Monday, December 18, 2017

Review: Action Comics #993

Action Comics #993 came out last week, the second part of an arc where Superman goes back in time to investigate Krypton's destruction and the first part of the story 'Booster Shot' guest starring Booster Gold. After all, who messed with time to pluck Mr. Oz/Jor-El away?

I have never been a huge fan of Booster Gold. And I have never really been a huge fan of stories where Superman visits Krypton before its destruction. There are always too many questions that need to be answered. Does he lose his powers immediately? Or do they gradually wear off? How does he get off Krypton if he is powerless? And what is he hoping to get out of such a visit?

And so I enter this story already a bit on edge. At the very least, this Superman is only hoping to get a peek at Krypton's destruction from afar and only ends up on the ground because of a glitch.

But to add to the mix, there is a continuity error in this book which I feel is almost unforgivable. And that also sort of soured me. Writer Dan Jurgens should know better. But the editor should definitely know better. It may end up being that 'Rebirth' or 'Reborn' has changed things. Or maybe some of the anomalies we see here are new truths. But if it has no one but DC knows it.

Jurgens is also on art with Joe Prado inking which gives this issue a very classic feel to it.

There is a long way to go in this arc and maybe it'll grab me a bit more moving forward.

The book starts where last issue ended. Booster Gold appears in the JLA headquarters to try to stop Superman from going back in time. But he arrives too late. Superman has already used the Cosmic Treadmill to head back to Krypton's destruction.

As he is trying to see what point was last entered on the treadmill, the Flash shows up. So, of course, the two have to fight. Flash, probably given what he knows about Flashpoint, doesn't want anyone playing with time. Luckily Booster defeats Barry so he can track Superman.

This seemed a bit too much of a trope to feel necessary. Don't these two know each other. Couldn't they just discuss it. And can Booster really defeat the Flash?

Anyways, we see that Booster is still a media hound, telling Skeets to upload video of his beating the Flash on all social media networks.

I just can't latch onto Booster. None of his antics amuse me.

Meanwhile Superman does get to peek out onto Krypton. But a sudden chronal storm buffets him so he sees a couple of different versions of history play out in an almost 'Hypertime' looking 2 page spread.

He immediately sees what he thinks is the truth. Only "one ship was ever built ... mine." To him, history says only one ship rocketed off Krypton.

But unless things have changed, that's wrong.

Because in the New 52, which is still the backbone of the continuity, Supergirl was also rocketed off Krypton. It's just that her rocket got delayed in reaching Earth and she remained in suspended animation. Heck, that is the origin the show uses.

Here are a couple of panels from Supergirl #0 from the New 52 and my review: 

Seriously, the editor of the Super-books should be aware of the histories of the major players. Unless things have changed and they haven't told us. While Argo City did survive a bit, Kara was long gone.

I'm sorry. This irked me.

I will say, the other half of the splash did intrigue me. Here is where I think we see other histories or timelines.

In one we see a fleet of space arks head off Krypton. In another, Superman grows up on Krypton. We see a black haired woman wearing an S-shield? A Goth Kara? Or did Superman marry Ursa? Is that Kal's sister? And in one, we see Superman palling around with Zod.

At least those are my reads on these possibilities. It really does feel like Hypertime. And I think puzzles like these are fun to try to unravel.

Regardless, the visions end and Superman finds himself on Krypton.

I don't know. Can I just be tired of this story?

Meanwhile, if anything cements my sort of blase attitude about Booster Gold it is that he is Steve Lombard's favorite superhero. Only a poser would hero worship a sort of poser.

Maybe that is too harsh.

But I do find it interesting that the blowhard and narcissist Lombard likes a self-promoter like Gold. And I doubly love Jon wanting nothing to do with it.

And in another subplot, Jon overhears Perry and Lois talking about his grandfather General Lane.

