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Friday, April 20, 2018

It's A Horrible Life

© DC Comics

On Monday, I expressed my sincere apprehensions about what I was seeing in previews for Batman #45, released on Wednesday. Now that I've had the issue and read it multiple times, I am relieved to say that my worst fears weren't realized. Writer Tom King's version of Booster Gold isn't a monster. He's just an idiot.

It’s easy to see what King was trying to do with the issue. Clearly influenced by the best deconstructionist superhero tales of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, he seeks to show us A) how the world is worse off without a Batman, and more importantly, B) how Batman isn’t the same sort of hero as Superman. This comparison is overt, as Moore’s “For The Man Who Has Everything...” from the 1985 Superman Annual #11 is specifically mentioned as Booster’s motivation. (Is it mere coincidence that the issue was released the same day as Action Comics #1000?) Unfortunately, the clumsy execution of King’s plan leaves a lot to be desired.

The biggest problem here is that while King’s inspiration for the story might have been high art, his template for Booster Gold was a Saturday morning cartoon, specifically Diedrich Bader's performance in Justice League Action where the character has been stripped down into a two-dimensional jester. Sadly, what works in an 11 minute cartoon for kids doesn't translate into the traditional DC Universe, especially not in the heavy story King is attempting here. Booster’s irresponsible attitude about a world gone mad – a world he created! – isn’t fun. It’s downright villainous.

Poor characterization isn't limited to Booster Gold. Frankly, Booster and Skeets are the only characters in the story given anything resembling depth. One-note Dick Grayson murders heroes. Jason Todd sells weapons. Bruce Wayne is a selfish fop. These aren't characters; they're paper dolls. Why? How? It doesn't matter. Like the graphic violence, characterization exist herein only for shock value. King explains nothing.

In a story celebrating comic book continuity and superhero motivation, there's no need for Booster be so irritatingly incompetent. With a little more effort, King could use Booster to accomplish all of the goals necessary to drive the plot without ignoring years of character development. And if Booster wouldn't work for where the story needs to go, there are plenty of other established characters in the DC Universe who King could have used to achieve the same ends without libeling Booster Gold’s character. Anyone who has read Superman Annual #11 should be able to come up with a few. (Chronos, Per Degaton, Professor Zoom, Time Trapper, Doctor Destiny, and Bat-Mite come to mind off the top of my head.) Back in the day, writers were even known to create new characters when they needed them for specific tasks.

I applaud King's intentions. I would always prefer for a writer to aim high and miss than not try at all. But in this case, in light of his clear misunderstanding about who Booster Gold is in the DCU and his disinterest in exploring the characters he is working with, the best I can say about Batman #45 is "it could have been worse." I'm not particularly eager for the follow up.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Definitely NOT Awesome

© DC Comics

NO. Not even slightly awesome, you monster.

The above image was released late last week as part of the preview for this week's Batman #45. While I'm always reluctant to pre-judge a story before I've read it, I have to say that in all the years I've been tracking Booster Gold appearances, nothing has disappointed me more than what I've seen from this issue so far.

Before you read any further, know that I'm about to rant about what could be considered spoilers.




Still here? As we knew from last week's released previews, this story opens with Tony Daniel's drawing of Hal Jordan blowing out his brains with his ring. Very violently. Very graphically. Even putting aside the moral issues of suicide, that's not the sort of thing I want to see in my DC Comics.

But now we have the dialog that goes along with those pictures, and Jordan's death is nothing nearly so disgusting as the words coming out of Booster Gold's mouth in reaction.

Watching a man shoot himself in the head IS NOT AWESOME. Not a little bit. Not kind of. Never.

At no point in the published history of Booster Gold has the character ever expressed such an ugly sentiment. The character is a hero, yes a hero who has made many foolhardy decisions over the years, but never has he willfully allowed harm to come to someone else or glorified such violence or death in any way. To see those words coming out of the mouth of Michael Jon Carter literally turns my stomach.

It only makes matters worse knowing that this sort of shocking vulgarity isn't in a standalone Elseworlds book, but in Batman, DC's best selling ongoing title. I haven't purchased an issue of Batman in years, but I cringe at the thought that some parent might buy this to introduce Booster Gold to their kid. (As if shooting violence wasn't commonplace enough in schoolyards in 2018.)

If I sound like a sanctimonious prude, maybe I am. Maybe I'm overreacting because it's my hero espousing something I'd expect to hear from an ISIS recruit. But what would fans of Batman or Superman think if their idols said such things? In the DC Universe, Booster is a celebrity. In the real world, if a Kardashian reacted this way, how would their fans respond? I doubt there'd be much applause.

