- Booster Gold
Friday, October 18, 2019
The DC Comics reading world of 1986 was not ready for the debut of Booster Gold. Who could blame them? Gambler-turned-thief-turned-celebrity sounds more like a traditional DC villain than a hero. Anti-heroes wouldn't become all the rage for a few more years yet. Creator Dan Jurgens was ahead of his time.
The letter columns of early Booster Gold books were filled with complaints that the hero was inherently unlikable. A typical letter, from Booster Gold #5 called him "egotistical, self-absorbed, conceited, self-hyping, and immodest," which even Booster boosters have to admit was a pretty accurate assessment. This situation was only made worse once Booster's origin was revealed in issue #6. No less a moral authority than Superman thought Booster was "nothing more than a 25th-century crook!"
Souring fan reaction to the character was a major factor in the cancellation of the original Booster Gold series. Jurgens resisted polishing Booster's rougher edges, and the Powers That Were decided to move Booster in a new direction with Justice League International where Booster's less palatable character traits were often exploited for comic effect. This worked out in Booster's favor. It was with the JLI that Booster really became a star.
As such things go, public demand for the Justice League led to the JLI team being featured in three consecutive issues of Secret Origins, giving Jurgens another opportunity to sell Booster's origin to the comics reading public. This time he did what he had previously been unwilling to do: he made Booster Gold sympathetic.
In Secret Origins #35, released on this day in 1988, it is revealed that Michael "Booster" Carter only started gambling on his own football games in order to afford an expensive operation for his sick mother. No longer was he a selfish lout. Now Booster was a good son!
"Child with a heart of gold breaking the law to help his family" may not be the most original origin, but it did the job burnishing Booster's tarnished reputation with readers. Booster's worst mistakes could now be chalked up to good intentions. I'm sure Superman would agree that even 25th-century crooks deserve a second chance.
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