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Boosterrific.com: The Complete, Annotated Adventures of Booster Gold
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Friday, July 17, 2020

The Best of Booster Gold: Formerly the JL 4

When I first made my list of the twelve best Booster Gold comics, I decided that the Formerly Known as the Justice League mini-series belonged at number 7. But I wasn't sure which issue to spotlight.

Frankly, the entire mini-series is worth a read. It's a great call back to the best of the humorous yet heroic "Bwah-Ha-Ha" era of the Justice League International by the very creators who made that series such a hit.

Ultimately I've chosen to highlight issue #4 in part because it does such a good job of making the badly threadbare plot of a hero-vs-hero fistfight into a truly delightful read.

© DC Comics

The issue sees the newly formed "Superbuddies" super team abducted by the villanous Roulette and forced to fight one another to the death. The joke is that no one takes the Superbuddies seriously or expects them to win. This is in keeping with the reputation of the JLI itself, which was at something of a nadir when the issue was published. Of course, fans — and team creators Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis — knew that the JLI was far more competent than their reputation (even if the team itself didn't).

© DC Comics

In addition to the ton of jokes and familiar characterization of a bunch of friends who also happen to be teammates, this issue really highlights the strengths of original Justice League International artist Kevin Maguire's storytelling ability. His expressions, body language, pacing... it's all perfect.

© DC Comics

(And the cover's not bad either!)

If there's any complaint to be made about this series, it's that the comedic roles of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle have been swapped. Back in the day, Booster was the straight man. Here he's the fool. Some might find that offputting, but Booster boosters know it's only an act. Booster will do anything to be the center of attention.

Besides, you know it's only a comic book.

© DC Comics

As far as comic books go, it's a pretty good one. It easily deserves to be counted among the The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: best of blue beetle captain atom elongated man fire j.m. dematteis justice league international keith giffen kevin maguire mary marvel superbuddies

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Best of Booster Gold: Superman 74

We've reached the halfway point of my list of the twelve best Booster Gold comics, and number 6 is arguably the darkest story in the list. As you can see from the cover of Superman #74, Doomsday has arrived.

© DC Comics

This story is a tragedy. An alien monster has crashed on Earth and is marching his way towards Metropolis, leaving a trail of unimaginable destruction in its wake, including the broken body of Blue Beetle, as we see in the first panel.

Unfortunately for Mitch and his family, Doomsday's path leads straight through their house. Unfortunately for the Justice League, they are Mitch's only hope.

© DC Comics
© DC Comics

Dan Jurgens is at his best as a writer when he scales his stories down to a human level. That skill is on display here, as several early pages are devoted to the introduction of Mitch and his family. (Angry teenage Mitch is so very 90s, but that's when this comic was created.) They put a face on the danger, giving the audience a reason to care about Doomsday's rampage and creating a dramatic tension often missing from these sorts of super-heroic fisticuffs. We see the stakes driving the heroes to fight and win. If the heroes fail...

Well, heroes can't fail, can they?

© DC Comics
© DC Comics

The following page contains 8 consecutive panels of Booster Gold taking a beating unlike any he's seen before or since. It's not just brutal --

© DC Comics

The issue makes it clear that Booster's sacrifice is a heroic one. Booster Gold is giving his life so that others may live. That's the definition of a real hero.

And that's why I include it among the The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: best of dan jurgens doomsday justice league superman

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Best of Booster Gold: JL Quarterly 1

Let me go ahead and say this up front: While Justice League #4 is my personal favorite comic book of all time, Justice League Quarterly #1 is a very close second. That makes it an obvious choice to be in my list of the twelve best Booster Gold comics.

What makes Justice League Quarterly #1 so great? I'll let Claire Montgomery explain.

© DC Comics
© DC Comics
© DC Comics

In hindsight, a corporate-sponsored super team seems like such an obvious idea. In the late 1980s, corporate America was ascendant. When the Justice League went international with the backing of the United Nations, it was inevitable that private industry would want to strike back with super heroes they could control. Who better to lead such an endeavor than Booster Gold, the DCU's original Corporate Crusader?

© DC Comics

In a Justice League issue, it would be easy to treat the Conglomerate as either a bunch of bumbling boobs (like the Injustice League) or as a souless gang of misguided thugs (like the Rocket Red Brigade). Instead, writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis present the new team — including a couple of faces and names that will be familiar to "Justice League Detroit" fans — as a group worthy of respect, trying to do good inside the structure of an imperfect system.

The villains in this story aren't the corporate super team but their big-money bosses. With names like Mr. Whiteman and Mrs. Karpedeim, it's perfectly clear what we're supposed to think about a Capitalistic culture that values heroism as useful only so long as it sells another gallon of gas.