To be fair to issue writer Tom King, I haven't read the full story, and perhaps this is a trick. Maybe that's not Booster at all, but someone wearing his skin. Maybe it's an alternate evil timeline with a Booster Gold too immature or psychologically damaged to understand the callousness of his words. Maybe this takes place inside a simulation, and Booster's comment is a clumsy response to a well-crafted high-definition computer generated hologram. Maybe the Cosmic Cube has turned my hero into a Nazi. Weirder things have happened in comics. Still, I find it revolting that any DC Comics character should be implied to think such thoughts, much less give them voice.

Batman #45 gets the benefit of my doubt. But even if King and Daniel find some way to redeem the story, I doubt I'll be recommending anyone buy it. Personally, I don't think anyone needs a comic in their collection that shows Green Lantern's brains falling out of his skull while someone else laughs at it.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

For the Man Who Has Everything (But Parents)

I gave you the new cover to Batman #46 Friday, and the DC Batman Panel at C2E2 this past weekend gave us some exciting news about what you might find behind that cover.

Fair warning: the following post has light spoilers for next week's Batman #45, so cover your eyes if you don't want to know too much before you have the issue in your hands.




Still here? Ok. One additional warning! The preview images DC has released for this issue that can be found at any of the following links are uncommonly violent. (I might be getting prudish in my advancing age, but golly gee, maybe the Comics Code wasn't such a bad thing.)

Now, as I was saying, according to Newsarama's coverage of C2E2, quote

DC Comics has confirmed during their Batman panel panel at Chicago's C2E2 convention that the Booster Gold team up arc starting in April 18's Batman #45 will take place in an alternate world where Booster Gold has gone back in time to save Thomas and Martha Wayne - and inadvertently prevents Bruce Wayne's birth.

That news seems to come directly from writer Tom King himself. Rich Johnson has more detailed spoilers at for those of you who really want the dirt.

The rest of us will find out what the big deal is next week when Batman #45 will be in our Local Comic Shops. I advise reading it on an empty stomach.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

New Beard for Batman

Earlier this week via Twitter, Tony Daniel revealed that the cover for Batman 46 has been changed from the cover solicited. I have to say, I like the new cover much better. Just look at the crazy thing happening here:

© DC Comics

No, I'm not talking about gun-toting Batman or Batman Returns Catwoman. I only have eyes for Booster Gold's beard!

Facial hair is a rarity for Booster. It's certainly not something that Shag and Rob mentioned when they covered the character's vitals in their recent Fire and Water Network "Who's Who DC Universe Podcast." They're pretty thorough, though, so I'm sure they'll correct that oversight when they get around to doing the "Update '18" podcast.

To find out why Booster has grown a beard, I guess we'll all have to buy Batman #46 when it hits our Local Comic Shops on May 2.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rule of Three

We've known for a month that Booster Gold will be in Batman #45 this April. DC released solicitations for May 2018 yesterday, and now we know many issues of Batman he'll be appearing in in total. The answer: 3.

Written by TOM KING
"THE TRAVELERS" part two! Booster Gold's wedding present has screwed up Batman's past, and done even more damage to his present. Now, with the Caped Crusader himself refusing to cooperate, the only way for Booster to correct this runaway timeline is to get Catwoman on his side. But with her own past altered, can he make Catwoman recognize the qualities in her husband-to-be that brought them together in the first place? Plus, if Batman isn't doing his job, Gotham City may become way more dangerous than our bumbling time-traveler might be ready for.
On sale MAY 2 • $2.99 US

Written by TOM KING
“THE TRAVELERS” part three! As Booster Gold, Batman and Catwoman zero in on the time anomaly, what they find and their actions to correct it will have ramifications on all of the DC Universe. Tom King and Master Class artist Tony S. Daniel end their first story with a bang that will tee up the next big development in the Batman/Catwoman romance.
On sale MAY 16 • $2.99 US

"Bumbling" time-traveler? They must be talking about someone else. We'll find out more in May.

(Note: Booster also will appear in a very, very small part in the announced Final Crisis: The 10th Anniversary Omnibus hardcover coming in September. I mention that only because it's's goal to cover every appearance of Booster Gold, not because I recommend that you buy it. I'd certainly never recommend that anyone buy a $150 book for only one or two panels of Booster Gold. Three is my limit.)

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