- Booster Gold
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Friday, October 16, 2020
In Booster Gold Volume 2, our hero became a time travelling policeman, someone whose job was to travel through time and ensure that history unfolds correctly. Given that the DC Universe has a propensity for frequent, reality-shifting Crises, the obvious question becomes "what is correct"? What history can be changed, and what can't?
To teach Booster Gold (and his audience) about the limits of interfering with history, the original Time Master, Rip Hunter, sends Booster back to one of the most known and respected stories in DC Comics history: The Killing Joke. Booster soon learns there is nothing funny about it.
What follows are about a dozen pages of Booster Gold (and Skeets!) having his shiny butt handed to him by the Joker and his goons. Over and over again, Booster tries to prevent the Joker from brutalizing Barbara Gordon. Over and over again he fails.
It's not always an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one — especially when you realize the gambit Hunter is playing and at what personal cost. It is also a valiant definition of true heroism courtesy of writer Geoff Johns. No matter how many times Booster Gold gets knocked down, he always gets back up again. What a guy!
It should be noted that a large part of what makes this light-on-dialogue book such a great read is the art, which Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund intentionally based on the original material drawn by Brian Bolland.
While legendary writer Alan Moore always gets most of the credit, Bolland's detailed and disturbing art is no small part of what has made The Killing Joke an enduring classic, and he deserves some recognition for making Booster Gold #5 one of The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever.
Friday, September 18, 2020
If you've been keeping track of my list of the twelve best Booster Gold comics, you know that we've reached number 9. More importantly, we've reached a turning point in the history of Booster Gold.
By 2007, Booster Gold was widely recognized as a laughingstock, has-been as a former member of the long-derided Justice League International. Booster Gold Volume 2, Number 1 begins the story of how Booster started his second act as The Greatest Hero The World Has Never Known!
As it happens all too often, the real trouble starts when Booster finally gets what he has sought since his earliest appearances in Booster Gold Volume 1: the acceptance of his peers.
As you can see, this issue is a great jumping on point for new Booster Gold fans. Never read a comic with Booster Gold before? No problem. Writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz make the issue accessible to casual Justice League fans and longtime Booster Gold fans alike.
It's not an exaggeration to say that without the changes to Booster's status quo that were begun in this story, significantly fewer readers would even care which comics should be considered The Best Booster Gold Stories Ever!
Friday, August 14, 2020
My list of the twelve best Booster Gold comics is presented in chronological order of publication. Otherwise, entry number 8 would have appeared much higher.
May I present to you the glory that is 52 Week Fifteen, the "Booster Gold Memorial Issue" and one of the earliest inspirations for what would become Boosterrific.com.
Art by J.G. Jones, color by Alex Sinclair
Spoiler Alert: Booster Gold dies in this issue.
For most of the early 2000s, Booster Gold was an afterthought, a wash-up has-been of a hero out of the public eye. His time in the shadows was preparing him for a new turn in the spotlight. But before Booster could soar, he had to fall. When Booster Gold does something, he doesn't settle for half measures.
If I didn't know better, I'd say don't be so hard on yourself, Booster. But this is only the first level of the inception.
Re-reading those panels once you learn who's wearing the Supernova costume and why, you'll start to see the play within the play. (Booster Gold as a Shakespearean tragic hero? Yes, please!) Who can't respect a character who is willing to go that far to save his friends?
I'm hesitant to say too much, as the Booster Gold story running throughout the ensemble series is as much a mystery as it is a tale of redemption. If you've never read 52 cover to cover, do yourself the favor of correcting that mistake. With all due credit to every writer, artist, and editor involved (including Dan DiDio), I say that 52 is about as great as long form American super hero comics storytelling can get.
And issue 15 is particularly good, certainly good enough to be included among the twelve best Booster Gold comics.
Friday, July 17, 2020
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.
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).
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.
(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.
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.
Friday, June 19, 2020
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.
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.
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?
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 --
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.
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