DC's Action Comics is reverting back to its original numbering with this week's #957, but the book's getting a brand new approach as it starts shipping twice-monthly and ramps up the "action" part of the comic's title.
Series writer Dan Jurgens is picking up threads from DC Universe: Rebirth #1 (including, eventually, the mysterious Mr. Oz), the "New 52" Superman title, his recent Superman: Lois & Clark series, as well as - in a way - his original 1990s run with the Man of Steel with the return of Doomsday... although it's not clear which version of Doomsday this is.
At the same time, Superman will be dealing with his arch-enemy Lex Luthor, who's now sporting a super-suit and (allegedly) fighting on the side of good.
Spinning out of the events of Rebirth, Action Comics will star the post-Crisis Superman who is married to Lois Lane and has a superpowered son named Jonathan Kent. He became this world's primary Superman after the Clark Kent from DC's current "New 52" universe died in May's Superman #52.
But did he die? Action Comics will also introduce a mysterious new Clark Kent who suddenly shows up at The Daily Planet. Is he the resurrected "New 52" Superman? Or is there something else at play here?
It's a lot to juggle for the relaunching comic, but Jurgens gets two issues a month to tell the concurrent storylines. He'll be working with artists Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham and Stephen Segovia.
Newsarama talked to Jurgens to find out more about his plans for Action Comics, how the comic follows up on Rebirth and what readers can expect from Superman versus Doomsday, this time around.
Newsarama: Dan, now that we know the "New 52" Superman is dead, it's very confusing that there's a Clark Kent and the post-Crisis Superman both in your comic. Care to shed some light on what that means?
Dan Jurgens: It may sound confusing and some of that will come through in the story. This is an unexpected development that mystifies Superman, Lois, Luthor and everyone watching because they all presumed Clark died when the "New 52" Superman died.
Nrama: Is the appearance of Clark Kent tied to the Doomsday story you're telling?
Jurgens: Those are going to develop into two, separate storylines.
Doomsday is part of one story, the mysterious new Clark another.
Nrama: One of the upcoming covers doesn't look good for this new Clark Kent. Is he short for this world?
Jurgens: Ha! I hate to do this, but that’s one of those, “You’ll have to read the actual story,” type of answers.
Seriously though, there is a long heritage of truly classic Superman & Clark Kent covers on the various Superman titles and I think this is just the latest. They all posed the basic question: How can this be happening?
Nrama: Geoff's DC Universe: Rebirth #1 issue also indicated that Mr. Oz is still watching Superman. How will that story thread be picked up in your book?
Jurgens: Readers will see a little bit of Mr. Oz, but we aren’t about to provide answers on that yet. It’s pretty clear that he has tremendous access to Superman’s life, however. And that can come with its own complications.
Nrama: Mr. Oz said that Superman and his family are not what they "believe" they are. Where will that part of the story be followed up?
Jurgens: That’s something that will play out over the Superman titles for a while.
But the question might well be, "Is Mr. Oz right about everything?"
Nrama: We've also learned that the Watchmen universe is responsible for some of the timeline issues introduced in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. What effect will that revelation have on the world of Superman?
Jurgens: Right now, we’re really focusing on the main characters and how they interact. Right now, there is no immediate payoff. They all believe they’re exactly where they belong.
Nrama: Rebirth showed that Wally West was recognized by Barry Allen, and his history was sort of incorporated into the history of the "New 52" Flash characters. Is something similar going to happen to post-Crisis Superman now? Anything you can say about why or why not?
Jurgens: This Superman clearly came from a different universe so would already have memories of what he saw there.
That’s a very different situation from the Wally/Barry moment.
Nrama: What's Lex Luthor's role in this title, wearing this new super suit?
Jurgens: Lex sees himself as Superman’s successor.
That plan is clearly upended when a new Superman shows up. One way or another, it seems Lex Luthor and Superman always fall into conflict. They question would be, where does he go with it?
Nrama: We've seen this Superman defeated by Doomsday before — and you had a hand in telling that story last time. But assuming this is a new Doomsday for him (the "New 52" version?), will he know how to handle it?
Jurgens: Is it a new Doomsday?
Or one he’s met previously?
Nrama: Oh, man, now you're getting tricky.
Jurgens: In any case, Superman clearly has the experience of having faced him before. Using a different approach to beat him is a key part of the story.
Nrama: How does Wonder Woman get involved, and what's her reaction going to be to this new/old Superman, since she's had a relationship with his doppleganger?
Jurgens: I think fans will be a bit surprised when they see Diana’s reaction to Superman. Might not be what they expect.
Nrama: How does the twice-monthly shipping schedule change your approach to the story?
Jurgens: The name of the comic is Action Comics and the twice monthly schedule really allows us to push that to the limit. It’s a very fast-paced story that really takes place in just a day or so.
Nrama: Upcoming solicitations mention the "mystery of Black Zero." We've seen that name before in comic books — is this mystery connected to any of those previous events/characters?
Jurgens: It’s a great name, but that doesn’t necessarily imply any kind of connection to what we saw before.
Nrama: I had a feeling you'd say that. Let's talk about other connections. We've talked to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason about the Superman title. How does this stand apart from what they're doing?
Jurgens: The Superman title will work off some of the elements I set up in Superman: Lois and Clark, which introduced the concept of how Lois, Clark and Jon all came to be here, the nature of their existence and what Superman’s overall mission is.
As I mentioned earlier, the name of this book is Action Comics. With that in mind, I’m really intent on pushing that aspect of the book, especially in the very beginning, though you’ll certainly see Lois and Jon as well.
Nrama: Will the Superman books deal with each other in the next few months and share mysteries?
Jurgens: Yes. We’re each starting with our own stories, but I think we want to make sure all our characters are portrayed consistently across the titles.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Dan, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Action Comics?
Jurgens: Only that we’re having great fun. I think we have plenty of surprises, both for new and longtime Superman fans.