Thursday, July 8, 2010

Episode #133: Happy Birthday, Dan Jurgens!

Dan Jurgens was born on June 27, 1959, in Minnesota, where he still lives. He is a comic book writer and artist most famous for his work on the Superman titles of the early 1990's, and for creating the superhero Booster Gold.

His interest in comic books began with the 1960's Batman TV show. Dan's first comic book was Superman #189, and the first comic book story to make an impact on him was Robin Dies At Dawn, in Batman #156, June 1963.

Dan studied art in college and worked as a graphic designer. His career as a comic book artist began when he showed his portfolio to comic book writer and artist Mike Grell, at an appearance at a comic book shop. Grell was so impressed with Dan's art that he gave Jurgens his first comic book work, as penciller on Warlord #63, November 1982. Dan would continue as penciller on the title through issue # 91, March 1985. He also drew for a variety of other titles, including Sun Devils 8 and 9, which he also scripted, and Tales Of The Legion Of Super-Heroes 322 - 325.

Jurgens' creation, Booster Gold, first appeared in the first issue of his own title cover dated February 1986. This first Booster Gold series lasted through issue #25, February 1988.

Dan Jurgens first worked on a Superman story with The Adventures Of Superman Annuual #1, 1987. That annual introduced the Wordbringer, an alien who lived on a vast spaceship, and collected living brains from beings across outer space to live on his spaceship. Superman investigated the mysterious disappearance of the residents of Trudeau, North Dakota.

Jurgens also drew the Deadman story that appeared in Action Comics Weekly issues 601 - 612. he also drew the DC Flash Gordon comic book through issue 9.

Dan first worked on the monthly Superman titles with Superman #29 as writer and penciller, and Adventures Of Superman #452, both cover dated March 1989. He would be a member of the Superman creative team through Superman #150, November 1999. At the beginning of Dan's time as a Superman creator, Art Thibert served as his inker, but Brett Breeding would become his regular inker through most of Jurgens' time on the Superman titles. He also created the villains Doomsday and Cyborg, who would loom large in the Superman titles.

The Death Of Superman storyline was told in the Superman titles cover dated October and November 1992. Funeral For A Friend occurred in the Superman books cover dated January - June 1993, and Reign Of The Supermen was told in the Superman titles cover dated June - October 1993.

Jurgens also served as the penciller for the Armageddon 2001 event mini-series. He co-created the hero Waverider with writer Archie Goodwin. Dan also created Agent Liberty, who first appeared in Superman #60, October 1991. The character had his own special issue with Agent Liberty Special #1 in 1992.

Dan Jurgens wrote and pencilled the Zero Hour miniseries, cover dated September 1994. This series served as a mini-reboot of the DC Universe, the first since Crisis On Infinite Earths about eight years before.

In 1995 he wrote and laid out the Superman Vs. Aliens mini-series, and Kevin Nolan did the finished art.

Dan has also worked for Marvel. He pencilled the first six issues of The Sensational Spider-Man in 1996. Three years later Dan wrote and pencilled the single issue special Superman / Fantastic Four. He served as the original writer for the Tomb Raider series for Top Cow/Image the same year.

In 2000, Dan Jurgens wrote and laid out the Titans / Legion of Super-Heroes: Universe Ablaze mini-series. He also wrote scripts for the titel Aquaman from issu 63, January 200, thorugh issue 75, January 2001.

Dan Jurgens returned to the character Superman as writer and penciller for the Superman: Day Of Doom four issue mini-series, cover dated January 2003, ten years after the Death Of Superman story. The following year he pencilled a few issues of Legion, from issues 35 - 38, late September - late October 2004.

For Marvel, Dan Jurgens worked on the titles Captain America and Thor.

He also pencilled four issues of Solar, from issues 46 - 50, inked by Dick Giordano. With inker Tom Grinberg, Dan wrote and pencilled issues 51 - 54.

Back at DC, Dan Jurgens pencilled the first four issues of the mini-series Crisis Aftermath: The Battle For Bludhaven, and issue six, cover dated June and July 2006. This was Dan's opportunity to dwell in Batman's world.

For the weekly series 52, he wrote and pencilled the back issue feature History Of The DC Universe for issues 2 - 10. Dan also did the same for the next weekly series Countdown for issues 49 - 38 (this series counted down for the issue numbers) on the back issue feature History Of The Multiverse.

Dan Jurgens wrote and pencilled the six issue mini-series Metamorpho: Year One, cover dated December 2007 - late February 2008.

He returned to a new Booster Gold monthly series with a new #1 cover dated October 2007, and is serving as a writer and penciller.

Dan also worked on Superman again, of sorts, with the twelve issue mini-series Tangent: Superman's Reign, cover dated May 2008 - April 2009.

