- Booster Gold
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Friday, June 26, 2020
Not so long ago, Booster booster Fin called my attention to a comic I had long overlooked. It wasn't a missed Booster Gold appearance. Not quite, anyway.
Just see if this banter doesn't sound familiar:
art by David Williams and Kelsey Shannon
Those panels are from The Authority: The Lost Year, a series in which the Authority bounced from one alternate universe to another. (This was back in 2010, before the New 52 folded the Wildstorm Universe into the mainstream DCnU.)
Issues #8 and #9 were written by Grant Morrison, Keith Giffen, and J.M. DeMatteis and featured an alternate universe in which the local Authority looked and acted a lot like a particular, best-selling DC Comics team of the late 1980s.
The meta-textural take on the Justice League International by the JLI's original writing team is delightful, especially as contrasted with the modern, no-nonsense Authority concept (itself strongly reminiscent of the extreme 1990s love affair with "mature" sex and violence content).
As you can see, that's Blue Beetle in the role of the Authority's Midnighter (a Batman-like vigilante) and Booster Gold as Apollo (whose character is a riff on Superman — so fitting!) In their original continuity, Apollo and Midnighter are a homosexual couple, allowing the issue's writers to directly tackle the longstanding Boostle phenomenon 'shipping Blue and Gold into a romantic relationship.
I'm sorry I hadn't realized this book existed sooner. Thanks, Fin.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
A recent clickbait listicle at CBR.com written by Brett Hoover has the very pointed title "Justice League: 5 Reasons Why Blue Beetle Is The Most Annoying Member (& 5 Why It's Booster Gold)."
I was initially going to let this obvious bit of fanboy-baiting slide, but then I decided that if I wasn't willing to fight for Booster Gold, who would? So in the interest of giving equal time to Booster bashers, let me directly address those 5 reasons. (I'll leave it to others to defend Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes.)
Reason 5. Booster Gold: Believes Himself To Be More Powerful Than He Really Is
Superheroes have egos. In fact, in most cases that is what makes them super as they are constantly trying to improve themselves to live up to their own and others' expectations of them. That said, in the case of Booster Gold, it is just sad how he tries to portray himself as one of Earth's mightiest heroes when, in fact, he is just a chump in a costume. What is even sadder is that, because of his enormous ego, he doesn't even notice that others see through his facade.
No one can deny that Booster Gold has an over-sized ego, but if the premise is that he's the worst Justice Leaguer, the real question is whether his ego is more over-inflated than other Leaguers. I'd say Booster's sense of self-importance, while impressive, is dwarfed by the runaway delusions of self-important grandeur often displayed by the likes of Batman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, or
Parallax Extant Hal Jordan.
Reason 4. Booster Gold: Not Earth's Mightiest Hero
Certain superheroes seek to earn their place in the top ranks of the Justice League. Many work for years to even get admitted to the A-level superhero squad. While all are heroic in their own way and are confident in their own powers, Booster Gold takes his accomplishments and quadruples the amount of importance his actions really played in any situation. It isn't wrong to be confident but confidence is something that is obtained through surviving the tough battles, not just given like he wants it to be.
This sure sounds like a duplication of the first complaint. No less a talent than Geoff Johns dubbed Booster Gold "The Greatest Hero You've Never Heard Of" explicitly because when a time-cop like Booster Gold does his job correctly and saves a multiverse, you don't see the tough battles he fought on your behalf. If someone has to be a publicly recognized, best-selling A-lister before they join the league, someone might want to break the news gently to Martian Manhunter, Red Tornado, and Firestorm.
Reason 3. Booster Gold: Attention Seeking Superhero
Booster Gold isn't known for his modesty when it comes to the good deeds he has committed. In fact, he oftentimes hopes and prays that there is a camera on each corner taking his picture as he saves the day. This attention-seeking aspect of his persona leaves many superhero allies with a bad taste in their mouth when forced to team up with him. Yet, instead of realizing how pathetic such a demeanor truly is, he instead begins to believe their animosity is because of his true heroism.
Sure, Booster has frequently lamented not receiving the earned respect of his peers, but that final sentence is patently untrue. I think you, like so many others before you, have confused him with Green Lantern, specifically Guy Gardner. Or Obsidian. Or Triumph. (Surely I'm not the only person who remembers Triumph, the founding leaguer who was lost in timeline shenanigans. Speaking of timeline shenanigans....)
