- Booster Gold
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Monday, August 9, 2021
The life of any comic book hero would be a lonely one if not for the many characters who have made up their supporting cast. Just as Superman has Lois Lane and Batman has Alfred, Booster Gold has also shared his adventures with quite a few people over the years. Today we look at one of those, Blackguard.
When you hear "Batman villain," you probably think of the Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman has Cheetah. It's an old adage that all heroes are defined by their opponents. But before you can battle the king, you have to work your way up the hill.
Long before Joker, Batman started his career against Doctor Death. Superman originally matched wits with the Ulra-Humanite; Wonder Woman had Princess Maru. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Booster Gold started with Blackguard in the pages of Booster Gold #1.
Blackguard's technology was a gift of his sponsor, the criminal organization 1000, who had hired him to steal technology from Metropolis' S.T.A.R. Labs. A clumsy getaway resulted in his first, accidental encounter with rookie hero Booster Gold.
The inaugural confrontation between hero and villain took up most of the pages in Booster Gold #1 as the matched pair took turns showcasing their super powers and abilities. Both had scientifically advanced power suits. Booster was lithe; Blackguard was strong. Booster had energy lasers; Blackguard had an energy mace. Booster was smarter, and Blackguard was ultimately defeated.
Everyone's got to have a gimmick, and "being defeated" would soon become Blackguard's. Despite his considerable cybernetic strength and amazing, mentally-controlled energy constructs, Blackguard's general incompetence would lead to his defeat again...
Blackguard appeared on three of the first four covers of Booster Gold beginning in 1985, but unlike our hero, Blackguard's journey would be out of the public eye. While Booster was growing rich and/or famous, the forgotten villain spent most of the next few decades — except for a *very* brief stint as a henchman for the devil Neron — in maximum security prisons The Slab or Belle Reve. He gave himself the aspirational nickname, "The Human Killing Spree" (in Guy Gardner: Warrior #36) but given his track record, it's hard to believe he could ever successfully kill even a single person — unless it was by accident.
When he was finally paroled in 2005, Blackguard turned over a new leaf. Using his given name, Richard "Dick" Hertz, he partnered with experienced restaurateur Guy Gardner and opened a bar in the building next door to Booster Gold's Super Buddies team headquarters.
Like so many other would-be reformed villains, Blackguard was eventually given a second chance to do bad, and he still tried to make the best of it as an agent of Task Force X, better known as the Suicide Squad. In Blackguard's case, it lived up to its name.
Ironically, Blackguard has become more famous in death than he ever was in life. He made his live-action movie debut in last week's The Suicide Squad, where he is portrayed by Pete Davidson.
Meanwhile, glory-seeking Booster Gold is still waiting for his shot at movie stardom. Blackguard didn't win at much, but at least he's got that.
Are you interested in meeting other "People in his Neighborhood"? Follow these links to get to know Trixie Collins, Daniel Carter, Jack Soo, Rani, Dirk Davis, Skeets, Mackenzie Garrison, Rip Hunter, Michelle Carter, Nurse Devlin, Monica Lake, and Doctor Shocker.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
The life of any comic book hero would be a lonely one if not for the many characters who have made up their supporting cast. Just as Superman has Lois Lane and Batman has Alfred, Booster Gold has also shared his adventures with quite a few people over the years. Today we look at one of those, Doctor Shocker.
Early in the super-heroing career of Booster Gold, while the self-satisfied young hero was posing with beautiful actresses in perfume advertisements, the Director of the 1000 was plotting his downfall. The 1000 had many employees, from the brutish Blackguard to the assassin Chiller. However, none was as important to the Director's plot against Booster Gold as the man they called Doctor Shocker.
We first meet the bad doctor in Booster Gold #9 (1986), where he was using his high-tech Psi-Trap to "drain the knowledge" of Benjamin "Benny" Lindgren and Martin "Marty" Kramer, the comic book artists working on the Booster Gold comic book. In the next issue (Booster Gold #10), Shocker is remotely monitoring Booster Gold's energy signature. By Booster Gold #11, he's graduated to hacking Skeets, an advanced 25th-century artificial intelligence.
Doctor Shocker escaped the 1000's underground lair before Booster Gold destroyed it (Booster Gold #12), and hasn't been seen since. Who was this mysterious villain that dressed like a surgeon but acted like a computer programmer? Why did he dedicate himself to making life difficult for Booster Gold? And what school gave him his doctorate in mad science?
We can, in fact, answer most of these questions. Obviously, a silly name like "Doctor Shocker" is an alias for a more familiar face. To determine just who he really is, let's look at some clues he left behind.
1. It's ridiculous to think that a pair of comic book artists would have any unusual, inside information about the heroes they wrote for. Therefore, we can assume that any knowledge gained by the so-called Psi-Trap was worthless. This implies that Doctor Shocker had the information he needed the whole time.
2. The 1000's plan required manipulating Skeets, but how could any 20th-century computer scientist expect to be able to reprogram 25th-century technology in a matter of minutes? Only if that computer scientist had experience with future tech.
3. Booster's final battle with the Director of the 1000 would result in his need to return to the future? As a direct result of Doctor Shocker's actions, Booster Gold would go on to meet Rip Hunter and reunite with his sister, Michelle, both integral members of the eventual Time Masters team. Note also that a supposedly reprogrammed Skeets ended up playing a key role in the Director's eventual downfall. Did Skeets' reprogrammer make a mistake, or was this betrayal his intention all along?
There is only one white-haired old man who has the knowledge of Booster Gold's life, a working familiarity with technology across the centuries, and a demonstrated history of working behind the scenes to ensure that Booster Gold becomes the hero he was always destined to be: Booster Gold himself!
It's no accident that Doctor Shocker managed to avoid meeting Booster Gold face-to-face. That prevented any potential time paradoxes. He'll use that tactic again when he'll need to guide his younger self to the right path during the fall of Coast City in Booster Gold volume 2 #30 (2010).
Past? Present? Future? There's no difference to a real Time Master.
Interested in meeting other "People in his Neighborhood"? Get to know Trixie Collins, Daniel Carter, Jack Soo, Rani, Dirk Davis, Skeets, Mackenzie Garrison, Rip Hunter, Michelle Carter, Nurse Devlin, and Monica Lake.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
In case you haven't heard, you'll find the 1000th issue of Action Comics at your Local Comic Shop today. The issue is a celebration not just of Superman, but also all the very talented writers and artists who have toiled for the last 80 years to bring comic book fans joy and inspiration.
Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens is one of those writer/artists. Jurgens not only drew the first appearance of Superman in the 1980s post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe (in Booster Gold #6!), he was instrumental in bringing us the death and return of Superman in the 1990s. As part of the celebration, he also pencilled one of the 11 different Action Comics #1000 covers!
As if that's not enough reason to celebrate, DC has also released a poster containing all 1000 Action Comics covers. That means it's also a Booster Gold poster! Decades before showing up on the cover of his recent team-up in Action Comics #993, Booster Gold got the better of Superman on the cover of Action Comics #594!
Here's to 1000 more adventures of Superman to come.
UPDATE: SuperPat dropped by the comments to tell us that Booster does make an appearance in Action Comics #1000! Everybody is getting in on the celebration!
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