Dan Jurgens Talks DC’s Rebirth, Superman, and Action Comics

Everything old is new again as a classic Superman returns to the DCU and Action Comics gets its legacy back. Dan Jurgens filled us in.

DC Universe: Rebirth has knocked the company’s previous struggles right into last Wednesday. Part of this is the return of an older, wiser Superman, the Man of Steel who married Lois Lane before the universe was rebooted with 2011’s Flashpoint.

As a symbol of this, Action Comics has reverted to its original numbering, and when the time comes, it will be the first comic to reach the magical “1,000” number. That sense of history extends even further, with Dan Jurgens returning as writer to a character he helped define during the ’90s in the pages of Action, and steering the Neverending Battle through new challenges like parenthood and a “heroic” Lex Luthor.

Den of Geek: You have worked on the post-Crisis Superman, the New 52 Superman, and the Rebirth era Superman. How does this new Superman appearing in your Action Comics differ from your previous work?

Dan Jurgens: While this Superman is essentially the same character as the post-Crisis Superman, the conditions of his life have changed drastically. This is a different earth and some of its characters are drastically different than the ones he knew on his world. 

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His personal life is vastly different as well. Not only is he married to Lois, he now has a young son named Jon. 

So, in terms of how my work differs from what I’ve done before, it really relates to the idea of so many differences in the environment of world and characters surrounding Superman. That’s what changes things up.

How was the decision arrived upon that the Rebirth era Superman would be an older, married Superman? In other words, why was the New 52 Superman removed for this more classical version of the icon?

I think that part of the problem with the New 52 Superman is that he lacked context. Because we started five years in, there was a great deal of his past that was simply left to the imagination. We never saw how some of his relationships with other characters developed. We didn’t know much about his past adventures, alliances and enemies.

We’d seen all of that with the pre-Flashpoint Superman and I think that left him a more well rounded character, which fans seem to appreciate.

Tell us about Luthor. How does this Luthor differ from the version you have previously worked on?

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Lex Luthor is one the most complicated characters in the DC Universe.

There is an aspect of him that really wants to do good… wants to be admired and perhaps even loved. The question of whether or not he’s capable of that is another one entirely. We know he’s a murderer. We’ve seen his capacity for evil. 

Can he make up for that? Is redemption truly within his reach? That deepens his character and adds a level of tension that’s fun to explore.

In this world, what motivates Luthor? Is there truly a part of him that wants to be a hero?

Yes, there’s a large part of Luthor that wants to be a hero.  One of the questions would have to be, however, if he wants to be a hero for that right reason.

He may say the right things and do the right things, but I don’t know if that’s enough to make anyone a true hero. A certain degree of selflessness is required and the question of whether or not Luthor is capable of that is a tricky one.

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The idea of two Superman and two Lois Lanes can be daunting to a new reader yet the story you are telling is very clear and concise. How do you feel writers should approach this new dual character status quo in order to appeal to new or lapsed readers?

With any character, I think you have to find the key aspects of their personalities that really make them click. If you’re true that, true to the characters and surround them with strong stories that enhance those characters, readers will be there.

I think we’re doing that with Superman, Lois, Jon, and the rest of the cast. We’re also embracing the rich legacies that these characters embody. I also think we’ve built it in an easy to understand way that will Action Comics a fun read.

As far as your understanding, when did you first start hearing rumblings about Rebirth?

I dont think it was phrased in the context of “Rebirth”, but when I first started working on Superman: Lois and Clark a year ago, I knew that they’d be moving front and center in the DCU. That’s the series that established the fact that the were on our earth and had been living here for years, in secrecy, with their son Jon. 

In this new Rebirth era, there seems to be a thematic focus on hope and goodness, is that in reaction to the more dire film version of Superman recently featured in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

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I don’t believe it’s a reaction to the movie as much as it’s a reaction to the legacy of DC Comics, its characters and the idea of home and heroism in general. 

Certainly, with respect to Superman, we’re tapping into all of that.

What’s it like writing Lois Lane: Mommy, it’s a fascinating change for the character? 

This is one of the things that makes this era of Superman so different from what we’ve seen earlier.

Everyone remembers that Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, over 75 years ago. Lois Lane appeared there as well, and she’s been an important trailblazer for women ever since. We will now get to see her in a new role of working mother. There’s plenty to explore and say with all of that and I think it’ll add another important chapter to Lois’ legacy

Tell us about Jon Kent, how does he fit in to the new Superman mythos?

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Jon is probably the most important addition to Superman’s rich tapestry of characters in 25 years or more. He will play a fundamentally important role going forward, both in terms of Superman and Lois’ lives as well as the DCU as a whole.

How has the bi-weekly shipping schedule been treating you?

So far, so good! It’s certainly a bit of a challenge but the reader reaction is so strong that it’s really energizing. Which, to maintain a schedule like this, is crucial!

Why kick thing off with Doomsday? Why do you think that character still resonates so much so many years after his first appearance?

First of all, readers still have fond memories of the story where he first appeared.

At the same time, Superman’s life is far different than it was when the two of them first met. That’s something that will change the scope of this battle in a big way and that’s what will make it a very different story.

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The big mystery of Action Comics is the arrival of a Clark Kent separate from Superman. What can audiences expect from this mystery?

Lots of fun! Seriously, this is something that will be adding tremendous complications to Superman’s life. That will deepen and become more vexing as we move forward.

Are there any characters that you worked on back in the day that you would love to see reborn and show up in Action?

There are several. But to start with, we’re focusing on the core characters in order to really reestablish them in the eyes of fans. As they become solidified we can add others.

Can you tease what is coming up in Action Comics after the Doomsday arc?

Yes! After Doomsday we really focus a lot more on character. We start with the mysterious, new Clark Kent and after that move on to Lois and then Lex. They’re the core of the book and we really want to build around them. 

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