- Booster Gold
Showing posts 5-10 of 14 matching: best of
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.
Friday, May 15, 2020
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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