story is finished and the last issue of Time Masters says "To be continued in Booster Gold #44." Will you be the one continuing your storyline in a new title here, as you did after The Tomorrow Memory?

Dan Jurgens: Yes. I'll be jumping back to Booster Gold as of issue #44, which I've just started drawing. It's good to be home!

CR: It's interesting-the bookends in this series have really served as a stark reminder of something that I already have had in the back of my mind since the reveal that Booster is Rip's dad-nothing really bad can happen to our hero, since he lives at least long enough to raise a son and do the stuff he does in The Tomorrow Memory. That being the case, Booster is left without one of the big "stakes" that a writer in an adventure story has to fall back on. How do you compensate for that?

DJ: I think there are a couple of things that come into play in a situation like that:

Yes, we've seen the older Booster. But we've also made it clear that, while the past is solidified time, the future can be changed. So it's possible that something could happen to Booster, thus eliminating his older self.

I suppose it's also possible that his older self could be from an alternate future.

Or he could be from Booster's future and everything will work out just fine.

CR: Also-a lot of people know that Booster is from the future, but the idea of his stealing the artifacts is not (apparently) well-known. It's not only mentioned here, but has become the premise of Keith and JM's current plot, which has him being returned to the 25th Century for trial. Are these disparate facts all connected intentionally or was it just an easy way to remind readers that he's from the same time as Reverse Flash?

DJ: The idea of Booster being pursued from the future for the crime of theft is something I dealt with in volume one, so it isn't an entirely "out of the blue" element. And because it's his origin-- every bit as important to him as the Wayne's murders are to Bruce-- it's a natural to play with and connect.

But, yes, I wanted to point out the potential connection between Booster and the Reverse Flash.

CR: Given that this version of Professor Zoom is really just a color-reversed version of Barry's outfit, is there anything really notable you do differently in terms of how you approach drawing him versus The Flash? Or is it enough to separate them in your head because you haven't really drawn that much Barry in your career as compared to Wally?

DJ: Yeah! It's more than color! The lightning bolt on the chest goes the other way too!

And he has more of an evil look to him, which is always fun. In many ways, bad guys are more fun to draw than good guys.

CR: It might just be that I just re-read The Tomorrow Memory, but I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I never saw the Daniel twist coming until this issue-and that this month I saw it immediately. Is it kind of a nice tool to have in your arsenal that Old Booster can pretty much turn up when he's needed now?

DJ: The Supernova suit can provide excellent cover for a time traveler. I tried to kind of play it down the middle, thinking there was enough for people to come up with the idea, or certainly connect the dots once I revealed it.

CR: Is Booster's "I'm not really an expert on time travel" comment heartfelt or is that for Hal and Superman's benefit?

DJ: I'd say that's heartfelt. He isn't an expert on time travel-- yet. He's a Time Master in training who'll eventually get there. But if he was on his own it'd be a struggle because it's not as though he has the knowledge or skill to actually build a time sphere.

Don't get me wrong-- he understands a great deal more than he did but there's still room for improvement.

CR: It kind of looks like Supernova isn't fighting back while Black Beetle whomps on him. Is that a sign that Black Beetle has a role to play, and that Old Booster isn't comfortable with the possibility of taking him out of action at this stage in his career? Rip is similarly blase about the fact that he can't pick up the Beetle's trail when Superman asks him to.

DJ: It isn't that Supernova didn't fight back-- more like the speed and ferocity of the attack took him by surprise.

And, yes, Rip was blase, but there were clearly other, more urgent matters to attend to.

CR: A handful of fans have asked on message boards about whether the DC Universe at large had ever found out about Booster as Supernova. Did he make an announcement at some point or is it only a few select people, like Superman here, who know?

DJ: I've always worked under the impression that only a few people know. I think that's part of him saving the Multiverse and keeping that a secret.
Remember-- Booster is the greatest hero you've never heard of.

CR: The change made to Liri Lee's character is an interesting one-I really expected The Linear Men to bring back Waverider in a more conventional way and enter Flashpoint as a counter to Rip, Booster and Skeets.

DJ: I think there's some fun to be had there and some good stuff to explore. A natural evolution for where the characters were left.

CR: That asked, what do you see as the central difference between the Time Masters and the Linear Men?

