- Booster Gold
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Friday, April 26, 2019
It is a cliche in superhero comic books that characters die and then get better. The trope was well established by the time Superman's funeral ignited the general public's imagination, but ever since 1992, you simply aren't a real super hero until you've returned from "the other side" at least once.
Booster Gold joined that not-so-elusive club on this day in 1994 between the panels of Justice League Task Force #13.
At the time, the Justice League had been fractured into three groups with incompatible philosophies about what constituted "justice." Wonder Woman's "international" faction was most in line with the historic methods of the team as the strong arm of traditional, established political authorities. Martian Manhunter's task force was also aligned with the United Nations, though it preferred less direct means of diffusing problems. Captain Atom, on the other hand, championed more unconventional and forceful means of "extreme" justice, fighting fire with fire, so to speak.
These internal differences were exacerbated by the threat of the alien Overmaster, who had returned to Earth (after a previous encounter with the Justice League a decade earlier) in order to eradicate humanity. He had the power to do it, too. The dysfunctional Justice Leagues America, International, and Task Force have to put aside their differences to stop him. The crossover event, titled "Judgement Day," reads better than many of DC's official "Crisis"s.
Usually, comic book deaths are used as a cheap trick to ramp up the stakes, tug at the heartstrings, or inflate the threat posed by the bad guy. Booster was lucky. He died in a good story that respected established characterization. Specifically, his death was a side-effect of his overconfidence that history couldn't ever be changed, a misunderstanding with tragic consequences.
Of course, that wouldn't mean much unless Booster recovered to learn from his mistake. Spoiler alert: he did.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
You don't have to be French to be disheartened by the collapse of Notre Dame's center spire during Monday's fire. The building means a lot to students of art and history the world over.
For over 850 years, Notre-Dame de Paris has played a significant role in French history. It has seen countless weddings and funerals. Napoleon was crowned Emperor there in 1804. Its statues and stained-glass rose windows have inspired novelists, poets, and painters. Needless to say, it has seen better days.
It doesn't take a time traveler to know that Notre Dame will rise again. Godspeed, Our Lady.
Friday, April 5, 2019
I mentioned on Wednesday that I was going to be picking up a copy of Young Justice #4. I've actually been buying all the Wonder Comics titles, and I like most of them. (Wonder Twins is my favorite.) A great deal of what I like is the lighter tone of the books.
I have a tendency to complain about the "grim and gritty" nature of the contemporary DC universe. That makes me part of the problem. DC has, in fact, published plenty of "lighter" fare in recent years featuring the characters that I know and love, and I've done a poor job of spotlighting those. The best was unquestionably Justice League Unlimited, based on the Cartoon Network cartoon of the same name.
The series ran for 46 issues from 2004 through 2008. Booster Gold appeared in many of those, including issue 20, released on this day in 2006, in which he helped welcome Mary Marvel to the Justice League.
The issue is a great example of the series' traditional, family friendly super hero hijinx that got me into reading comic books in the first place. The story, "Just Us Girls" by Paul D. Storrie, borrows notes from Booster's mainstream DC universe history while introducing readers to Mary Marvel and "girl power" fisticuffs. It's a delightful read.
Advance reviews of the movie Shazam!, opening today and focused on Mary's big brother Billy, indicate that it aims to be in the same vein. I wish it was based on the original Fawcett Whiz Comics characters and not Geoff John's New 52 re-invention of them, but I applaud DC and Warner Bros for at least trying to reach an audience other than fans of the black-as-night Zack Snyder film universe. Beggars can't be choosers.
Monday, February 18, 2019
Superman #66 was released on February 18, 1992. It's a big issue featuring the conclusion of the battle between Earth's heroes and Brainiac's Warworld. The whole story was called "Panic in the Sky!" and has been reprinted in a collection by the same name twice.
The "Panic in the Sky" event is notable for several reasons, the biggest being that it filled a bit of a gap in Justice League history. At the time, the league was on something of a hiatus following the "Breakdowns" storyline. It would be rebooted the following month with an infusion of more members from the classic roster in Justice League Spectacular #1 (also written by Dan Jurgens), but in the meantime, it was up to Superman to gather the heroes when Brainiac threatened the earth.
(It also happens to share a title with a classic 1953 episode of television's Adventures of Superman. The theme of that episode, in which a heavenly body is hurling towards Earth, and our planet's imminent destruction can only be stopped by Superman, is echoed here.)
Booster plays a small role in the ensemble cast. In this issue he has not a single line of dialogue. He doesn't even make it onto Dan Jurgens' paired covers for this and the previous issue.
But that's not to say that Booster plays no role. Teamwork and trust are at the heart of this event, and Booster Gold has always made an effective team player thanks to his impenetrable force field and desire to earn the respect of his peers. This event introduces him to Maxima, his future Extreme Justice teammate, and Infinity Man, a criminally underused member of Jack Kirby's Fourth World. Count on Booster Gold to use Earth's impending destruction to build his social network.
"Panic in the Sky!" isn't groundbreaking. In many ways, it is the very definition of a mainstream American super hero comic. That's not always a bad thing.
Monday, February 11, 2019
It might be hard for modern audiences to imagine, but in the late 1980s, "Iron" Mike Tyson was considered invincible. He had never lost a fight. His bouts averaged barely more than 3 rounds. He usually had his opponent knocked out before the end of the first round. Then came Buster Douglas.
Douglas was a heavy underdog when the two heavyweight boxers met on February 11, 1990. Casino oddsmakers had Tyson a 42/1 favorite, meaning a $42 bet earned only $1. However, if Douglas was to pull off the upset, a $1,000 bet on Douglas would pay out $37,000. Too bad that could never happen.
Except it did.
It's been said that the unexpected and improbable Douglas victory was the biggest payout for a boxing match in history, making it a perfectly safe bet for a time-traveling sports fan looking to make a quick buck. Someone like Booster Gold.
Hmm. A sports gambler using time-travel to his own advantage? Someone should make a movie about that.
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