Friday, March 2, 2018

Review: Action Comics #998

Action Comics #998 came out this week, ending the Booster Shot storyline and bringing the end of the Dan Jurgens run on the book that much closer. With Brian Michael Bendis' run just around the corner, I am glad that Jurgens is able to finish up some of his storylines. And this chapter brings this story to a decent close, although I suppose we'll have to see what happens in the next couple of months to see if it how it truly wraps up.

I have never been a big fan of Booster Gold and here, at least, we get a sense of how much weight must be on his shoulders. With access to time travel, he is probably tempted to try and change things. We see how much self-resolve he has to resist that temptation.

That said, the nature of time travel never quite makes sense to me which is why I find these stories a bit vexing. Throughout the story, Booster says that events in the past are more concrete and cannot be changed. Meanwhile future events are more malleable. But what is 'past' and what is 'future'? Our future is someone else's past. Sigh. I guess I just have to roll with it.

And this story for the most part takes place in the future. So while Superman and Booster are able to escape a heinous situation, the real question is will Superman change that future now. Is there an issue where Zod's control of a planet is addressed now? Or do I have to read Green Lantern?

The art on the issue is done by Will Conrad and he brings a slick precise style to the proceedings. I wouldn't mind seeing Conrad on a monthly book. His stuff is great.

On to the book.

Last issue Booster and Superman were captured and put on a St. Andrew's Cross for execution. Despite having ruled for decades, the Zod family thought a public killing would be necessary to keep the populace under their thumb. With Skeets crushed under foot, the duo are about the be fried by heat vision.

I still don't know why Zod wouldn't just kill them both immediately. And I still have to wonder why the Zod's would keep Kryptonite, the one thing that could harm them, on the planet.

But there we are.

It turns out that Skeets had downloaded himself into one of the Eradicator robot army. And once active, he was able to take over the whole troop and briefly overrun the villains.

With Superman and Booster free, Skeets overwhelms the 'real' Eradicator.

I thought this was a fun panel showing a sea of robot troops drowning the Eradicator.

Still, it is three Kryptonians in Zod, Ursa, and Lor-Zod fighting here. Eventually Superman gets overrun.

Booster tries to convince Lor-Zod to free Superman by holding a shard of Kryptonite to Zod's throat. I love Lor-Zod's response. He wouldn't mind the 'old buzzard' being removed. I thought that was a key small moment.

This whole arc is about family. Superman wanting to learn about his father's fate, trying to see if Jor-El could be Mr. Oz. Lois is trying to save General Lane. Both Clark and Lois love their family, even if they see the sins of their parents. Here, Lor wishes his father is dead. That is a nice foil.

Ultimately, Skeets is able to fix the time bubble so the team jumps in and heads backwards.

So seriously, Superman has witnessed this planet and its people crushed under the Zods' thumbs. So he better try to stop that once he gets back home. This isn't something he should forget about him.

But before heading to the present, they go back to Krypton's destruction one more time. There he sees Jor-El get whisked away in 'blue'. So Jor-El is Mr. Oz. And we get to see a rather gruesome panel of Lara being incinerated. Maybe too graphic? I think just seeing Superman cry would have been enough.

Anyways, I do hope that all this Mr. Oz stuff is answered somewhere. I assume Doomsday Clock is where we will see this played out. I can't imagine Bendis wants to get involved in this.

Again, I am not the biggest Booster fan. But I have seen recently, both here and in animated shorts of all places, the weight that Booster has. He has to keep the timelines stable. He often does it behind the scenes. And he has to resist the temptation to try to change things and improve the universe.

How interesting to hear him 'teach' Superman something, about using this great power with great responsibility.

And yet, just after saying that, Booster uses his powers to change things. In the present, the heroes learn that the Kent family is in Logambo. General Lane and Lois were shot to death last issue. Here, with that just having happened and not being 'solid' in the timeline, Booster is able to rewrite history. He bashes the Logamban machine gunners before they can get a shot off.

I do like that Booster talks about how he altered his own rules for Superman's sake. He cannot let Superman suffer seeing his world end twice in one day.

I suppose it shows just how much respect Booster has for Superman.

And then Superman gets to swoop in and block an RPG, saving his family. General Lane can't believe Superman is also involved in the rescue.

We didn't get too much Lois and Jon this issue. Fun to see Jon talk about how 'Superman' (and not Dad) is a cool guy.

It is a shame that General Lane is back just as Jurgens is leaving.

We know that in 2 issues, Action Comics #1000 will be on the shelves and that means Jurgens will be off the book. So we have a number of subplots that hopefully will be wrapped up or moved forward. And this arc showcasing family and loyalty was pretty good. Lovely art as well.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

"That said, the nature of time travel never quite makes sense to me which is why I find these stories a bit vexing. Throughout the story, Booster says that events in the past are more concrete and cannot be changed. Meanwhile future events are more malleable. But what is 'past' and what is 'future'? Our future is someone else's past. Sigh. I guess I just have to roll with it."

My guess is... Character A can't change THEIR past, but he can change THEIR future. However, if his past is Character B's future, Character B can change it. I think this explanation works for me. I think.

In my opinion, this arc has been somewhat lackluster and I'm glad it's almost over. It's been a tad pointless, too: we needed several issues, a trip to an alternate timeline whose existence and fate remains inconclusive, and another trip to a possible future in order to verify what we already knew (Oz's identity)?

To be fair, I guess I'm still a little miffed about Jurgens pretending Kal-El was the sole survivor, so I may be biased. Anyway, Bendis is likely to ignore this whole storyline and change Krypton's past, so it feels like a filler arc.

Martin Gray said...

Nice review. I don't even try to understand the 'rules' of time travel these days. I miss the days time travel tales didn't have to concern themselves, constantly, with the butterfly effect - just go back in time and meet Ben Franklin, or become the Sphinx, and remember that if you're in your own past, you become a phantom. Simples.

I liked this arc a lot, there's nothing wrong with zooming around between plotlines - look at how great, say, Time and Time Again was.

Yep, the Lara scene was too much, very graphic, nightmarish even. But wow, that Conrad art.