For over 30 years, Dan Jurgens has helped mold the world of Clark Kent and his cosmic alter-ego. From his first brush with the Son of Krypton as a penciler on 1987’s The Adventures of Superman Annual #1 to his iconic stint as a writer and artist for on Superman in the ’90s, which spawned the best-selling graphic novel Death of Superman, Jurgens has made his mark on the Man of Tomorrow.
Now, as Action Comics heads towards its thousandth issue, Jurgens is moving on from the Big Blue Boy Scout yet again. We got an exclusive look at Jurgens’ last issue, and caught up with him to talk about three decades of creating Superman comics, his last issue of Action Comics, and the morality of the Man of Steel.
Jurgens’ time on Superman makes him one of the iconic character’s longest tenured creators, a fact that’s not lost on the storyteller. “Knowing that I was able to make that kind of contribution to one of, if not the most notable character in comics, is really quite special,” Jurgens told Nerdist. “One of the reasons for that is it means I was able to find different things to say about the character, while at the same time finding some consistency in approach. It can be a delicate line to walk and I think I found the right path.”
Collaborating with Jurgens on Action Comics #999 is artist Will Conrad, who brings a unique take to his visualization of Supes. “Will has a particular approach to Superman that captures him quite well,” Jurgens said. “I’ve always said that Superman needs to have a certain sense of presence on the page that comes across all the time. Will gives Superman that sense of presence and stature that really feels like Superman. At the same time, Jon and Lois have the necessary level of humanity that works for them. It’s a great approach.”
Issue #999 is a juxtaposition between epic Superman space action and the interior home life of Lois and Clark, but it also explores the idea of restorative justice, something often ignored in cape comics. “We talk all the time about what a horrible place the Phantom Zone is—being stuck there is a particular form of cruel and unusual punishment,” Jurgens said. “So that takes us down the road of wondering if Superman would really use that as a prison? In our understanding of Superman, would he really act as judge, jury, and ‘executioner’ in terms of sentencing someone—even as evil as Cyborg Superman—to the Phantom Zone? Or would he try to actually help him?”
These kinds of questions are what appear to make Superman a fascinating character to Jurgens. “I’ve always said that one of the unique things about Superman is that he deals with the victims of a crime in a way that most superheroes don’t,” he said. “Yes, he’s there to stop the criminal, but he’s also there to help the victim. And, given his origin, Cyborg Superman is also a victim.”
Jurgens began his current Superman arc with the Rebirth relaunch, which saw Action Comics return to its original numbering. “This really acts as an epilogue to our previous story, which was all about family,” Jurgens said. “We’re continuing that here. It also serves as a bridge to my story in Action 1000. Both deal with the concept of, ‘Who is Superman?’ Sure, we see the obvious, which is his ability to move a mountain, but does he ever go beyond that?”
He continued, “Anytime a writer is exploring a character, they have to find the proper parameters. As I step aside, I decided to do a little of that with Superman rather than just tell ‘the next big adventure.’”
The thing Jurgens is most excited about in his last issue is the fact that it’s a story that matters. “We aren’t marking time here—not just filling in the gaps,” he said. “We advanced the ball on the family’s overall relationship. We also addressed the overall question of how Superman relates to his rogues gallery. It made for a very nice way to bid a fond farewell to Superman.”
Action Comics #999 hits your local comic shop on Wednesday, March 14.
Sad to see Jurgens leave Superman again? Can’t wait to see what he’s up to next? Just enjoying our exclusive preview pages? Let us know below!
Images: DC Comics
- DC Black Label hands off Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman to iconic creators
- Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie will basically be The Killing Joke
- Read our review of Jessica Jones season two!