Tag Archives: Dan Jurgens

Today’s Super Comics — Zero Hour #4-0 (1994)

zero-hour-4Zero Hour was the first company-wide crossover event I read, and the scope was suitably epic.

The superheroes of the DC Universe need to band together to save time itself, which is rapidly unraveling, creating all sorts of mysterious (and entertaining) anomalies. A young Batgirl in her prime appears in Gotham. People randomly disappear as their timelines are wiped out. The elder statesmen of the Justice Society of America stage a heroic last stand.

And at the center of it all is a classic DC superhero gone rogue. (Spoilers ahead, since I can’t really discuss this one without revealing the big bad.)

The most amazing part for me, when I read this at the age of 11, was the reveal of the villain. In the final pages of the penultimate issue, a green glowing fist clocks Superman, knocking him out cold, and then we see Hal Jordan, the definitive Green Lantern since the 1959, standing over him, taking credit for orchestrating this whole crisis in time.

It blew my young mind—the idea of a hero of this stature being the bad guy. And Green Lantern, now calling himself Parallax, is utterly convinced he’s in the right, which is an important ingredient in any great villain. He’s fixing time and removing all the mistakes. Basically, he’s playing God to bring about a utopian vision. And that never goes well.

It’s no work of literature, but it thrilled me back in the day. It lacks a central protagonist, but lots of great characters have their moments, especially Green Arrow in the final faceoff against his old friend. The Flash also gets a big heroic moment early in the series.

By the way, the numbering for this miniseries goes backward. So the first issue is #4, second is #3, and so on. It’s a countdown to the end of time. Happy New Year’s Eve.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Jerry Ordway

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman #76 (1993)

superman_v-2_76The Death of Superman storyline was a missed opportunity. Ample media coverage got tons of people interested, people who didn’t normally read comics. The whole world was watching. This was DC Comics’ chance to prove that comics could be more than musclebound men punching each other to death.

And how did they choose to kill of Superman? By having him and a monster punch each other until they both fell. Ugh.

But when it came to the events after the death, the Superman creative teams knew exactly what they were doing. They understood the real meat of the story wasn’t the death itself, but other characters’ reactions to a world that no longer had Superman in it. The Funeral for a Friend arc, followed by Reign of the Supermen, defined Superman through his absence, demonstrating just how irreplaceable and inspirational the character can be. And this was during a time when characters like the Punisher and Spawn were gaining in popularity, so taking time to reflect on what makes the original superhero super was indeed warranted. (It still is.)

Superman #76 occurs in the middle of the funeral storyline, shortly after the funeral itself. The Justice League honors Superman’s memory by carrying on one of his Christmas traditions—reading letters written to Superman seeking his aid, and helping as many of these people as they can, even though not a single plea involves pounding a super-villain into submission.

Meanwhile, the only civilians who know Superman’s identity—the Kents, Lois Lane, and Lana Lang—share their grief and discuss whether to reveal Clark’s secret. Jimmy Olsen bonds with a teenager who was saved by Superman during that final battle and is experiencing survivor’s guilt. Attention-seekers try to capitalize on the national mourning. And nefarious scoundrels steal Superman’s body (had to be something comic booky in there).

It’s a shame most people stopped reading after Superman and Doomsday punched each other out.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Brett Breeding

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in World Without a Superman (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Booster Gold #1 (2007)

booster-gold-1Booster Gold resembles the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow closer than any book I can think of. It’s a time-travel series in which Rip Hunter guides his carefully selected superhero through DC’s history so they can repair damage to the timeline.

But this series has something the television show has lacked so far—a compelling character hook.

Booster Gold has always been a superhero who craved celebrity status. He performed good deeds first for the glory, and later he grew into the role. But even Booster at his most mature and heroic still wants to be admired and appreciated. And that makes him perfect for this book’s premise.

In order to stealthily save the timestream, Rip informs him, Booster needs to “go down in history as an ineffectual and incompetent fraud when in reality [he’ll] be the greatest hero history has never known.”

So, for the sake of the world as we know it, an egotistical superhero needs to sacrifice not only his present-day reputation, but also his own historical record for all time. That is a fantastic premise, and a guest appearance by the Justice League shows us just how painful this is to Booster. But he tries to do the right thing anyway.

This is a wonderful example of teaming up the right story with the right character.

Writers: Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz

Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Norm Rapmund

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Booster Gold vol. 1: 52 Pick-Up (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #476 (1991)

Adventures_of_Superman_476Early ‘90s Superman comics probably won’t go down as among the all-time greats, but they sure are reliably fun.

The Adventures of Superman #476 kicks off a time-traveling epic called “Time and Time Again.” Superman has just recently revealed his secret identity to Lois Lane (they’re engaged at this point), and as they’re adjusting to this new dynamic in their relationship, special guest star Booster Gold literally drops out of the sky. Time for both Supes and Lois to get to work.

In trying to help out his colleague, Superman winds up flung through time, and his first stop brings him to additional guest stars who are always nice to see.

Time-travel is a useful device for pulling Superman out of his usual element, and it allows him to embark on an archetypal “hero must find his way home” story, which generally is a bit harder to facilitate with a flying, super-fast protagonist.

A good time for Superman fans young and old.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Brett Breeding

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Superman: Time and Time Again (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Booster Gold #6 (1986)

Booster_Gold_6I’ve always had a soft spot for Booster Gold. And if you’re not a regular comic reader, you’re probably asking, “Booster who? What?”

Booster Gold debuted in the mid-80s, and creator/writer/artist Dan Jurgens immediately distinguished him from the rest of DC’s superhero lineup. While most superheroes save the day for altruistic reasons or to avenge loved ones, Booster is pretty much in it for his own glory at first. He wants to be rich, famous, and adored. His path to doing so just happens to be crimefighting, but he’s totally comfortable marketing his likeness as any popular athlete would.

Jurgens could easily have misfired with this. (Well, the series lasted all of two years, so perhaps it was a misfire anyway. But the character was a creative success, and Booster has continued to play a role in the DC Universe ever since.) Booster could have come across as overly selfish and unlikeable—and at times he absolutely does—but beneath all the product endorsements and preoccupation with image, he’s a guy who truly wants to be the best superhero he can be.

As we learn in #6, his origin issue, Booster’s past is not one to be proud of. He starts from a very low point, and he’s determined to become something better.

To drive home just how un-heroic Booster initially appears, the big man himself, Superman, shows up and heaps considerable judgment upon the titular showboat. The two make for excellent foils.

Some heroes are born great, and others have to work hard at it. The latter is often the more interesting approach, and that’s what makes Booster Gold a somewhat hidden gem among DC’s cast.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Mike De Carlo

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up