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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Good Old Ultra-Violence

Brady Kj recently found a Booster Gold cameo appearance in Harley Quinn #20. Naturally, I rushed out to my LCS to pick up a copy. Sure enough, Booster is on the first page as part of one of Harley Quinn's dreams.

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I should have stopped reading there. Every character in these pages is, to put it lightly, a jerk. None are worse than the protagonist, Harley Quinn.

There are always problems adapting a villain into a story protagonist. Harley Quinn is implied to have a warped morality, but no morality is present in this issue other than her own. She murders a customer service representative in the busy Los Angeles airport, steals a police car as an officer watches, and pushes a company mascot in front of a bus on a crowded street. This isn't "cartoon violence," either; characters are shown clearly suffering from Harley's actions. Yet no one in Harley's world even attempts to stop her from committing these villainous acts. The only "heroes" present are prostitutes in costumes. Do heroes only exist in Harley's dreams?

Issue co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti liberally sprinkled the same sorts of violence throughout All-Star Western, and it worked there. Bounty hunter Jonah Hex lived in an Old West devoid of law and order. More importantly, despite his flaws Hex was an anti-hero devoted to bringing to justice the fiends who committed these types of atrocities.

By comparison, Harley Quinn is set in modern-day Los Angeles starring a mentally damaged villain. L.A. is not a lawless place located sometime in the distant and barbarous past. What good are Batman and Superman if they let a Harley Quinn run free to murder citizens of America's largest city? What's the point of using L.A. as a backdrop if there's no police or other public servant striving to enforce the rule of law?

I guess what I'm saying is that it damages the verisimilitude a shared comic book universe if inhabitants of that universe are allowed to kill, maim, and steal without recourse. I guess I'm also saying that murder isn't a very funny punchline. But what do I know?

Harley Quinn #20 sold more than 56,000 copies, more than any single issue of Booster Gold outside the "Blackest Night" crossover event. So the next time you question one of DC's decisions, remember that sex, violence, and death sell comics, not story or character. The market has spoken.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

This Day in History: Darkseid Sees Gold

Booster Gold has appeared in three issues of Futures End. None of those appearances have lasted more than a couple of panels. The most recent appearance in Futures End #41 is a tiny inclusion in a collage of characters, leading Booster booster Brady Kj to comment in the Boosterrific Forum, "If that's all Booster is in this issue, it's hardly worth mentioning." Like them or not, brief cameo appearances aren't exactly a new trend for Booster.

For example, on this date in 2008, Booster Gold was seen in Death of the New Gods #6. Our hero appeared on a computer monitory as Darkseid observed the multiverse. Now, Darkseid and Booster Gold have some history dating back to Justice League International #21 (and they look like they'll have a future, if recent events in Justice League 3000 #14 are any indication). However, as in Futures End, Booster's role here is negligible.

More recently, Booster has appeared in issues of Justice League Dark and Grayson. Are these one-panel appearance worth tracking at In a word: yes.

They may seem inconsequential to the average reader (or sane comic book buyer), but they're like catnip for the obsessive completionist collector. This site could hardly claim to be a complete chronicle of Booster's adventures if I ignored comics where Booster made only cameo appearances.

I see it as my job to keep track and inform you of these appearances. I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not you care to buy them.

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