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Dan Jurgens, Lee Weeks talk Superman family tales in 'Action Comics' #1051

Comic Books

Dan Jurgens, Lee Weeks talk Superman family tales in ‘Action Comics’ #1051

The tale is one of three featured in the landmark issue, out this week.

It’s a brave new world for one of DC’s most storied titles. Beginning with issue #1051, the iconic Action Comics is undergoing some big changes. As the Superman “universe” grows and extends — operating in a kind of post-Warworld Saga, pre-Dawn of DC context — the book will now change to three stories centering around the “Super-Family.”

This month’s stories include a kind of Super Reunion as Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks come together for what’s being called “Lois and Clark 2: Doom Rising.” That story, a sequel of sorts from their Superman: Lois and Clark from 2015-2016, follows the Kents just as they’d relocated to a farm to figure out family life. Only not everything’s so idyllic, as Jon Kent just might incur the wrath of Doombreaker. It’s a story with a bit of everything — cutesy family stuff, world-ending threats, et.c — that also feels perfectly suited for what comes next.

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Before the book hit shelves today (January 24), we caught up with both Jurgens and Weeks last week via Zoom. The conversation included building off their first Superman story, the differences between Clark and Jon Kent, and what the rest of the story might hold.

The rest of Action Comics #1051 includes stories from Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Rafa Sandoval as well as Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage.

Superman

Variant cover by Lee Weeks. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: How does this — emotionally, thematically, etc. — tie back into the first Superman book you did?

Dan Jurgens: I think that very first story was crucial in setting them up as a family unit. Where we saw them step aside from their busy lives in Metropolis to raise Jon — under a different name, as The Whites (a sort of a tribute to Perry) — out in California, with Clark operating much more in secret and wearing a different costume because of that. And they just wanted to make sure that they could get the family off to a solid footing, and establish the base and how everything would work before going back to Metropolis. I think what this is that same sort of sensibility in who are these characters really. And, as individuals, how do they interact with one another? How do they relate? And where are they now as a family? And the idea to me is, they’re still very much this super family that lives this kind of normal everyday life in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. And that’s the fun of this whole story.

AIPT: There’s just so much potential to Jon’s story: to let him be a kid and see that family work itself out. I think there should be more of those tales.

DJ: Yeah, agreed.

AIPT: What was it like working together this time around?

DJ: It’s always a joy to work with Lee. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work — the way he approaches his work, and what he conveys on the page. He’s just so wonderful for this particular story. Because one of the things I always talked about with George Perez was when he drew the Teen Titans, each character in that group had their own language and their sort of body language and also in the way they interacted on the page. That’s really hard for a lot of us to capture. Yet Lee does it very naturally. With this Kent family, you can feel the emotion among the three of them on the page. And that’s what’s so crucial. We see the way they relate to each other — the body language, the expressions, and everything else. And it makes [Lee] the ideal person to draw this. So our whole job here is to be somewhat evocative; I think of our first story, the feeling that it had, to build on that here and tell a new story. And he’s the perfect guy to draw.

Superman

Art from Superman: Lois and Clark (2015). Courtesy of DC Comics.

Lee Weeks: From my end of things, I had taken a bit of a break from doing narrative for a couple of years. And I just prior to this, I did a little eight-pager. And this is my first real step back into doing narrative after a couple of years. The whole thing is…this is the perfect place for stepping back. So when this opportunity came up, I said if this is actually realized, and this going to go through, it’s definitely one for the materials [available]. But most importantly, because of the collaboration with Dan — and we do have a lot that we’re very simpatico on about what makes a good comic — and then just our feelings about these characters. And I love what Dan’s stories bring out of me, especially because I’m learning about these characters as well. Just through the nuances in the situations that Dan is bringing forth in this story. So it’s just just been a real joy.

DJ: For example, if you’re going to conjure up a scene where a kid has a backpack, and he has something hidden in the backpack, in and of itself, there’s nothing overly dramatic about taking a bone out of a backpack. Yet Lee is so good at building in the sense of mystery to it in the first place. What is the object when it actually comes out? That scene has impact, it has dram, and it has the cool lighting effect and everything else. But it also fits within the context of a 10-year-old kid — a lot of artists in the business who have a real hard time drawing a 10-old-kid convincingly. That’s not the case here. So it just makes for a wonderful scene. And a wonderful first chapter to our story.

AIPT: Absolutely. The thing I love here is Jon just feels so childlike, especially through that reveal and whatnot. How, then, do you compare him to Clark? Is he really his own person, or is there some kind of struggle going on?

DJ: One of the things I’ve always said about John as a character is that he has the look and the powers of his father, but he has the impetuousness of his mother. And, and I think that’s part of what is being built out here is that with Doomsday’s bone — to hide it and to make sure no one could ever use it to become an enemy of his father — is very much the reaction of Jon Kent as a 10-year-old kid. I’m not sure that 10-year-old Clark would have done the same thing. I think 10-year-old Clark was probably a little more reserved, I think 10-year-old John, with that bit of Lois to him, is going to be more likely to do something that’s a little more devil may care and a little more impetuous and perhaps a little more fun by my extension.

Dan Jurgens, Lee Weeks talk Superman family tales in 'Action Comics' #1051

Art from Superman: Lois and Clark (2015). Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: This is clearly a story from Superman’s “past,” but given that it’s happening in some bi changes for Superman and his whole “universe,” is it important to tap into some of those new energies and ideas and sense of change?

DJ: I think the the idea here is, and what we’re honestly trying to do, is continue to build out the world of a 10-year-old kid named Jon Kent. I think you kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, which was that we didn’t get to see those years of John growing up. And I think there’s a tremendous amount of untold story there. So the idea to me is to be evocative of the feeling that we had in the first mini-series. And then to go through and continue to build this out — going forward to develop who he is, who he was as a character, and how he really interacted with his parents and where they went as a family.

AIPT: We’ve got time for one more question. Feel free to be as spoiler-rich or -avoidant as you want, but what can we expect from the rest of this story?

DJ: Well, in first chapter, we introduce a new character by the name of Gliana, who is a girl a couple years older than Jon, and apparently from another world. We’ll come to find out that she also has a rather unusual and extraordinary background, just like Jon, and I think the way they interact with one another will be a lot of fun. And that’s also going to take us in a vert fun direction. And between her and the fact that we are hinting at Doombreaker, which can only lead us one sort of way, as well as another new presence and threat that’s going to come, I think we’re going to have build out a fun and somewhat complicated story for everybody. And the visuals on it are absolutely fantastic. And Lee is continually pushing the boundary here a little bit. I think everyone’s going to really enjoy what they see and read.

LW: I’m just having the time of my life to get back into this and these characters. The one thing that keeps coming to me as I tried to depict Jon is that he’s got a little bit of Calvin in him, don’t you think? And I think that’s one of the charms that just makes it a lot of fun, and to try to bring as much of that without going too far over the line with it, but just that sensibility.

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