SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #993 by Dan Jurgens, Joe Prado and Cam Smith, on sale now.
Action Comics #993 features the long-expected reintroduction of Booster Gold into DC Comics' Rebirth, and it's his own creator who once again writes and pencils his return. Both the publisher and Dan Jurgens had let readers know months ago that the cocky hero would return at some point, with this issue serving as his first appearance since Rebirth supplanted DC's New 52 in modern continuity.
Like most of DC's heroes featured in Rebirth, Booster is immediately recognizable in both appearance and character, remaining faithful to his longstanding incarnation, rather than being reinvented. Michael Jon Carter's alter ego, though, might also end up playing a larger role in Rebirth -- and Superman's origin -- than might first be apparent.
And Just Like That, There He Is
Seeing as Booster's eventual return was about as surprising as a sunrise, there's no need for any further buildup, so none is provided. On page one, Booster simply shows up in the Justice League Watchtower on the trail of Superman, who has just disappeared into the timestream. Superman, of course, was seen last issue in the Watchtower using The Flash's cosmic treadmill to travel into the past to the time of his home planet Krypton's destruction, in an effort to help unravel the mystery of Mr. Oz – aka, Supes' not-so-dead father Jor-El.
The scenario seemingly jettisons the New 52 aspects of the character, returning Booster to his pre-Flashpoint incarnation as a protector of the timestream, as witnessed by his mission to try and prevent Superman from journeying to the past. Of course, Booster wasn't always a guardian of the fabric of time – he's also a well-known hero of a new generation. He's certainly well-known enough for The Flash to also arrive at the Watchtower and confront Booster when he mistakenly thinks Booster is there to make use of the treadmill himself.
What Happened – Or What Didn't Happen – To Krypton?
Meanwhile, light years away and decades in the past, Superman has in fact arrived near Krypton, moments before its destruction. No sooner does he arrive, though, then an unexpected storm of chronal energy bombards him with both imagery of what was, and what could have been. He sees not only familiar images of his parents at the moment of his departure as an infant, but also inexplicable visions of a Krypton that avoided destruction. Among those visions are Kal-El's elderly parents standing along side their adult son – in his traditional costume, rather than Kryptonian garb. There's also an unknown woman bearing the House of El symbol alongside Lara – a younger sister, perhaps, that Kal might have had, if not for his home world's destruction? Kal is also seen alongside another and more sinister figure – that of General Zod.
Once the chronal storm subsides, Superman finds himself in surprising surroundings – a Krypton that has definitively not perished, and one that aligns with his earlier alternate visions. The first event that Kal witnesses for real, though, is no less surprising – that of his father and Zod, together, marching to investigate the arrival of an unknown entity. That entity, of course, is likely Superman, and the astonished Man of Steel is surprised further still by the arrival of Booster, who has successfully tracked him across both time and space. Even as Booster tries to convince Superman to remain in the shadows, though, the two are discovered by Zod's soldiers, and after being shot, Superman is reminded of another discovery: that he has no superpowers on Krypton.