DJ: The Linear Men, in my opinion, were always more open to changing and altering time to fit their grand vision. After all, Waverider himself is from an alternate time. As I see it, Rip is much more firm on the idea of leaving time alone and not changing it.

CR: Will we see The Linear Men coming up in Flashpoint and/or Booster Gold anytime soon?

DJ: Stay tuned!

CR: There's a little bit of a workaround built into the end of this story-were you handed the facts that "Vanishing Point is destroyed" and "Batman may infect/ruin the timeline by returning home" as starting points for this series? They were both very important early on, but dispensed with pretty quickly here at the end.

DJ: More or less. But it's important to note, and we said this from day one, that the series would transition from a "Return of Bruce Wayne" tie-in to a Flashpoint tie-in.

CR: I really do like the explanation Rip gives at the end of the story as to why they couldn't find Batman earlier but now they can. It makes sense in the time-travel logic of your Booster stories and it also gives readers a little gift: From here on out it's established that while the present may not be solidified time yet, it's also not necessarily something Rip can mess with any more readily than anyone else. Is that part of the "setting the rules for time travel" that you guys talked about at the start of this series?

DJ: Somewhat. It sort of leaves the window open as to concurrent events. Yes, Batman might have been lost in the past, but he was still experiencing those things at the same time as Rip and company were looking for him. Batman had to complete his journey and actually solidify that time for them to find him.

CR: So the look at Mrs. Carter here really does suggest a blonde-something that we chatted about a little bit early on but that you sidestepped, saying that it could have just been an artistic choice by Hi-Fi. Is Mrs. Booster someone we're likely to see soon, or someone the readers have already met, perchance?

DJ: No comment! There's still more to come on all that!

CR: I know a lot of the longtime fans will take a blonde as a pretty decent indication it could be Trixie Collins.

DJ: Really? She isn't the only blond in the DCU!

CR: So...Darkseid put all of this in motion, but Rip actually says he planned it all. He IS a god, but how far ahead do you think it's reasonable to say he could be planning? Could he have a hand in Flashpoint? Beyond? Or just until Bruce returned and the Omega Effect wore off?

DJ: I think Darkseid would be capable of planning Batman's push through time, but not the reception he'd necessarily get when he returned, or anything to do with those who were searching for him.

CR: You know, it's funny-as much as the pizza runner is played for laughs here, it begs the question: How long has it been since this miniseries started and any of these heroes ate anything? Alternately, of course, you can fall back on the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra (:Repeat to yourself, 'it's just a show-I should really just relax'.").

DJ: In my head, I'd say it was a couple of days for Rip, Booster, Superman and GL, while much longer for Batman.

But it's the kind of reaction we should see more of.

CR: Over on THE SOURCE, David Hyde spotlighted the reveal at the end of the issue-a "Rip Hunter blackboard," the fans' favorite plot device from the Geoff Johns run on the title and 52-but this one's not written by Rip. Whose idea was it to bring the board back into play after it's been absent, or at least substantially downplayed, for a while?

DJ: It was something that Geoff, Eddie Berganza, Mike Carlin and I came up with as we were trying to find a good way to set up Flashpoint.
I had used it a couple of times and lovedit. It's a great device, which I'm sure my good friends at Marvel must agree with, since they started using it as well.

That and black bags with a "Death of..." issue inside.

CR: I know you can't really say it-but I'll put it out there: All that writing, and all of it supposedly meaningful, done in five minutes? What're the odds that some anonymous super-speedster made that blackboard happen?

DJ: If it's a time travel story, why would it have to be a speedster? It might not have been there a few minutes earlier, but moving in time between moments, well... anything is possible!

Russell Burlingame is a journalist and columnist living and working in New York City. In high school, Russell interviewed Elliot S. Maggin for a review of the Kingdom Come novelization, and since then has worked consistently in and around the comics industry. He interned for Wizard magazine, and has freelanced for Wizard and Newsarama, in addition to a number of non-comics publications, Russell is currently working on a graphic novel based on Cap'n Internet, the comic strip that ran in his college newspaper.

Currently, in addition to his freelance work and his comics projects, Russell writes a number of columns for ComicRelated, including Conscientious Sequentials, The Gold Exchange, What's Perhappenin', Closing Statements, Reflecting 'Pool and To See or Not To See.

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