Action Comics #996 Review: Decent Story Hampered by Major Art Shift

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Action Comics #996 finds Superman and Booster Gold at the mercy of an Eradicator drone once more. The two manage to dispatch the robot, and they find themselves in an unknown future on a world now called New Krypton (which is actually the same planet Jekuul from Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #37). Superman and Booster investigate the nearby city in the hopes of discovering what has happened.

In the present, Lois Lane infiltrates Logamba with the goal of saving her father, General Sam Lane. Little does the reporter know that her son, Jonathan Kent, aka Superboy, is not far behind her.

Action Comics #996 cover by Dan Jurgens, Trevor Scott, and Hi-Fi
Action Comics #996 cover by Dan Jurgens, Trevor Scott, and Hi-Fi

I've not commented on the issue-to-issue artist shifts in my reviews of the "Booster-Shot" arc of Action Comics. This is due to the fact that the previous artists have all had a fairly consistent aesthetic. With Will Conrad, we have a dramatic shift in style that does throw the story off somewhat. Conrad is a great artist, and I enjoyed his work on John Semper Jr.'s Cyborg. However, it fills ill-suited to this arc of Action Comics given that the likes of Dan Jurgens and Brett Booth covered the art of recent issues.

That complaint aside, Action Comics #996 is still a fairly enjoyable read. Lois Lane's plot advances a great deal, with her getting deep into the fictional nation of Logamba and using her wits and courage to dispatch danger whenever it arises.

We get to see Superman kick the tar out of the Eradicator drone with the ease one would expect of Big Blue. Skeets has some good lines here, and we get to see Booster Gold continue to awkwardly attempt to buddy up to the Man of Steel.

The Superman and Booster plot does feel a little slow-moving in this issue, and I do hope that Jurgens gets to the point of the hoping around the timestream soon. I fear we may have to wait for Action Comics #999 or #1000 to get some sort of conclusion or reasoning for this meandering time-travel plot.

Action Comics #996 art by Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes
Action Comics #996 art by Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes

Returning to the Will Conrad art, it does look good in vacuum. I dig his 3-D rendered style which isn't too far removed from the work of Mike Deodato Jr. The problem is that Jurgens and Booth's work established this baseline style that wavered more towards a classic comics style with a touch of 1990s detailing. It created something of its own atmosphere and tone, from which Conrad's more dramatic 3-D work is far removed.

Ivan Nunes's gradient-shaded color art accompanies Conrad's work well, but, again, it doesn't match the Action Comics style we've seen the last few issues.

All-in-all, Action Comics #996 is an entertaining read. The slowing of the Superman/Booster Gold plot is made up for somewhat by Lois Lane's story. Conrad and Nunes's art does look good, even if it is a jarring change. The overall plot is starting to outstay it's welcome though, and it will hopefully come to a conclusion soon. That being said, I do still recommend this comic, even if it isn't a must-read. Feel free to give it a read if you're so inclined though.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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