In several interviews that have been posted on the internet (links to which will be posted at the end of this episode), Dan said that he does not prefer writing or drawing, but sees both as different aspects of the same job. He is most prould of his work on Superman and Booster Gold, because they represent strides in his career. If he could pick any series to write and draw, it would be Green Lantern, because he has enjoyed the cosmic type of stories when he has had a chance to work on them. Finally, the only thing that has bothered him about how other creators have portrayed Booster Gold has been when some have shown him to be an idiot. He was not referring to the classic Justice League International Blue Beetle stories. Dan doesn't see Booster as a perfect hero, but as one who at times gets in his own way.

The featured Dan Jurgens story of this episode is the three issue mini-series Superman / Domsday: Hunter / Prey, cover dated April - June 1994. The story was collected in a trade paperback the following year. Dan Jurgens wrote the story and laid out the art. Brett Breeding finished the art, Bill Oakley did the lettering and Greg Wright was the colorist. This mini-series was collected in Superman: The Doomsday Wars, first published in 1998, and Superman / Doomsday Omnibus, published in 2006.

This story began with Clark Kent having a recurring dream. It started with a scene from his childhood, when he had to go into the dark basement. It ended with him as an adult facing Doomsday. Eventually he told Lois that he had to fly into space to find out where exactly Doomsday's body was, so that noone else would think to use Doomsday for their own ends.

Doomsday was found by a passing cargo ship heading toward the planet Apokolips. The crew realized too late what it was, and Doomsday killed the entire crew as the ship flew to its destination. The ship landed on Apokolips and Doomsday began wreaking havoc on Darkseid's troops.

Cyborg appeared, having hidden his intelligence on a small piece of electronic equipment attached to Doomsday's back. Cyborg created a new body from the body and armor of one of Darkseid's dead soldiers. He planned on taking over Apokolips after Doomsday had killed everyone on the planet. Darkseid monitored events, not yet taking any action, even though he knew exactly what Doosday was, an unkillable force.

Before leaving Earth, Superman met Matt Rider and Waverider and demanded to know how to defeat Domsday. They were hesitant at first, not wanting to change the future.

Darkseid finally entered the battle after Apokolips' weapons were no match for Doomsday, but was severely injured. DeSaad contacted Superman at JLA HQ, asking for help. A Motherbox teleported Superman to Apokolips, but he was unable to catch Doomsday before DeSaad used a boom tube to teleport Doomsday off planet.

Book II began with Waverider wrestling with his conscience about helping Superman.

The Man of Steel used his Motherbox to heal Darkseid from his injuries while Cyborg decimated Apokolips' forces. Superman was joined by Waverider, who tells Superman of Doomsday's origin.
In the uncounted past a geneticist worked at an installation on an extremely hostile planet. His team grew a clone and ejected it into the hostile environment, which was killed by the violent creatures that lived outside. The team would collect genetic material from the remains and create another clone. This process was repeated innumberable times over many decades until the Ultimate was created, Doomsday's original name. Not only did he survive the hostile environment, but he killed the violent creatures that attacked him.

The Ultimate turned his attention to the installation, and attacked it, murdering everyone inside. He boarded a supply ship and escaped the planet, spreading terror across outer space. He finally landed on the planet Calaton, and was defeated for the first time by the artificial being Radiant. The planet's survivors wrapped Doomsday in a green containment suit and bound his body in steel cables, sending his body to float in space. Eventually he crashed on Earth and was buried deep underground. That was where the Death Of Superman story began.

Darkseid recovered and used his Omega Beams to kill Cyborg. Superman discovered that DeSaad had sent Doomsday back to Caladon.

Issue III began with the revelation that Cyborg was not really dead, but his intelligence was imprisoned in a small globe, for Darkseid to use and control later.

A boom tube sent Superman and Waverider to Caladon, too late to stop Doomsday from finally killing Radiant. Superman battled Doosday, stopping him from destroying a power plant, but not before being injured.

Waverider used his power to link with Doomsday in an attempt to find a way to defeat him. He discovers that Doomsday sees Superman as his creator. Superman realizes that the reason for that is because Doosday was created on the primitive planet of Krypton. The remnants of the cloning facility was used by ancient Krypton to create their own cloning technology, as shown in the 1987 mini-series World Of Krypton.

The battle raged on, and Doomsday broke Superman's left arm, and threw him into the power plant, destroying it. The Man of Steel found Waverider's wristband, and used it to teleport himself and Doomsday to the end of time. Waverider recuperated in time to follow Superman and retreive him, leaving Doomsday at the end of time.

The Motherbox used the last of its power to heal Superman's arm and restore his traditional costume. Superman then returned to Lois.

In the story Superman: The Doomsday Wars Brainiac would retreive Doomsday from the end of time to use for his own ends, which involved the kidnapped infant of Pete and Lana Ross. This story was also collected in the Superman / Doosday Omnibus.

Next episode: Truth, Justice And All That Stuff!

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