Interview: J.M. DeMatteis on Kraven and Booster Gold

J.M. DeMatteis is a writer with a lot on his plate. Currently engaged in projects for Marvel, DC, and other companies both in comics and beyond, he shows no signs of slowing down after more than 30 years in the industry. At Marvel, he's penning a back-up serial that will accompany the upcoming Grim Hunt storyline in Amazing Spider-Man, featuring two characters he is strongly associated with; Kraven the Hunter, the obsessive, yet tragic villain who met his end in DeMatteis' seminal Kraven's Last Hunt (AKA Fearful Symmetry), and Kaine, the warped clone of Peter Parker, whose trials and tribulations DeMatteis has been chronicling since the 1990s Clone Saga. These two formidable men will be going head-to-head in this "untold" story, playing out across Amazing Spider-Man #634-636. At DC, DeMatteis reunites with his longtime collaborator Keith Giffen as they take over the solo adventures of Booster Gold, the loveable, bumbling superhero, whose persona was defined by DeMatteis and Giffen during their Justice League International run of the 1980s and a series of follow-ups. I spoke with DeMatteis to get the skinny on these projects, and learn what else he has in store.






Matt Adler: How did the idea for you to do Kraven back-up stories in Amazing Spider-Man come up?

J.M. DeMatteis: Steve Wacker was telling me about the Grim Hunt storyline (which is going to be terrific.  I've read Joe Kelly's first couple of scripts and they're very powerful) and suggested I do a four-part story to run behind "GH" in Amazing.  I loved the idea and immediately cooked up a forty page Kaine-Kraven confrontation called Hunting the Hunter.  It's been quite a trip writing Kraven again after more than twenty years.  

MA: Is it planned for you to continue doing these back-up stories (perhaps featuring other characters) on a regular basis?

JMD: Nope.  Hunting the Hunter is meant to enhance the Grim Hunt arc and give the readers some extra bang for their buck.  

MA: As longtime readers know, Kaine, the damaged Spider-clone, has already been shown to have an indirect connection with Kraven, in that he murdered Kraven's son, the Grim Hunter. Does your story tie-in to that, given the title of the main ASM story (The Grim Hunt) which also features the offspring of Kraven?

JMD: The Kraven-Kaine confrontation links directly to and, I hope, enriches, both Kraven's Last Hunt and Grim Hunt. (Don't ask me how, I'm not gonna tell you!)  But it also works as a stand-alone story.

MA: This isn't the only Kaine story you've done lately; you also tackled him in the debut issue of the new Web Of Spider-Man series (where you've been doing a number of stories, including with Ben Reilly).  Do you have any thoughts about dealing with Kaine in an ongoing series (either as the headliner, or as a supporting character)?

JMD: Kaine is a wonderful, multi-layered character.  Spider-Man: The Lost Years—which focused on the Kaine-Ben Reilly relationship—is one of my all-time favorites out of the many Spider-stories I've written, so it's been great fun re-connecting with Kaine after all these years.  I'd pretty much jump at any chance to write the character.

MA: Across town at the Distinguished Competition; you're working on Booster Gold with Keith Giffen, which is accompanied by Justice League: Generation Lost by Keith and Judd Winick. At the time of your last JLI story (I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League), you and Keith seemed pretty definitive that you were done with these characters. Did something change either with how you guys felt about it, or with DC?

JMD: We were pretty much done with those characters after I Can't Believe…   But time passes and, as it is with good friends you haven't seen in years (even the ones you got really sick of), you start to miss the old gang.  I was recently re-reading some of our old JLI stuff and thinking "Hmmm, it'd be fun to write these guys again."  Not long after that Keith called about Booster Gold:  the timing couldn't have been better.  Soon after that, I wrote an episode of Batman: Brave And The Bold — it's for next season — that featured a version of our JLI and I had a terrific time.  (The good news is I should be getting started on a second JLI episode of B & B very soon.)  It was the perfect way to warm up for Booster.

MA: How does it feel to be working with Booster again, specifically?

JMD: It's been great…and interesting trying to find the balance between the "new" Booster (he's evolved quite a bit since the JLI days) and our Booster.  At heart, though, he's the same guy.  He may have saved the universe, but he's still got the same basic insecurities and the same sense of humor.  So it didn't take long to find his voice.