Sam was leading a black ops team into Logambo (the nation in civil war turmoil in The Oz Effect) and was captured. The US Government has plausible deniability. A public execution has been scheduled.

No doubt what is happening next. Jon is going to try to free his estranged grandfather from certain death.

I don't think Jon has met him before so this will be very interesting. And I don't think Sam knows Clark is Superman so this could be doubly captivating.

Meanwhile, back on Krypton, Superman just happens to land in a spot near where Zod and Jor-El are meeting. I suppose whatever caused the chronal storm and whatever shoved him planet-side probably purposefully dropped him off here. I do hope we get that backstory.

Superman is surprised to see the two working together. I don't know how long before the planet blowing up this is. Shouldn't Zod be in the Phantom Zone?

Or is this another timeline completely?

I don't know if this Jor-El physically looks like the one we saw in Mr. Oz's origin.

Anyways, Superman is seen skulking around. Kryptonian police must shoot first and ask questions later. And, of course, he is powerless under the red sun of Krypton, something he shouldn't be surprised about.

So it might be up to Booster to save the day. Will we get an explanation why Krypton's gravity doesn't effect him? Legion flight ring I suppose.

Okay, I shouldn't be flippant. I just have read so many 'time travel back to Krypton' stories that if you retread it has to be exceptional. And yes, I realize that this is probably a lot of people's first 'time travel back to Krypton' storyline so maybe I should look it from their viewpoint.

But between the forced Flash-fight, the overlooked Supergirl origin, and the return to Krypton, I sort of winced my way through this. The other histories look interesting. Now that we are here maybe the plot will blossom.

I can hope.

Overall grade: C


Anonymous said...

"But to add to the mix, there is a continuity error in this book which I feel is almost unforgivable. And that also sort of soured me."

It most definitely soured me. It doesn't help the rest of the history is average at best.

And I've officially lost my patience. I've tried to be patient, I waited for one year and half to see Supergirl fully integrated into the Super-verse and the rest of the DCU. "Escape from the Phantom Zone" and "Revenge" raised my hopes, but they were quickly dashed. I mean, I don't expect Kara show up everywhere every month, but if you write a story arc where Jor-El reappears to retrieve his family or where the last days of Krypton are revisited or a series of flashbacks retelling Superman's life then I definitely expect her to show up.

But then we have this "Kal-El was the only to make it alive off of the planet" scene. What is this, 1986? Oh, and thank you for forgetting about Krypto, too.

Honestly, I can't believe I'm missing the New 52; but back then Supergirl interacted with her cousin and other heroes, made appearances out of her own book and became a Leaguer.

Well, I got fed up with it. Warn me when Supergirl stops being irrelevant in the DCU. Until then I'll not bother me reading the Superman core books.

"Okay, I shouldn't be flippant. I just have read so many 'time travel back to Krypton' stories that if you retread it has to be exceptional."

I'm wondering which was the first one. "Return to Krypton" by Jerry Siegel? Although I think Superman found out about Krypton back in 1949 (what is funny because should Siegel and Shuster have got their way, he had discovered his origins in 1940). Was it time travel or something else?

Regardless that... yes, the rest of the story was mediocre.

Nevertheless, I'm wondering what is with Sam Lane. "Our Worlds at War" is back in continuity, but Lois has mentioned nothing about him "dying" (and I doubt "New Krypton" is still canon). If my memory is right, the Wedding issue was the last time Jurgens wrote Sam Lane. Back then Lane was a complicated character rather a genocidal, xenophobic monster with a grudge. So, how will he be portrayed?

Sigh. I want New Krypton back in continuity, even if it's only because Gates/Igle's run would be canon again.

Martin Gray said...

Hmm, have you asked Dan Jurgens on Twitter, given how approachable he is? Maybe they're tweaking Kara's origin back to the original, with Argo being shot off into space and Kara being born there. If so, that's a (terrific) major change that should be shown in Supergirl's own comic the next time the origin is recapped, rather than implied here first.

