Friday, January 26, 2018

Review: Action Comics #996

Action Comics #996 came out this week, the next chapter in the Booster Shot arc and probably my favorite chapter to date. While there is one enormous foreshadow dropped into this issue that made me cringe, for the most part I liked what I read. This definitely veers into the timey-wimey nature of the DCU as the solution to the evil we see in this issue is to go back in time and make it never happen to begin with. My mind is just too awash with possible futures right now to keep it all straight.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that Lois is truly a co-star in this book, taking up half the pages as she goes on her side mission to save her father, and showcasing everything she has to offer. Whether it is brains or physicality or just networking, this is the Lois that fans like me have been craving to see. So kudos to writer Dan Jurgens for giving us this little slice of heaven.

I also would love to pick Jurgens brain to see just how much of pre-Flashpoint DC history has been melded into this post-Rebirth post-Reborn continuity. We saw that Our Worlds At War happened, as seen in Supergirl. Is War of the Supermen also back in?

The art on the issue is done by Will Conrad and he brings a precise nature to the proceedings which work well. Whether it is an alien world, or the back of a cargo plane, or the dimly lit streets of a Logamba, his stuff really sparkles.

On to the book!

The book starts as a military cargo plane flies over Logamba at an altitude where radar can't ping them. It is all so Lois can slip out and parachute into the nation undetected. Little does she know that a guardian angel in the form of Jon is following her, making sure she is safe.

Throughout the last several decades, General Sam Lane has been portrayed in dim light. He's been a xenophobe, a fascist, a black ops leader, and even suicidal. I like that in this book, Jurgens isn't portraying him as pure evil. Lois wants to save him. Soldiers who have served under him  and respect him don't want to see him killed and are willing to risk their careers to help Lois. And she has connections to get her in touch with those people.

I do hope that we get a scene where Lois and Sam confront each other and talk of their differences.

Once on the ground, Lois is met by another friend and ally. This time it is a Logamban reporter who she inspired to use the press to eliminate oppressors.

As much as I love seeing Superman as an inspirational figure, I love seeing Lois in that same light. How great that she was able to reach this man, and be a role model for him because he saw in her this quest for justice.

Meanwhile, Superman and Booster Gold are on Jekuul, the planet that General Zod and Ursa have taken over and ruled for the last several decades. We saw them head there during the Revenge Squad storyline.  (Could Jekuul be a riff on Jekyll? Could Jurgens be hinting that this change is Hyde-like?)

It is clear that Zod has taken over exactly the way that you think he would. Statues of him, robot demanding that people kneel, and the threat of violence if you don't comply.

Anyways, Booster realizes the best way to stop this from happening is to repair the time bubble and head back in time is the best way to stop this history from ever forming.

But then Skeets drops a bomb. He hints about an Earth/Krypton war will happen. Is that avoidable? It has only been 8 years since New Krypton and War of the Supermen. Are we ready to revisit that already? I think New Krypton started out with promise but seemed to unravel at the end. I don't know if I'm ready to revisit an Earth/Krypton war again ...

What I do like is Superman's disgust over what has happened. And he responds rather physically. He is angry at what he sees. And he won't take it.

When Eradicators arrive to enforce the law, he literally shreds them. After the powerless time on Krypton and after seeing this planet turned into a slave world by his enemy, I'm not surprised he's angry.

I think this showcases Conrad's art nicely. You feel that rage.

 Back in Logamba, we see Lois proceeding on. The reporter takes her into the city where she is met by a woman in 'the order', I suppose some religious sect. Lois has helped the Logamban orphanages in the past and so has a friend in this woman.

Lois is put into a robe and is led to the palace in hopes of sneaking in to find her father. But when guards stop her, she breaks out some moves, knocking them out and grabbing an access card. This woman has led her where she needed to go.

How can you not love this aspect of the story?

Lois as super-spy, super-reporter, super-networker, and all around super-star. I love that Jon actually just sat back and watched his mother do all she needed to do. He didn't jump in right away. He has faith in her abilities.


But back on Jekuul, the heroes realize that they need alloys similar as those in the Eradicator droids to repair the Time Bubble. So they try to sneak in as 'prisoners' with Skeets running the Eradicator guard and floating camera-bot.

I like how Booster kind of takes charge here. Fixing time wrinkles is his business. And now they have two threads to tie off ... the rewritten Krypton history, with the populace leaving and now this New Krypton. This isn't the time to throw down with Zod. This is the time to skedattle and fix everything in the past. I'm not the biggest Booster fan. But between last issue's origin and this sort of 'take charge' attitude has elevated him a bit.

Time's Finest? Not bad.

But the best laid plans go awry. The actual Eradicator ... like *The* Eradicator ... shows up.

A brawl ensues. But what I like about this is how Superman concedes to Booster's plan. He yells to Booster to get the metals while he holds down the Eradicator. Because he realizes now that Booster is right. Booster is in charge. They just need to get out of there and fix things in the past.

But then we get another wrinkle, one we expected. Zod's son Lor-Zod arrives, saying he will get his revenge on the man who tormented him. And as this is a couple of decades in the future, Lor is a young man.

So how much history is there with Lor-Zod in the DCU? He does have some history with Superman; he says he was tormented by him. So did he spend some time as Superman's son as he did in the pre-Flashpoint days? I can't see where that would fit into the timeline with a 12 yr old Jon. Those two couldn't exist simultaneously as brothers, right? And how was he tormented?? That is a mystery I want to hear about.

I believe the last time we saw *that* Lor-Zod, Chris Kent, was the end of War of the Supermen, when he was young again (after his time as Nightwing) and back in the Zone with Mon-El.

I feel like I'm in a fog right now in the DCU's history. Hard to believe the New 52 would make things easier?? Especially when I wanted my DCU history to be back. Part of it is ... but which part?

Still, this was a good issue and a good chapter. I can only hope the Earth/Krypton war is only a feint. I'm not ready for that again.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

I loved this one too. I think you're worrying far too much about another earth/Krypton war, I'm guessing it was just a nod to Adventure Comics #333, which featured a war between Earth's Atlantis and Krypton.

I refuse to accept they could be dumping another protracted storyline on us!

Did you see the Dustin Nguyen cover?

Anonymous said...

"I can only hope the Earth/Krypton war is only a feint. I'm not ready for that again."

I, in fact, want New Krypton back in continuity.

Was it flawed? Of course. The execution squandered the premise's potential? Definitely. It dragged out and ended badly? Indeed. I dislike what it did to Lois' family? I do.

And still the good outweighs the bad, as far as I'm concerned. There were some good storylines and characters. The Superman Family was closer than they had been in a long while. Supergirl was a big player in the Superman books for first time in decades. Plus, the Gates/Igle run. If New Krypton is gone so is the most of that run, and I don't get why Supergirl's arguably best run must remain retconned out whereas some truly awful/dumb/idiotic Post-Crisis stuff can be brought back.

This said, this issue was a definite improvement after several subpar ones.

Anonymous said...

I'm not following Action Comics anymore. Does this arc somehow tie in with the Green Lanterns arc that just started where Zod, Ursa and Lor-Zod has claimed their own planet?