SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #992 by Dan Jurgens, Rob Williams, Will Conrad, Hi-Fi and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Superman is more broken and beaten than he has been in years, and it all happened without anyone laying a punch on the Man of Steel. He’s still dealing with the return of his father Jor-El in the form of Mr. Oz and just as he accepted that the man manipulating the heroes of the DC Universe was in fact his father, Jor-El was taken from him again at the behest of his mysterious benefactor.
But though Superman is at the kind of disadvantage he’s never before experienced, rather than rest on his laurels he’s investing his full time and energy into discovering how Jor-El survived Krypton. As a result, he's moving closer and closer to the being that’s been pulling his strings for the last six years.
While Superman is facing one of the toughest challenges he’s ever encountered, he doesn’t have to face it alone. The Man of Tomorrow may be spending much of his time in his headquarters brooding and going over the evidence again and again, but he has a best friend who’s a more than a little familiar with that kind of behaviour who wants to make sure that Superman is doing okay. Batman isn’t just there for moral support though, he’s been going through his own trials and tribulations with the mysterious manipulator behind-the-scenes.
Batman and The Flash’s run-in with the Flashpoint timeline as a result of the Comedian’s button piqued The Dark Knight’s interest, and Mr. Oz’s involvement in the abduction of Tim Drake has solidified any doubts he may have. As he tells Superman, “something is wrong with time” which is something we’re seeing all over the DC Universe. There’s multiple future Batmen running around in the present day, The Titans are facing off against an evil Donna Troy from an alternate timeline, The Flash’s clash with Professor Zoom took him all over the timestream, someone is messing with the past, present and future of the world and the World’s Finest aren’t going to let that rest.
No Evil Shall Escape My Sight
Thankfully, Superman is close-friends with people high up the chain of command in the universe’s intergalactic police force, and as such has asked Hal Jordan of the Green Lantern Corps to investigate the GLC’s files for information regarding the destruction of Krypton. According to Mr. Oz, he made it off Krypton with the help of his benefactor but Superman needs to know for sure. Unfortunately, the files that the Green Lantern Corps have on the destruction of Krypton have been altered, with one second of footage removed prior to its destruction. Salaak tells Superman that the recording has been altered, but Superman tells him the recording is accurate, it’s time itself that has been altered.
With nowhere else to turn, Superman decides to head back to Krypton himself with the aid of The Flash’s cosmic treadmill. An incredibly risky proposition considering he’d be going back to a world on which he has no powers, just moments before its complete destruction. Unlike the rest of the issue, Superman doesn’t get advice from The Flash on this, because otherwise Barry Allen may have warned him from messing with the timestream, but alas he fires up the cosmic treadmill and journeys to the past, only for Booster Gold to appear one second too late in an attempt to stop him.
Booster has been missing in action for a long while now, last seen in the confusing and forgettable Convergence event. His place in the DC Universe has been up in the air for some time now, but with his return in the epilogue to this issue and the upcoming “Booster Shot” storyline, it seems that his creator Dan Jurgens is restoring Michael Jon Carter — and Skeets, we can’t forget Skeets — to the role of timeline protector.
What that entails and what Superman does in the past that places the entire timeline in danger of total collapse is so far a mystery, but The Man of Tomorrow is closing in on his manipulator, which we’re lead to believe is Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, and with the first issue of Doomsday Clock now on shelves, he’s getting closer than ever to tracking him down.