WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #998 by Dan Jurgens, Will Conrad, Ivan Nunes and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Superman and Booster Gold are trapped in the future on a hostile planet ruled by the House of Zod. Their only ally, Booster’s robot buddy Skeets, is dead. Thing are looking pretty bad for our heroes at the start of Action Comics #998, and while they do manage to get out of their predicament — it is superhero comics after all — the real interesting stuff in this issue comes towards the end of the story
It's here where Booster Gold lets slip a couple of things that maybe he shouldn’t know, suggesting a much greater understanding of the DC — and Marvel — Multiverse than we ever gave him credit for.
Last week, Infinity Countdown Prime #1 had a bit of fun with the DC Universe, by showing a brief glimpse of an alternate universe Captain Marvel who looked very much like the hero we now know as Shazam, and this week DC gets to have some fun of its own.
After a particularly somber scene where Superman and Booster witness the destruction of Krypton, in which Superman confirms that he father was pulled out of time and space by a mysterious force, the heroes decide to head home to their rightful time. Booster jokingly refers to Skeets as “Alfred,” a reference to Batman’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth. When Skeets objects, Booster comes back by saying, “Not like like I can call you Jarvis. Whole other timeline.”
Of course, Booster Gold is referencing The Avengers’ butler Edwin Jarvis, currently on his deathbed in the pages of Avengers: No Surrender. While the joke is in good fun, it does suggest that Booster has a much greater understanding of the multiversal structure than we may have guessed.
The Multiversity confirmed there are other multiverses out there, leaving room for the Arrowverse, the DCEU and, somewhere, the Marvel Multiverse, too. They crossed over a bunch in previous decades and there’s nothing to say it won’t ever happen again, however unlikely.
Booster also ends the issue with a sly aside to Barry Allen, suggesting he knows all about Flashpoint and Barry’s role in it. When The Flash says that he would never go back in time and interfere, Booster replies with “Really, Flash? You would NEVER?” to which Barry responds, “Low blow.”
Barry Allen is at least somewhat responsible for The New 52 and the current continuity tangles, because he went back in time to save his mother. When he attempted to fix everything, it opened the doors for Doctor Manhattan to peek in and mess everything up. Of course, it’s more a funny aside than a groundbreaking character moment for either character, but it does again present Booster as someone who knows a lot more than he’s letting on.
The conclusion to “Booster Shot” also features a major upgrade for Skeets, who was seemingly destroyed last issue by General Zod’s son, Lor-Zod. However, the tech-savvy robot managed to upload himself into not just one robot, but into all of General Zod’s Eradicators, helping to free Superman and Booster Gold and turn the tide against the killer Kryptonian family. It’s unlikely Skeets will keep the body — Booster is showing up again soon in an upcoming Batman story — but it would be a cool continuity acknowledgment for this to be Skeets’ deal for now, at least for a little bit.
The issue ends with Booster and Skeets heading back to “face the music” for their meddling with time, but it’s interesting that the story didn’t really delve too deeply into who they’d be getting chewed out by. Logic suggests Rip Hunter, who himself recently showed up in the pages of Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps — but that’s what so interesting about Booster now. While he hasn’t been around that much, he obviously hasn’t stopped having adventures and obviously has a lot going on that we just haven’t seen. By not telling us how he knows certain things or who he’s working for or where he’s going next, it creates an air of mystique around the once bumbling laughing stock of the hero community and creates anticipation for whatever his next appearance may be.