MA: Have you read the prior run on Booster by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, and Dan Jurgens? What do you think of what they did?

JMD: Our editor, Mike Siglain, sent me a stack of Booster trades and recent issues and I gobbled them all up.  I thought those guys did a terrific job.

MA: Will the tone on yours and Keith's run be significantly different?

JMD: It will be us doing what we do.  The Giffen-DeMatteis mix of character-driven super-hero adventure and "bwah-ha-ha" neo-vaudeville humor, with more word balloons than you ever thought could fit on one page.  Expect no more, expect no less!    

MA: How closely will you guys be coordinating with Generation Lost? Will there be a lot of JLI guest stars?

JMD: Since Keith is working on both titles, the coordinating is in his hands.  Continuity gives me a headache so Keith tells me what I need to know and nothing more…and that's just the way I want it.  The good news is that, despite the direct connection to the new JLI mini, our Booster series gives us plenty of room to play in the JLI-universe without constraints.  So we're tied in…but free at the same time.  (If that's confusing, well…read the book and you'll see what I mean.)

By our second issue you'll be seeing Booster bumping up against the JLI characters…and it will be very much in keeping with the insanity of our old stories.  But don't forget that the Giffen-DeMatteis JLI also had plenty of serious moments.  We're aiming for that same balance here.

MA: What's the toughest thing about writing time travel stories?

JMD: You keep bumping into alternate versions of yourself.  My office is getting very crowded.

MA: You're also co-writing Authority: The Lost Year with Keith. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

JMD: The premise of The Lost Year is that the Authority is lost in the Bleed, hopping from Earth to Earth, constantly running into parallel- world versions of themselves.  Keith thought it would be fun if the Authority on one of those worlds was infused with a spirit of "bwah-ha-ha."  So we've got the real Authority meeting up with an Authority that would be more at home in the pages of JLI.  And then we throw in a group of villains that…well, I don't want to say too much, but they're led by a guy called Emperor Maximus (accent on the Max) and one of his underlings is named Dung Beetle.  I can say no more!

MA: What other projects are you working on these days?

 JMD: My kids fantasy novel, Imaginalis, will be out at the end of June, courtesy of the good people at HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books.  Very, very excited about that.  If you're a fan of Abadazad or Stardust Kid, I suspect you'll enjoy this, as well.  

Been continuing to do animation work, for Brave And The Bold and a new Cartoon Network series called Sym-Bionic Titan (which, I believe, comes on in late summer/early fall), and there's other animation work—that I can't talk about yet—in the pipeline, as well.

On the comics front:  Aside from Kraven, Booster and The Authority, I recently finished another Ben Reilly story for Web Of Spider-Man.  Continuing to do editing (and chiefing) for Ardden Entertainment (our Casper series, which ran into some scheduling nightmares, will be resuming very shortly as will Flash Gordon.  We've got some other fun stuff waiting in the wings).  I also want to remind folks that the collected edition of The Life And Times Of Savior 28—illustrated by the brilliant Mike Cavallaro—came out a few months ago from IDW.  I think it's one of the best comics projects I've ever worked on and I encourage anyone who's enjoyed my work over the years to give it a read.

2010 has been an incredibly busy year so far and I should have some other fun projects to talk about a few months down the line.   



This is Matt Adler's second article for iFanboy. Let the hazing commence.


  1. /like

  2. Guh, I keep waffling between whether I want to continue reading Booster Gold. At the moment I’m leaning toward dropping it, as I don’t want to get sucked into the whole Generation Lost thing. I’m sure it’ll be fine, I’m just not sure I can afford it.

  3. From what DeMatteis is saying, it sounds like this will pretty much stand on its own, it just won’t contradict what’s going on in Generation Lost.

    Personally, I’d have liked for him to be the co-writer on Generation Lost as well.

  4. I for one am always happy for more Booster, bring it on!

  5. PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    Thanks, iFanboy! I’m currently reading the hardcovers D.C. put out of J.M. DeMatteis’ JLI. I’m amused by the absentminded demeanor he gives President Reagan. His characters are always nicely nuanced. That’s how writers like Jason Aaron and Bendis keep me coming back for more each month. Fill them pages with as much humanity as will fit!