Reason 2. Booster Gold: Mentored By His Own Son
Some of the worst things shows or comics about time travel have to deal with are the paradoxes these travelers inflict on time itself. Fans see it often enough by the Flash who has jumped around the past and the future on countless occasions. Booster Gold's attempts at messing with time ultimately resulted in him not only coming in contact with his son, but being mentored by the child he hadn't yet raised, along with having his future self shape his past self.
Time paradoxes make for bad Justice Leaguers? Sure, Triumph was a jerk, but time paradoxes are practically a prerequisite for league membership. Stalwarts like Superman and Supergirl had plenty of time-twisting adventures with the future's Legion of Super-Heroes in their past, Plastic Man's JLA adventures through time would prove him functionally immortal, and Moon Maiden seemed nice enough while she existed. (Can anyone explain why the Flash gets a pass here? Is it because the Cosmic Treadmill is cool? Because it is.)
Reason 1. Booster Gold: Runs From The Present To Live In The Past
There's a common time travel fantasy about going back in time with modern technology in order to impress the denizens of the past. If that weren't the main reason Booster Gold traveled in time, it wouldn't be so sad. Booster Gold was so unimportant in his time that the only way to feed his ego was to time travel to the past and show off his futuristic technology.
Well, you have me there. It's not a very heroic origin, is it? I guess there's a reason the Justice League never let a criminal like Lex Luthor join. Oh, they did? Well, then. Case dismissed.
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, May 8, 2020
What makes a hero super? The super powers! From awesome strength to zero-to-sixty speed, great superpowers are the most useful tricks in every famous costumed crime-fighter's tool kit. Michael Jon Carter knew this, and that's why he started his career with a telepathically-controlled flight ring.
As a student of history, Michael "Booster" Carter modeled his superhero persona on Superman. In addition to strength, invulnerability, and long-range energy beams, he'd also need to be able to fly. To that end, he stole a Legion of Super-Heroes Flight Ring, created by Brainiac 5 in the pages of Adventure Comics #329 (1965).
In its original design, the ring was a simple metal band that provided a telepathically-controlled anti-gravity effect for those Legionnaires who could not fly under their own power. They soon became standard issue equipment for all Legionnaires. Even Superboy had one, though he rarely had need of it except in those few cases where he lost his powers, such as the time he visited Earth's past and found it lit by a red sun.
(If you squint at the panel above, you can see a flight ring there on Superboy's hand in this panel from Adventure Comics #133, also in 1965. This is the first time Superboy wore a Flight Ring.)
Brainiac 5 wasn't content with having a ring that only allowed flight. He eventually gave the ring other abilities, including sending emergency distress signals. He also improved its appeal by converting it to a gold signet-style ring showing a raised letter "L" in the center (first appearance in Adventure Comics #347). That's how the ring looked when it found its way into Booster Gold's arsenal in Booster Gold #1 (1985), and that's more or less how it looked when Booster Gold joined the Justice League in Justice League #4 (1987) and escaped from a Bialyan prison in Justice League International #17 (1988).
Booster's ring was originally depicted with a letter from the Roman alphabet. However, it sometimes was seen showing Interlac, the "inter-galactic universal language of the 30th century" which first appeared in Adventure Comics #379 (1969). By Booster Gold volume 2 #1 (2007), Booster's ring had changed to the stylized "L" on a black background that had been in use since Legion of Super-Heroes #41 (1993).
How could one ring alter its appearance so much? Well, the Legion of Super-Heroes have a tendency for getting involved in reality-warping time travel shenanigans. In fact, that's how a Legion of Super-Heroes ring from the 30th century ended up in the 25th-century Space Museum in the first place.
When Booster's debut in the 20th century drew the attention of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Brainiac 5 realized he had to leave his own flight ring in 1985 for Booster to be able to steal it in 2462 (as seen in Booster Gold #6). Therefore, the ring was available for Booster Gold to steal only because he had already stolen it. (It's best not to think too hard about that.)
If it sounds like Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens was making things up as he went along, he was. His original plan, as revealed in Booster Gold: The Big Fall, was that instead of stealing Brainiac 5's ring from the Space Museum, Booster would have stolen Superboy's rarely used original ring from the Superman Museum!
That plan was scuttled by the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which erased Superboy's adventures from history. Thus the original origin of Booster Gold's flight ring became just one more casualty of the universe-destroying Anti-Monitor. What a jerk.
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