Anyway, I liked this loads more than you, being a Booster fan. He was rarely as shallow in his own books* as in JLI, so I can forgive the odd social media nonsense.

Totally agree on the battle with Barry, and that's a Flash Fact.

*The post-52 Johns/Katz series was fascinating, if you can find it in the library, try it.

Anonymous said...

First anonymous here:

"Hmm, have you asked Dan Jurgens on Twitter, given how approachable he is? Maybe they're tweaking Kara's origin back to the original, with Argo being shot off into space and Kara being born there."

I doubt it. I'd bet they just don't care.

Anyway, I think that black-haired S-wearing woman is one alternate timeline where Kal was born female. Observe her belt and the fact that an older Alura standing by her side.

Anonymous said...

I am happy I dropped Action Comics last issue. If I had paid for another issue where Jurgens does history revisionism to put Kara into the fridge I would have flipped. Is Eddie Berganza editing Action Comics, is this some kind of last laugh of male privilege BS before he was kicked out? *sigh* This angers me even though I am not paying for it. I know there's supposed to be some rule against that but I can't help it. Dan clearly wants a Superman self title. DC should put him there and get him away from Action Comics.

Anonymous said...

A problem with this is also that it isn't just throwing Supergirl under the wagon. As a big lover of Superman this also throws him under the bus. Superman comes across as a real douche who doesn't recognize that his cousin might have something valuable to contribute. He comes across as an even bigger ass deciding to travel in time, risking the history of the whole world to sate some curiosity. Completely acting like Kara never existed and putting himself on the pedestal is not only unbecoming, but forces me to discard the whole arc mentally as none-canon, making it a pointless story as a Superman fan as well.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 wrote:

"Escape from the Phantom Zone" and "Revenge" raised my hopes, but they were quickly dashed..."

Do you mean because of the crossover with Batgirl Annual #1?

I didn't even know about the Revenge arc till the other day. Guess I'll pick up the back issues, cause I don't think it's out in TPB yet. How did I miss it? I think no issue of Revenge mentions Supergirl in the solicits, and my local comic store never tells me about crossover/guest appearances.

My best bet is to read this site regularly!

Anonymous said...

"Do you mean because of the crossover with Batgirl Annual #1?"

Yes. I mean, Supergirl (Kara) and Batgirl (Barbara) are meeting for first time since the COIE (previously it was another Sueprgirl, another Batgirl, or Barbara was Oracle) and befriending each other. It had to be a good sign, right? RIGHT?

"I didn't even know about the Revenge arc till the other day."

AC #979-984. She shows up in two covers and has several good scenes. It got me into thinking Jurgens get the character and can write her right.

Now... I'm not sure.

I heard he actually wanted to turn AC into a kind of super-team book, but now... I don't know...

"My best bet is to read this site regularly!"


By the way, Anj, have you already seen the November's sales?

Anj said...

I suppose asking Jurgens makes perfect sense.

Maybe I should do that!

And yes, saw sales! Hooray!

Anonymous said...

I much preferred the last issue compared with this one. Better dialogue for one thanks to Rob Williams and a better understanding of Superman's motives for going back in time. Here Superman comes off as a risk taker travelling back in time alone without seeking help. And not realising he'd be powerless under Krypton's red sun without protection is an equally short sighted move. Jurgens should be a better writer than this, like your problem with Jurgens' dialogue that only ship was made to escape Krypton when the New 52 origin for Supergirl is still in canon.

I like Jurgens' writing and I really liked Revenge since that arc was brought up in the comments. But this arc is off to an average start. Still great to see Jurgens' pencil art in this issue, brings back memories of reading his earlier comics.


Anonymous said...

On another note: What is everyone's favorite Supergirl arc with time travel? Is it one of the fun and corny silver age tales when she creates the american flag or one of the newer ones?

