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Superman Action Comics #997 Review: Badly Padded and Noticeably Empty

Superman and Booster Gold face Lor-Zod, the child of the infamous General Zod, and the Eradicator. They face him on the planet the villain calls New Krypton. Soon Zod and Ursa join the fight, and the fight appears hopeless for Superman and Booster.

Back on Earth in our present, Lois Lane finally finds her father, General Sam Lane. Her and Clark's son, Jonathan Kent, follows not far behind.

Superman: Action Comics #997 cover by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse
Superman: Action Comics #997 cover by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse

Action Comics' "Booster Shot" spins ever closer to #1000 with a disheartening insistence on padding and plot tangents. This arc is decompressed beyond reason, and I say that as a guy who enjoys the current Black Panther. Coates mostly justifies the lengths of his arcs with interesting characters with complex motivations and meaningful story developments. Action Comics' "Booster Shot" just keeps finding new way stations to spend an issue within before moving onto the next one.

This issue starts off with a recap that reminds us that this all began with a search for Mr. Oz and whether he truly is Jor-El. The comic has strayed so far from that starting point, and it looks unlikely to return there. If it does, it likely won't be until #1000. I understand wanting to wait for that milestone for this kind of mystery, but it makes the "Booster Shot" such an ass-pull.

The saving graces for this issue which keep it from being completely bland are General Zod himself and the Lois Lane and Jon Kent plot.

The Lois plot actually gets somewhere this issue, even if it ends in a "oh no, they're all dead" finale that leaves you wondering how dishonest the image is.

Zod delivers a villainous monologue with enough motivation and regality to keep his scenes at least somewhat interesting. Plus, Lor-Zod is enough of a vicious sadist to make his character both entertaining and uncomfortable. Ursa and Eradicator unfortunately aren't given that much character, though.

Superman: Action Comics #997 art by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse
Superman: Action Comics #997 art by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse

Brett Booth returns for this issue, and, once again, Will Conrad's short disparately-styled stint on this book is left baffling. That's not intended as a criticism of Conrad's work; it just contrasts the tone of Booth and Jurgens' previous artwork so drastically that it left the comic with a whiplash. Booth brings the comic back to the dominating tone and style that defined this arc. It looks good too, with Rapmund's inkwork keeping the book clean and Dalhouse delivering some solid color work.

Action Comics #997 makes it clear how much of a stopgap the "Booster Shot" is intended to be on the road to #1000. While the book has its bright spots, Booster Gold himself being chief among them, none of them make up for how empty this story was intended to be all along. I can recommend it to the Booster and Superman completionists, as the story is not entirely a disaster. However, anyone with cursory interest may as well wait for #1000.

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Joshua DavisonAbout 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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