- Booster Gold
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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.
Friday, April 17, 2020
Tired of being trapped in the house with your family? Would a trip to a tropical island resort hit the spot right about now? How about revisiting Club JLI!
Part of the fun of Booster Gold is that he's not the straightest of arrows. Sometimes he gets up to shenanigans that would make other heroes blush, none bigger than the time he and his BFF Blue Beetle established the casino resort on KooeyKooeyKooey in Justice League America #34.
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite covers for two very important reasons: the boobs beside the pool.
Obviously, the boobs I'm talking about are Blue Beetle (with his scarab-pattern swim trunks!) and Booster Gold. But there is so much else to enjoy in this busy comedic scene, like level-headed team leaders Batman and Martian Manhunter holding back a raving Maxwell Lord on the left, and on the right, criminals Major Disaster and Big Sir sneaking over the hedge with their ill-gotten gains.
All that and, of course, Fire displaying the best of her Brazilian charms in a stunning two-piece bikini and swim skirt. Her expression tells us very clearly what she thinks about the two knuckleheads responsible for the hijinks erupting around her. Good ol' Bea.
This issue was released in 1989, and it's hard to believe that artist Adam Hughes had only been working professionally for two years at the time. Hughes has since become world-famous for his pinup covers of beautiful heroines, including but hardly limited to Wonder Woman and Catwoman. As you can see from the variety of poses and expressions on this cover alone, Hughes deserves recognition and high praise for far more than just cheesecake.
I have to admit this cover belongs to one of my favorite issues, as those of you familiar with my recent list of 12 Best Booster Gold Stories Ever already know. I'll explain why next week.
Stay tuned, Booster boosters!
Monday, November 6, 2017
While I like most Booster Gold comics, I love some more than others. Among my favorites is Justice League Quarterly #1, the first appearance of the Conglomerate, released on this date in 1990.
The issue's story, "Corporate Maneuvers (and leveraged buyouts)," was a logical counterpoint to the Justice League International era. Unwilling to sit back and let the nations of the world monopolize influence on the activities of formerly independent super heroes, the major international corporations of the DC Universe developed their own team: the Conglomerate. It was only natural that the original Corporate Crusader himself would lead them into battle.
The Conglomerate went on to much early success which created tension with Booster's friends in the JLI, especially Blue Beetle. I probably don't need to tell you that the two teams have to overcome their jealousy of one another to save the day, but it's very satisfying when the inevitable finally happens.
You probably won't see this issue on any "must read" list for new Booster Gold fans. I admit that it's mainly a Justice League International story. However, Booster Gold does have a starring role, and the story does directly address the dichotomy of Michael Jon Carter's "shallow" public persona versus his more noble self-identification. For that reason alone, I think it's worth a look for people interested in the evolution of my favorite character.
Besides, who doesn't love that leather jacket?
In honor of the issue's anniversary, here's Adam Hughes' original pencil work for the cover — an homage to Kevin Maguire much duplicated "crowded elevator" cover for Justice League #1 — as published in Back Issue #2 (February 2004). As you can see, an uninvited guest crashed this party! Click the image to embiggen.
Here's to the good old days!
Friday, October 24, 2014
If you aren't following Futures End but you are an obsessive Booster Gold collector (you know who you are), then remember to grab a copy of Futures End #25 at your Local Comic Shop this week. It's your first chance to get a Ryan Sook-drawn Booster Gold.
Beware: Booster is clearly visible just above the masthead, but he appears nowhere in the pages within. This isn't the first time Booster has appeared on a cover but not the pages in between. That would have been Justice League International #39 in 1990. In that case, the artist was the incomparable Adam Hughes. At least when Booster appears only on covers, the art tends to be pretty good.
(FYI: IF you aren't regularly reading Futures End, don't expect the issue to make any sense. As a stand alone issue, boy, is this thing impenetrable.)
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