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Showing posts 0-5 of 37 matching: j.m. dematteis

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, 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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Both Straight Man and Fool

In the comments of my blog post about the single greatest Booster Gold comic ever written (Justice League #4), there was some discussion about when exactly Booster's comic book portrayals turned from fun-loving but competent crime fighter (as portrayed in his own original series) to bumbling moron (as portrayed in 52 and just about everywhere since).

The timing of that change can be narrowed to shortly after the dawn of the 21st-century. No so coincidentally, that's about the same time that Blue Beetle's character also got an overhaul before coming to a very gory end.

Blue Beetle, who during the JLI years always played the fool in the original Blue and Gold dynamic, lost his sense of humor for his inclusion in the 1999 L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) mini-series reuniting the former Charlton Comics characters. For a few years following, he appeared much more prominently in DC Comics than his best friend, notably in issues of Birds of Prey, where he was diagnosed with a weak heart and semi-retired from heroics. This allowed his more serious demeanor a chance to take root with readers and editors alike.

I'd always assumed that was why, when Beetle and Booster were reunited in 2003's Formerly Known as the Justice League, the comedy roles of the two super buddies were swapped. However, when I put that question to JLI writer J.M. DeMatteis on Twitter last week, he revealed a different reason.

As I recall, we just wanted to flip things around.  Have Beetle mature some because of business, heart issues, etc.  But, in the end, they both remained idiots, in the best sense of the word! -- @JMDeMatteis on Twitter Feb 11 2020

Whatever you think of the change, you have to admit that "just because" is as good a reason as Beetle and Booster ever had for any of their hijinx.

And now you know the rest of the story. (Thanks to Ariel for inspiring this topic.)

Comments (3) | Add a Comment | Tags: ariel blue beetle interviews j.m. dematteis justice league international twitter.com

Monday, July 8, 2019

My Favorite Covers: Justice League 4

The old adage says never judge a book by its cover, but that's exactly what comic books expect you to do. If you like what you see on the cover, take a look inside!

Some covers do their jobs better than others. Some are truly outstanding in their own right. Among those is Kevin Maguire's composition for Justice League #4 (1987)

© DC Comics
Pencils by Kevin Maguire, Inks by Al Gordon

Maguire's mastery of body language and facial expressions was as important to the success of the "International" era of the Justice League as Keith Giffen's action-packed plots and J.M. DeMatteis' comedic dialogue. This cover doesn't need extra text to grab the reader's attention!

Look at Booster up there: the surprised underdog caught by a larger, unknown villain strong enough to defeat Green Lanterns, Earth's Mightiest Mortal, and (gulp!) Batman. It's a real David-and-Goliath scenario that will play out on the pages inside. Who wouldn't want to read that?

In addition to the promise of action, Maguire also echos the comedic tone of the writing inside with the "cheek"-y placement of that title logo. (Comics Code Authority approved!) Perhaps Booster is shocked that the solid-blue villain who defeated Martian Manhunter isn't wearing any pants. Watchmen was released concurrently with this title, so could that be Doctor Manhattan "moon"-lighting in the DC Universe? My curiosity is piqued! I guess I'll have to pick it up and look inside.

It happens that Justice League #4 doesn't just have one of my favorite covers. It is also my personal favorite Booster Gold story. It introduced Booster Gold to a whole new audience and did so in a way that demonstrated Booster's humanity and the value his powers could bring to the team. All that is summed-up on the cover. Brilliant!

What are some of your favorite covers?

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: covers favorite covers j.m. dematteis justice league keith giffen kevin maguire

Monday, February 19, 2018

Jurgens Plays Godfather

Aaron Young interviewed Dan Jurgens at Ace Comic Con 2017, and that interview has now appeared at ComicsVerse.com. Jurgens is unusually frank about his relationship with his most famous creation.

ComicsVerse: So, moving on, you've created a lot of iconic characters in comics. My favorite is Booster Gold, and you're written Booster Gold quite a few times, and I just wondered if you feel any sort of ownership over that character.

Whether you, you know, kind of have a sort of protective over that character. You know, have you ever had it where you're, like, read an issue written by anybody else and you're like, "Oh no, that's not what Booster Gold would do!" you know, or whatever, or, you know? Just talk about that, I’m just curious.

Dan Jurgens: Yeah, that happens but for the most part, you know, I've done most of the stories that were out there. And when Keith Giffen and Marc DeMatteis, for example, were using him in JUSTICE LEAGUE, Keith always said, "We're borrowing the character."

And I always looked at that as sort of like an Earth JUSTICE LEAGUE thing anyway which was just fine and I, you know, genuinely liked the dimension that Keith brought to the character, but for the most part, it's something I do enjoy doing. I don't know if ownership is quite the right word as much as kind of I suppose it's true that I’m sort of protective of the character 'cause I can kind of know where it can go and what it can do.

While Booster Gold belongs to DC Comics to use (or ignore) at their will, Jurgens can proudly take credit that no writer has had more of a hand in guiding and developing Booster Gold. He's written nearly a fifth of all the stories in which Booster Gold appears. Only Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis come close. (They combine to about an eighth.) There are few comic book characters in history that can boast such creative consistency over so many decades.

Distribution of stories among Booster Gold writers

You can find the whole interview at ComicsVerse.com.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: aaron young comicsverse.com dan jurgens interviews j.m. dematteis keith giffen writers


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