Action Comics #998
Action Comics #998, by Dan Jurgens, Will Conrad, and Ivan Nunes, concludes the Booster Shot storyline with an issue full of action, humor, and heart.
Superman and Booster Gold have been thrown into the future and have been captured by General Zod and his family on New Krypton. Some quick thinking from Skeets, Booster’s robotic sidekick, gets them free and the two proceed to fighting their way free. Superman, being the ultimate altruist, wants to try and help the inhabitants of the planet living under Zod’s tyrannical rule, but Booster is able to convince him to try and fix the problem in the past. On the way to the present, the two stop at the destruction of Krypton and see if Jor-El was really taken and became Mr Oz. After getting the answer, Booster takes Superman to Logamba, where Lois and Jon have went to rescue Samuel Kent. By the time they get there, though. Lois and her father have already been killed, so Booster goes back in time and saves them, hiding the fact they died at all from Superman. The issue ends with Booster and Superman apologizing for taking Flash’s cosmic treadmill and Booster leaving to face the music for changing the past.
A ton happens in this issue, but Jurgens keeps it all flowing. The pace never gets bogged down, even during the quiet moments after Superman and Booster escape Zod’s future planet. It all plays into the overarching story and there’s enough action and humor (because really, if you have Booster Gold in a comic, he has to get some good lines, including a joke about calling Skeets Alfred and not Jarvis, which is pretty great) to balance the heavier moments of the book.
This whole story arc has really been Jurgens in top form. Action Comics is a book that should revolve around the action set pieces while also delivering good storytelling, character work, and emotion and this issue is no exception. He balances time travel shenanigans, emotional moments, balls-to-the-wall action, and Booster’s frequently irreverent humor in a way that a lesser writer would have fumbled. Another interesting part about this story arc is Clark and Lois’s similar, yet diverging, quest to find their fathers. It gives the whole thing a nice thematic resonance to what, at first, glance could just be a way to pad out the page count. It’s sad that he’ll be leaving the book soon, but he’s going out with a bang. It also helps that he loves writing the arc’s guest star, Booster Gold, a character he created back in 1986. This whole story seems sort of like a back door pilot for a new Booster Gold series, which is always something to look forward to. Booster is another character that Jurgens just gets and is a perfect example of the way Jurgens can juggle multiple character threads and make them all work. Sure, Booster gets the good jokes, but there’s also gravitas to the character and a sense of responsibility that other writers miss when they’re writing the character. Jurgens doesn’t and it makes Booster Gold that much of a better character.
The art by Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes is another highlight of the book. Conrad is a seasoned veteran doing some of the best work of his career. His action is clean and crisp, his acting and detail are top notch, and everything looks gorgeous. Nunes’s colors make everything pop. It all works together and this is probably the best drawn issue of this story arc. It’s fitting that this team got saved for the last, because they definitely have the goods. Without them, this still would have been a good issue, but with them, it pushes everything up a notch.
Action Comics #998 is everything you could want from a Superman comic--action, adventure, humor, and it hits all the right emotional notes for a story about people and their fathers. The art and writing are first tier and in a perfect world, this team would continuing telling Superman stories forever. As it is, they put a fitting cap on a storyline that could have went either way, but managed to soar, like a bird. Or a plane. Or a certain Kryptonian.