Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Action Comics #997

Action Comics #997 came out this week, another chapter in the Booster Shot story arc, the last arc for Dan Jurgens prior to Brian Michael Bendis taking over the super titles. Jurgens has certainly shored up the book since Superman Reborn. There has been a classic feel to the stories. And, while not as extensive as I'd hope, he brought in a feeling of super-family to the proceedings.

So it is a shame that this is the arc he is ending on. Because for some reason, this just isn't clicking with me. It may be that the impetus for this time trip is the fact that Mr. Oz turned out to be Jor-El. Not a fan of that. I wonder if the Oz story is going to be forgotten? Picked up by Bendis? Explained in Doomsday Clock? I think forgotten ... which would mean a several year buildup is just swept away.

And then the rest of the story ...  the trip back to Krypton, a story idea that never works for me for some reason. And, of course, Booster ... a character I've never took a shine to.

Here we have a loud, action filled chapter with Superman fighting General Zod, Ursa, and Lor-Zod. It is visually stunning. It is a good battle. But that's all it is ... a battle.

If anything, the subplot of Lois saving her father is the more compelling of the two storylines. That moves forward nicely.

Brett Booth brings a lot of style and zing the the proceedings. But many pages have wild panel layouts which at times made for confusing readings. I had to decide how to read the word bubbles in oddly angled shots. Still, the art was wild.

On to the book.

The issue picks up with Superman battling Lor-Zod and Booster fighting the Eradicator. In short order, Booster is take out.

Superman, on the other hand, is able to bring down Lor-Zod in a battle of heat vision. There is something almost Dragon Ball Z about this fight, with more and more energy being poured out in a conflagration.

Definitely like how Superman has been battle-tested and therefore knows how to kick it up a notch. And this red-smeared page and the sound effect growing in intensity works wonderfully.

But then Zod shows up and defeats Superman by ... body slamming him?

I don't know if that makes sense. But okay.

I will say that I like 'Old Man Zod'.

Meanwhile, Lois is working her way through Logambo's prison to try and rescue her dad. I like how all along the way, Lois find friends (both expected and unexpected). They all praise her for her journalistic work which hoped to free the country from the iron-fisted fascistic rule. It plays up her role in meting out justice.

But there are loyal troops. Just when it looks like she might be shot, a lucky blast of heat vision saves her. She assumes it's from her husband. Of course, it is Jon who finally has to reveal he is there.

I love Jon's youthful energy, determined to help his mom.

Unfortunately, it means the two have to explain Jon's presence to the now rescued General Lane. I mean, who would bring a tween to a war zone.

But there is some grist for this mill. Lois will not let her father now about Jon's powers. So she has to just wave off why Jon is here. I love that questioning and seemingly concerned look on Sam Lane's face. He is just meeting his grandson. He is probably thrilled. But running from gun-toting enemies to a pick-up site isn't the best place for this meet.

Sam Lane is always portrayed as a unfeeling military man. So seeing him look worried for the well-being of Jon humanizes him a little.

But then we are back on New Krypton.

Booster Gold and Superman are strung up on a Kryptonite infused crucifix. Lor destroys Skeets.

And there will be a public execution to show the natives that they are truly in charge.

Okay, I have to stop here and say something. The language of the Zod family shows just how cruel and vicious they are. They seem unhinged. And they have ruled this planet for decades. So why would they need to do a televised execution to show their power to the populace?

And given all the stories of the past, I simply can't believe they wouldn't simply kill Superman as soon as they knocked him out. Why take the chance? Especially given how enraged and impetuous they seem.

The Zods do talk of wanting access to Booster's time machine. They will use it to rewrite the universe in their bloody image. And, to once more show how monstrous they are, Ursa talks of going back in time to kill Lois and Jon.

It is this insane barbaric attitude, this uncontrolled seething rage about the Els that makes me think they would simply kill these heroes immediately. Or at least begin torturing them.

I thought maybe they were kept alive to try to figure out where the time machine is. But no ... they are just organizing a public barbecue.

I don't know.

It just doesn't make sense to me that Zod would think of doing this. And I know you can't kill off Superman. So write the story so I don't say 'why isn't he dead?'

Meanwhile, Lois and Sam are gunned down in the jungle. Now this does make sense. It is amazing to think that Lois and he made it that far.

Of course, we are talking about a time travel story so I can only surmise that a else-when rescue is about to happen.

So this was an action heavy issue, perfect for Action Comics. But this whole thing is like flat soda. You can say it is a little tasty. But it isn't what you really want.

Overall grade: B-


Anonymous said...

I also found this issue underwhelming. And Zod's catchphrase is starting to get annoying. He's obssessed with making his enemies bow down, we've got it already!

It's hard to reconcile this savage Lor-Zod with calm, gloomy but enthusiastic Chris Kent who wanted nothing but being a hero like his adoptive father and had a crush on Thara.

In contrast with Lor-Zod, Sam is a nice change of pace. When was the last time Sam Lane was portrayed in a sympathetic way? The wedding issue?

I find funny how Zod justifies his hate for the House of El on his being banished to the Zone. In "DC Super Hero Girls" he was never banished but he was still a jerk to the Els just because he found it funny. So much power and he's nothing but a self-justifying bully.

I want to this arc over and done, but I'm not looking forward to Bendis.

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, me too on the kneeling bit, but I'm always moaning about that. It's now a family fetish. Lovely.

This is my least-liked Booster Shot issue because, well, the Zods. I won't try to reconcile Lor-Zod with Chris Kent due to all the reality rewriting. I just want them to go away. Bring Back Jax-Ur, or Kru-El, Zod is terribly one-note and overexposed.

The Lois and Jon stuff was better. Has Sam found Beppo and Rex's Fountain of Youth?