What happens when a group of well-intentioned heroes are confronted with the very difficult reality that saving money is more important that saving lives? Read on to find out.

© DC Comics

If you think a story of super hero ethics isn't interesting enough to hold your interest for 70 pages, this issue has a few surprises for you. In addition to a very cynical look at American business culture, there are several character-driven subplots playing out around around that core, most importantly including the relationship between Booster Gold and his former BFF, Blue Beetle.

© DC Comics

I love this book. I love the art by Chris Sprouse and Bruce Patterson. I love the Conglomerate's team uniform is a leather jacket covered with corporate patches. I love that team manager Claire Montgomery is Max Lord's ex-wife. I love that Booster Gold is forced to appear in a publicity photo with former business rival Lex Luthor. I love that Green Lantern foe Hector Hammond thinks he's not evil enough for corporate America.

And most importantly, I love that Booster and Beetle are making an effort to work through their differences.

In other words, I love Justice League Quarterly #1, and that's all the reason I need to include it among the The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever.

(Just so you know, this issue has very recently been reprinted — for the first time! — in the Justice League: Corporate Maneuvers collection. Next time you visit your Local Comic Shop, consider picking up a copy. I love mine!)

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: best of bruce patterson chris sprouse claire montgomery conglomerate j.m. dematteis justice league quarterly keith giffen

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Best of Booster Gold: Justice League 34

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.

© DC 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?

© DC Comics

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.

© DC Comics

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.

© DC Comics

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.

© DC Comics

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?)

© DC Comics

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.

Comments (0) | Add a Comment | Tags: adam hughes best of club jli history jm dematteis justice league america keith giffen kooeykooeykooey

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Best of Booster Gold: Booster Gold 18

The contrast between justice, vengeance, and redemption. Fate versus free will. Heroic self-sacrifice. All of those themes are factors in why I consider Booster Gold #18 among the twelve best Booster Gold comics.

The story, "Showdown," written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens, opens with a montage of Booster Gold in training. Though this is just a prologue to the main story, it sets the stage for what's coming. It lets us, the readers, see that Booster Gold is willing to put in some effort to be the best super hero that he can be. In other words, he's working at being good. If you've never read a Booster Gold story before, you now know where our hero stands.

© DC Comics

Booster Gold is the hero in this story, but not the protagonist. That role belongs to Broderick, a federal agent who always gets his man. While Booster walks the path of the hero, Broderick's road has become considerably darker ever since he let his self-righteous hatred be his guide.

© DC Comics

Broderick's obsession with Booster Gold is born from familiar circumstances. He had once been among Michael "Booster" Carter's biggest fans when the youngster was playing quarterback for Gotham University. As is so often the case, when Booster was caught cheating in a gambling scandal, Broderick took the news of his hero's transgression as a personal slight.

© DC Comics

After "Booster" Carter stole a time machine, Broderick swore he would bring him to justice, no matter how far he had to go to do it. The former object of Broderick's affection became an object of disgust and hatred.

He chases Booster to the past, where he is driven to break the law to survive. He soon confirms that Booster has become a hero to the masses, a revelation that only stokes his hatred. How backwards this 20th century where thieves are the heroes and policemen are driven to steal!

Broderick's determination finally pays off when he ambushes Booster Gold outside of his own mansion. Booster is accompanied by a date, but Broderick doesn't care. It's a sign of how far he's let his obession drive him from the path of the righteous that his prey cares more about the lives of bystanders than the dutiful "officer of the law" does.

© DC Comics

Booster leads Broderick on an excting chase through the back alleys of downtown Metropolis before the confrontation plays out exactly as the brilliant cover promised.

The law man has Booster dead to rights and is about to pull the trigger — becoming judge, jury, and executioner in one — when something unexpected happens. A second tragedy is unfolding nearby. Someone is robbing a liquor store. Booster uses the opportunity to remind Broderick just how far he's fallen.

© DC Comics
© DC Comics

The pair put aside their differences long enough to stop the robbery and save innocent lives, allowing Booster to demonstrate by action that he's not the the villain of Broderick's warped imagination.

© DC Comics

Afterwards, Broderick is faced with a harsh choice: punish "Booster" Carter for crimes he admits he has committed and take a hero off the streets, or allow a guilty man to walk away from justice for the sake of the greater good.

© DC Comics
© DC Comics

His world shattered, Broderick fades into the shadows. Did he ever find a way out? I sure hope so.

This issue touches on a lot of great questions about what a hero is. Can someone steal for the right reasons? What is the boundaries between vengeance and justice? It's the asking of those questions that makes this, without a doubt, one of The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: best of broderick dan jurgens history


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