I think mine might be the Way of the World. It was powerful to see how much it hurt her to not be able stop a child from dying. How she spent decades in space alone for the chance to change everything wrong in the world, only to come to the realization that writing history can't be up to one person.

Anonymous said...

If you're talking about Supergirl sales, surely sales reflect the progressively better covers.

Artgerm thinks 17B will be:

He had posted an earlier version and took some fan feedback to tweak it. The first version:

He also writes:

"After this I will be launching a new set of covers which I will redraw some of the iconic Supergirl costumes in the history."

Makes me think of Superman/Batman 24 & 25, some terrific renderings of multiple versions at once.

Does Brave & Bold 2007 #3 count as a costume? Supergirl in a motorcycle jacket and sunglasses. That would be amazing to see on a cover. Don't know how that would translate into sales though.

Uncle Screensaver said...

I honestly couldn’t finish this. I love Booster and the art but the “one rocket” ticked me off, and overall it was just so mediocre. The only thing good about the Flash cameo is that he wasn’t drawn with the busy lightning details all over his costume. I don’t really like back to Krypton stories myself, but I’ll just read them but I just couldn’t with this. I can generally read any Super story, so I was kind of surprised that I just didn’t have the desire to do so. Oh, as for Jurgens with Kara, he did bring “her” back with Supergirl 2999 and Superman/ Aliens (and had wanted a sequel starring her - or, at least, addressing what happened to her afterward,) so at one time he seemed to have liked her.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

I would suspect that Superman's case of "I Me Mine" and the neglect of Supergirl in general is a matter of "out of sight, out of mind". Unless Kara specifically factors into a Superman story, the writers tend to forget about her. And Jurgens got his start on Superman during the Kara-never-existed era, so maybe he still has that "Superman was the sole survivor" shtick in the back of his mind. Not that that's any excuse for leaving Kara out of the mix.

When Zor-El was killed, I expected Supergirl to have a part in the Mr. Oz story, but it didn't happen. Orlando and Houser will probably deal with it eventually, but it should have been a reason to bring Kara into Action Comics.

Anonymous said...

Characters were observing temporal/chrono changes even in Action #992, and Superman is seeing contradictory things in #993 in his visions near/on Krypton, so... it's possible Kara has only been forgotten due to a massive timeline disruption that will be restored. In effect, a disruption back to Sole Survivor of Krypton, but it will be temporary. Just a thought.

It just doesn't seem plausible that Jurgens has forgotten about Kara, who has landed on Earth twice since 2004. But maybe he is just messing with us...

He's messing with us in other ways. He created Booster Gold, and that scene with Lombard seems to be him making fun of himself. Booster is "the greatest hero you never heard of." Making fun of his lesser-known creation? Or trying to promote Booster Gold? Or a bit of both.

The montage of scenes on Krypton - kind of strange panels. Superman may be "with his parents" but his back is towards them. Are he and Zod palling around? They too aren't facing each other. His presence in these panels may be merely a depiction of himself as an observer.

Superman observes there was supposedly no space travel, yet he saw a whole fleet of ships, and comments on the space port.

The whole thing seems hallucinatory, a dream where nothing makes sense.

In #992 - On Mogo, Superman does say "I need to know that only ONE ship escaped." That may be the first problem re: the missing Kara. And they do see just one ship escaping on the viewscreen recording. BUT: right after that they see there's something wrong with the file, that someone tampered with it -- No, more than just that, they decide something tampered with time.

How long has timeline been altered? (I guess the answer should be "forever", but let's ignore that. I mean "how long" in the story.) Has Kara never been depicted during this altered timeline? If she has been - then Jurgens has messed up, accidentally or on purpose. (If he leaves DC soon, then we'll know this was an act of deliberate sabotage.) If not - then all of this including Superman's memory that his is the only rocket that escaped is possibly an altered memory.

I've read worse. No DC comic that deals with altered timelines or universes makes sense, thus requiring reboots or retcons to try to fix the problems, which only create more problems.