Dan Jurgens: Off on a Tangent

A comics interview article by: John Hays
Editor’s Note: In anticipation for the comeback of the Tangent Universe next month in DC’s Tangent: Superman’s Reign, Comics Bulletin had a chat with creators Dan Jurgens and Jamal Igle about the upcoming project. The first issue of the series is set to hit book shelves March 19th.

About a decade ago, a man named Dan Jurgens, along with various other creators, took us to another universe that was quite familiar, yet at the same time quite unfamiliar. Names we knew now belonged to quite different people. Flash rode light waves, Green Lantern resurrected the dead, and Superman…well Superman was something altogether unique.

Now the Tangent Universe has returned, and along with the universe and its characters comes its founder, Dan Jurgens, to turn the page on the next chapter in a slightly different story.

John Hays: Hi Dan, I hope you’re doing well.

You’ve created a really rich array of characters for DC through the years, including Booster Gold, Waverider, Doomsday, The Cyborg Superman, etc…what’s it like seeing these characters you create for a particular storyline have such a long lifespan, and often such a profound effect on the DCU?

Dan Jurgens: It’s fun as well as quite a compliment. But it’s nice to think that, as a creator, you’ve made a contribution that can last.

JH: You’ve certainly done that. Are there particular characters that you created who have really surprised you in how they’ve changed?

DJ: Actually, I’m more surprised that some of them haven’t changed. Take Booster, for example. Over the past few years there has been a great tendency to substantially alter characters when they’re brought back and given a title again. Blue Beetle, Warlord and Firestorm are examples of characters that once had their own books and went through some major changes when they returned.

JH: To varying degrees of success.

DJ: Booster is essentially the same. I don’t think it’s any secret that has contributed to the book’s success. Most characters are better off when following their original blueprint.

JH: I couldn’t agree more!

DJ: As for The Cyborg-Superman, it’s great seeing him involved in the Green Lantern stuff. It’s cool that he’s major enough and elastic enough to do so.

JH: Yeah, it’s not every day that you see a major villain make a permanent shift from being associated with one character to another like that. Now, with regard to the Tangent line, how does it feel to revisit characters you created a decade ago that have, for the most part, been on the shelf since then?

DJ: First of all, I wasn’t the only creator involved in the first Tangent efforts. I came up with the concept, wrote the general “bible” regarding the Tangent Universe and put together the initial character lineups, but a lot of writers and artists made great contributions.

JH: Very true!

DJ: It’s nice to have the opportunity to bring the characters back. We’d always hoped to do more and it’s great to have the opportunity to do so while also lining them up with the DCU characters.

JH: Tangent has been compared to Watchmen because of the huge effect superhero involvement has on the Earth in each case. That being said, how much were you influenced by Watchmen for the Tangent line, if at all?

DJ: I don’t think there’s necessarily a strong comparison to be made between the two. Watchmen was a very distinct piece of work that set out to tell a very particular story. The Tangent books were an attempt to create a very distinct world, one heavily influenced by the presence of super powered beings while being very different from the DCU.

While I greatly admire Watchmen I don’t really think of it as an influence.

JH: In the original storyline, you played around with some actual historical events. Will we be seeing more of that this time around? Is the idea of someone bringing peace to the world at the cost of personal freedoms perhaps a hint of that?

DJ: I don’t think you’ll see as many actual historical events and elements because we’ve already shown the crucial instances that made the Tangent universe different from our own reality. We’re going to focus on the present.

As for notion of peace relative to the cost of personal freedoms, well, that’s certainly something to explore. Some obvious parallels can be drawn between our own condition and that which exists on Earth Tangent.

JH: As long as we still have Florida, I’m good!

With Infinite Crisis recreating its own new Multiverse, is Earth 9 the same Tangent-Earth as its predecessor, or have there been some changes?

DJ: No changes. It’s very much consistent with what was seen when the books first came out as well as the current trade paperbacks.

JH: In the original Tangent storyline, Green Lantern’s lantern could bring the dead back to life. Now it seems to serve as a dimensional portal. Will changes like this be explained, or is it simply another effect of Infinite Crisis?

DJ: We will probably land somewhere in between on that. I love the mysterious nature of the Tangent GL and in order to keep that intact, would not want to necessarily give too much away. I do think it is all consistent with the original concept of the character, however.

JH: That’s great. Always fun to have a bit of mystery. In Countdown: Arena, Flash is portrayed as a rather devious and ruthless character. Is this in line with her portrayal here, and where does that story fit into this timeline?

DJ: Sorry, I haven’t seen the Countdown: Arena story yet so it’s pretty hard to comment.

JH: Better get on that! Dan Didio’s been vocal about how Final Crisis will be self contained, yet you’ve stated previously that this mini series will factor into it. Can you provide any more information as to the connection between the two, or is it merely tangential?

DJ: Wouldn’t it be completely appropriate to be a Tangential connection?

JH: That’s what I thought you’d say. With the upcoming miniseries that intermixes the Wildstorm and mainstream DC universes, it’s been said that it will primarily affect the Wildstorm universe, not the DCU. Is this the case here, or will this story have a major effect on the DCU proper?

DJ: I think it’s fair to say that this story will have a greater impact on the Tangent Universe as that’s where most of it will take place.

JH: Fair enough. The name of Ron Marz has been added to the writing credits for the second issue. Can you explain how he was brought in, and what his contribution will be to the story?

DJ: Ron is actually working on the first issue as well.

When we first started working on this project, then-editor Eddie Berganza and I realized we were asking readers to remember a great deal of a series that was done ten years ago. As such, we decided to put a backup in each issue that would help cover the characters and some of Earth-Tangent’s history. Since Ron worked on Tangent back then and has a great grasp of the characters, we gave him a call.

JH: That’s also helpful for those who haven’t read the original storyline. I see that the art will be provided by Matt Clark, Fernando Pasarin and Jesse Delperdang with covers by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino, but will we get to see any of your art grace this mini series?

DJ: If I have the time I would love to be able to contribute artistically. It was always part of the plan but Booster Gold is keeping me busy enough that I don’t know if I’ll be able to do so.

JH: Yes, Booster Gold, what a character. Geoff Johns has announced that he will be leaving Booster Gold sometime this year. Will that have any effect on your status on the title?

DJ: We’re in the midst of kicking around different ideas regarding that. My status will be determined by a number of factors, such as when Geoff wants to leave, what DC might want the book to become and where they want it to go. The book is a success and more than anything, we all want to maintain that success.

JH: I definitely hope it works out because I love the title. To take another tangent, if you will, one of your other original characters, Waverider, took a turn for the worse in the 52 event. Do you know his current status?

DJ: I do. And I believe you’ll see more on that down the road.

JH: Would that be in a title you’re involved with?

DJ: Without giving too much away, that’d be something of a natural, wouldn’t it?

JH: Awesome! Well, it’s been a pleasure, and I hope 2008 is your biggest year yet! Thanks Dan!

DJ: You’re welcome! Heck, ’07 was so good I’d be satisfied with just equaling that again!

Stay tuned for part two of this discussion of the series with artist Jamal Igle tomorrow.

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