A video interview with Jurgens will run here later today or tomorrow as part of our coverage of New York Comic Con.
In addition to being one of the best-selling comic book writers and artists of the 1990s, Jurgens can take credit for redefining the Man of Steel with his death, resurrection, marriage and "power change" stories, among many, many others. Now, with DC's New 52 initiative, Jurgens is faced with the task of reinventing Superman yet again—this time without the benefit of referencing his own previous continuity.
As the creator of the character Booster Gold in the 1980s, Jurgens was approached to pencil the book when it was relaunched with superstar writer Geoff Johns and film executive Jeff Katz a few years ago; four years on, he spent the better part of the comic's 49 monthly issues drawing and later writing the adventures of a Booster Gold that was both a natural extension of the one he had written twenty years previous, and radically different in his personality and the storytelling approach to anything Jurgens had written in the series' first incarnation.
The result, most fans and critics agree, was a Booster Gold who came out stronger and more interesting than he had ever been. Can he do it again with the most storied character in all of comics? And how much (or how little) of his previous approach can be retained when the character he's writing is literally a different guy?
Editor's Note: The cover to January's Superman #5 was originally, erroneously reported as the cover to Jurgens's first issue, #7. This was due to a misunderstanding at the DC All Access: Superman panel. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
ComicBook.com: What can you tell us about how you and Keith came to be the team on Superman? Dan Jurgens: Superman editor Matt Idelson contacted Keith and me and basically said, "Hey! How would you guys like to co-write, conspire and Dan draw Superman?" We started batting around different ideas, thoughts and notes and had a "go" a day or two later.
ComicBook.com: What, exactly, will be the roles/division of labor? Both of you have histories as successful writers, successful pencillers and Keith has done breakdowns for books like Booster Gold and 52. DJ: "Co-conspire" is somewhat the best term to describe it. Keith and I will talk and shape the general direction of the overall story and individual issue in question. Kind of like planning a trip. Then Keith types up a plot, which I then break down into page breaks and draw, scribbling some dialogue stuff on the pages, which Keith will then type up. Or at least, that's how we'll start. In the creative process there's always some give-and-take and it's often hard to tell where one contribution starts and the other ends. There's a lot of overlap, all of which is GOOD.
ComicBook.com: After being “the new full-time creative team” on Green Arrow for a few months and now “the new full-time creative team” on Superman—are you and Keith really committed to this title or are you in a holding pattern a little bit while DC gets their ducks in a row? DJ: 150% on board committed. This is IT.
[caption id="attachment_8567" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="The cover to SUPERMAN #5, projected on the screen a yesterday's DC All Access: Superman panel"][/caption]
ComicBook.com: What's the basic premise of your Superman, in a nutshell? DJ: The atmosphere for the book will be big, grand and sweeping adventure. In terms of Superman himself, it's a question of what makes this guy different from before? Superman has a certain sense of integrity to him that is always present, but this is still a younger version of the Man of Steel we're talking about. What does Metropolis think of him? The rest of the world? Who is Clark? How is he different? What is his life life and how does it relate to him being Superman?
ComicBook.com: While the New DC Universe is a whole new set of characters in a whole new set of circumstances, it's probably inescapable that you're a guy who has left his mark on the previously-established Superman mythology in a big way. Do you think it will be harder to actually write this new Superman or to convince readers that's what you plan to do? DJ: Harder? No? Challenging? Yes. My #1 self-imposed rule is that if I wrote it before, I ain't doing so now. The parameters around Superman have changed and we'll reflect that. As far as I'm concerned, not having his parents around makes a substantial difference, not only in his current life, but how he got to where he's at.
ComicBook.com: What's the secret to making a character like Superman look “younger” but still maintaining the same basic guy? DJ: Most of it is in the face. A little smoother, less chiseled. And attitude and facial expressions will be a big part of it as well.
ComicBook.com: Is it harder, do you think, establishing a separate and distinct identity for Superman that's still Superman as a writer or as an artist? DJ: Not sure I quite understand. You mean distinct from Clark or distinct from other heroes? I've always said there's a certain way Superman carries himself that should come through on the page. We're talking gestures and body posture here. When Superman walks in the room, he commands it. He has presence. Clark doesn't, nor do other heroes. Not when compared with Superman, anyway.
ComicBook.com: It's been established at conventions that Doomsday!/The Death of Superman is a story that occurred in the new universe. And really...not much else. By and large, Superman's new history has been shrouded in secrecy. Is it tempting to address that story, as one of your biggest successes, or is it more a matter of “It's a new universe, and doing a greatest hits tour here doesn't make sense.”? DJ: My approach on writing in this new DCU is generally not to ever have an entire three page sequence where a couple of characters spend time talking about the past. I think it's far better to drop a single sentence or quip, here and there, that define these things. One comment can say a lot. So, yeah, no greatest hits tour.
ComicBook.com: Obviously you've worked, or are working, with outgoing writer George P rez quite a bit. In terms of big “vision for the character” stuff, have you discussed with him what (if any) plans he had past the first six issues, and how that might be incorporated into the vision you and Keith have for the book? DJ: We're looking at both the current books in terms of trying to determine where they are and what they're doing and how we fit with that.
ComicBook.com: You've been dealing a lot lately with Booster Gold—a character you created, then who you later became very closely associated with when he was relaunched. As a result, we talked at great length about your long-term plans for Booster, Rip and company in the “old” DC Universe. Are you approaching Superman in a similar way, where you assume you'll still be here in two years and have plans for #25, or is this more a matter of turning out the strongest issue you can each month in case the new DC Universe takes you in a direction you don't expect?
DJ: Planning #25 is way down the road, though it's nice to think we'll be confronted with that at some point. Right now we're concentrating on building the foundation, then the walls, then the roof, etc. First thing is to define Clark, Superman and the characters we'll be focusing on. Then, within that context, the first couple of stories. Then we lay in something longer term. It's all part of the process