In Review: Action Comics #995

A good breather after the last two issues, focusing on some Booster Gold backstory.

The covers: Two very different covers to satisfy any fan of this series. The Regular cover is by Dan Jurgens, Trevor Scott, & Hi-Fi. On two gigantic screens images of Superman and Booster Gold are projected. Beneath each is the word WANTED. Below these two monitors are five armed guards garbed in futuristic armor carrying massive, powerful looking blasters. I’m a fan of Wanted posters on covers that show the heroes being hunted and this frontpiece fits the bill perfectly. I love the heroes and the guards and the colors make this incredibly strong. The Variant cover is by Dustin Nguyen and it’s like a piece of fine art. Booster and Skeets are emerging from a red, spiky void, while Superman stands in the foreground looking to the right. The characters are on a white background which allows them to really stand out. I want to say this is done in watercolors, but that’s only a guess. This looks really cool and is very different from anything on the stands, let alone on a superhero book. Check this out if you can find one. Overall grades: Both A

The story: After narrowly escaping a time altered past where Krypton never exploded and General Zod runs the world, Superman and Booster Gold find themselves in the far future, Booster’s future to be precise. Unfortunately they brought with them one of Zod’s Eradicators which wants to kill the pair. Dan Jurgens’s has the two heroes knocked unconscious while the robot tries to make sense of who Superman is, seeing that he bears the House of El’s mark. Luckily, the Man of Steel wakes up and the clobbering begins again. Booster doesn’t jump in to assist him immediately as Skeets has notified his master that they’ve gone into the future, Booster’s future to be precise: Gotham City of 2462. After he learns this information, Booster joins the battle. Meanwhile, the chronal energy of the stolen time sphere is detected by those who seek to capture Booster, so more trouble is on the way for the duo. This issue starts with a strong action sequence and then becomes a history of Booster’s past and his motivations for being a hero. It’s a decent look at what made him the capitalist hero he is, which includes some interaction with his parents, though the scenes with his father were fairly predictable for a superhero comic. Better were the scenes of Skeets trying to justify to Superman why Booster is a hero. The pair try to get out of the future to return to the past, though things go wrong, leaving the pair in another time related cliffhanger. There are also two pages of Lois trying to get to her captured father, unaware that she’s not going unaccompanied. This isssue is a solid breather from the previous two issues and includes some Booster backstory, though it doesn’t have the urgency of the installments before it. Overall grade: B

The art: The fantastic combo of Brett Booth on pencils and Norm Rapmund on inks is the artist duo of this issue. I loved their phenomenal work on The Flash and I was happy to see that they would be providing the visuals for this comic. The first page has a neat panel of the Eradicator holding the unconscious Kryptonian; the energy and steam that comes that emits from its visor is terrific. When Superman stirs at the bottom of the page he looks incredibly weak, but this is just a feint for the powerful punch he delivers to the diabolical automaton. While the clash begins, Booster has some fun asides that only the reader can see. I really like Booth and Rapmund’s take on Booster: he’s absolutely heroic, but he’s got a smile he flashes that could sell a million adult diapers that shows he’s got a mischievous side. When he engages the robot with Superman each punch and blast is gigantic, with the whole affair ending in a monstrous explosion. The conversation between Skeets and Supes starts with a classic image of the hero looking over the city that echoes past illustrations of the iconic hero. Superman emotes wonderfully as Skeets reveals what made Booster into the hero he is, ending with the hero realizing he was wrong about the young time traveler. The individual Booster is quartered with in jail looks great, but is instantly unreliable; before one word of text is read, the reader knows this person cannot be trusted. The book ends with a full-paged splash of the heroes in a new, ominous location that’s gasp worthy. One particularly neat element of this final image is somewhat lost by the tease for next issue: look at all the skulls on the ground. To be blunt: any book penciled by Booth and inked by Rapmund is a visual treat that should be picked up. Overall grade: A

The colors: Andrew Dalhouse, who was also the colorist on Booth and Rapmund’s Flash run, uses reds incredibly on the first seven pages. They’re used for the visor of the Eradicator and they are reflected onto any character that comes within their proximity, such as the wonderful glow cast on Superman on the opening page. The energy blasts from the bot are huge and gorgeous, as shown by the final panel on Page 3. When the Eradicator goes into overdrive on 6 they’re breathtaking. Helping the reds stand out is the snowy setting that creates an excellent frostiness in blues, whites, and grays. The two pages that focus on Lois’s exploits create a night time outing with dark colors, yet Dalhouse is smart enough not to have them overpower the illustrations, so the reader can still every detail of what’s occurring, and that’s important given who’s following her. The color of the outfit on Booster’s cellmate is an excellent way to have the character show a relationship to the hero. The gold on the large item on the final page is a marvelous tease of the character’s position and strength, plus having the character’s name spoken in a particular color is a nod to the individual’s planet of origin. An ace job by Dalhouse. Overall grade: A

The letters: Rob Leigh creates this issue’s narration, Eradicator speech, dialogue, sounds, the story’s title, the book’s credits, Skeet’s speech, scene settings, yells, a unique font for a new robotic speaker, and the tease for next issue. Leigh continually dazzles the reader with a wide array of fonts that suit every possible need of this story. There are three different robotic voices in this book and each gets their own unique font. This not only separates each character from the other, but provides a visual that engages the reader. I love when narrators use different fonts for narration and dialogue, which Leigh does. The sounds are also spectacular. They are as big as the action on the page and small enough, PLIPT, to be humorous. This is an outstanding job on this issue. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A good breather after the last two issues, focusing on some Booster Gold backstory. The action is good, the story is informative, and the visuals are outstanding. “Booster Shot” continues to be an engaging story of Superman’s error in trying to see his past. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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