A Bad Dad Provides Clarity in Action Comics 995

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The past few issues of Action Comics have featured Superman at his worst. His determination to go back in time to watch Krypton’s destruction (all in hopes of proving that Mr. Oz wasn’t actually Jor-El) has practically made him the bad guy of this story, as his stubborn refusal to heed Booster Gold’s warnings to stop meddling in time have endangered all of history. Even at his best moments in this story, though, he’s come across as a bit shortsighted and condescending. It takes a revelation about Booster’s father to help Superman gain some much-needed clarity.

Our heroes’ complicated relationships with their fathers has really been the central theme of this arc, as Superman tries to comprehend that Jor-El might not be the man he thought he was, and as Lois Lane attempts to save her father’s life even though they’ve been estranged for over a decade. Action Comics 995 is the first time in this story that Dan Jurgens and Brett Booth have brought one of their cast face-to-face with said complicated fathers, in the form of Booster Gold’s dad, Jonar Carter. Jonar might just be the worst father of the three — he may not be trying to commit genocide as Mr. Oz did, but he at least loved Clark. Jonar clearly does not care even the tiniest bit what happens to his son.

His awful legacy is a big part of how Michael Carter ended up becoming Booster Gold in the first place, as Superman eventually comes to learn (thanks to Skeets). Throughout this storyline Superman has been enraged at, frustrated by, and disappointed in Booster in nearly equal measures, which makes sense enough — of course the quintessential boy scout wouldn’t be a big fan of the sell-out superhero who got his powers through theft. Learning about Booster’s true mission and his tough past, though, helps Superman see Booster Gold a bit more clearly.

This is the kind of Superman I love to see — one who can’t condone breaking the law, but has the empathy and compassion to understand how people get into these situations, and who realizes that justice and the law don’t always go hand-in-hand. Hopefully their adventures in the 25th Century will help Supes and Booster get along better as they try to repair history and make their way home — Superman understanding Booster’s goals and purpose will go a long way to alleviating his frustrations with him — but even more importantly, hopefully it will help Clark to see the good in even this version of Jor-El, and understand how much worse he could have had it in the father department. Maybe Booster’s redemptive path will even help him remember that his father’s actions have no reflection on his own path in life.

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