- Booster Gold
Friday, April 24, 2020
It didn't take long after Booster Gold joined the Justice League before he and Blue Beetle were inseparable. (Some might say insufferable!) The pair quickly became the Abbot and Costello of superheroics, their pranks and self-interested business ventures providing a comedic release from the stress of facing down would-be world conquerors six days a week.
None of their hijinks is bigger, more famous, or more disastrous than the time they established a casino on the tropical island of KooeyKooeyKooey, as seen in the story "Club JLI" published in Justice League America #34 (1989), an issue that easily ranks among the twelve best Booster Gold comics.
Writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis had been sowing the seeds for what would become "Club JLI" for months. After the JLI fought aliens in the South Pacific (Justice League International #23), the island nation of KooeyKooeyKooey decided to allow the JLI to host an embassy on its territory (Justice League International Annual #3). Their own tropical paradise on the far side of the world was the perfect opportunity for Booster and Beetle to establish the one business venture guaranteed to make money: a casino. The house always wins, right?
What out heroes didn't plan for was that their venture would attract the attention of another would-be world conqueror — the DCU is practically infested with them — the aptly named Major Disaster. Disaster also wanted to get rich, and he had an ace-in-the-hole, his card-counting companion, Big Sir. Together, the pair set out to break the bank.
Unfortunately for everyone, the bank had been established with money embezzled from the JLI's United Nations-funded bank accounts. Our heroes had assumed that they would be making so much money so fast, they would be able to replace the money before it was noticed missing. Oops.
As if things couldn't get any worse, Aquaman arrives to inform the newly-bankrupt heroes that their island paradise KooeyKooeyKooey isn't a normal island. It's alive. And it's not very interested in having a resort on its back.
By the end of the issue, Beetle and Booster find themselves far worse off than they were before, which is par for the course for our two favorite hard-luck heroes. Better luck next time, guys.
As you can see in the panels above, this Giffen/DeMatteis masterpiece is a perfect mix of comedy and action. Almost every panel has either a punchline or plot consequence. Most of the humor comes from the personalities of the characters involved, and the events will provide material enough to propel plots for months' worth of issues. (The fallout of the Club JLI misadventure will lead directly to Booster's quitting the League for a leadership position in the Conglomerate.)
And while I'm heaping praise on the writers, I'd be remiss to omit the contributions made by Adam Hughes, who was drawing only his fourth DC Comic! Even considering the limitations of four-color printing on newsprint, Hughes' character are so full of life that they nearly spring from the page. It must have been a hard job to follow the original JLI artist, master of expressions Kevin Maguire, but Hughes proves a formidable talent in his own right. (How many copies did DC sell based on Hughes' brilliant cover alone?)
Sometimes everything works, elevating what might otherwise be a light adventure story into a truly great comics. Justice League America #34 is one such case, and that's why it is rightly included among The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever.
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