Jason Strangis caught up with Dan Jurgens at Awesome Con 2018.
On April 18th, DC Comics will publish Action Comics #1000. It also happens to coincide with Superman's 80th anniversary — and sharing in that celebration will be Minnesota writer/artist Dan Jurgens.
For the past several years Jurgens has been writing Superman's adventures in Action Comics. Back in 1992, Jurgens worked on the famous Death of Superman issue that created a sensation around the world. The chilling cover showed Superman's shredded red cape blowing in the wind symbolizing a fallen hero, the outcome of a cataclysmic battle with a powerful villain known as Doomsday. But the Man of Steel wouldn't stay down for long and soon was brought back to life, both in comics and the movies.
Besides Superman, Jurgens has written and drawn the adventures of other popular superheroes such as Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Fantastic Four, and many others. He's currently writing Batman Beyond for DC. In addition, Jurgens has always been a popular guest at comic book conventions in St. Paul, Minnesota, graciously signing autographs for hometown fans. Recently he took time to answer some of my questions about Action Comics reaching 1000.
So, why has the Man of Steel lasted for 80 years and counting? Jurgens says:
"In part, it's because Superman captured the attention of the nation from the moment he appeared. He was different enough that he took the country a bit by storm and quickly made it into other media. But more than that, I think that Superman embodies our best aspirations. I've always said that Batman is who we are while Superman is who we want to be."
In the past decade Batman may have surpassed Superman in terms of popularity, especially with the younger generation. Many fans consider Batman to be much cooler and more relatable — an ordinary man who becomes a creature of the night with a dramatic dark costume and long flowing cape with a collection of villains like Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, Riddler, Scarecrow, Bane, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy.
Superman's main antagonist, of course, is Lex Luthor. He's still around after all these years, trying use his smarts and brainpower to outwit. Jurgens says:
"Lex has always served as a nice counterpoint to Superman. He doesn't have powers, but he does have the motivation and scientific genius and resources to pose a challenge. It's always been interesting to me that Superman's greatest enemy is a man without extra-normal abilities."
On Lois Lane, another key character in Superman's life:
"If you go all the way back to 1938 when Action Comics #1 first appeared, Lois was there. She already had a career as an independent, strong-willed reporter. In those days that was rare."
And after eight decades Superman is still fighting the never-ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
"I honestly believe that Superman should be more relevant than ever. It seems to me that we should turn to the hero that is the most inspirational."