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Friday, February 27, 2015

30 Years of Collars

If you're a die-hard DC Comics fan, you've probably noticed that the costume worn by the Teen Titans ally Red Star bore more than a passing resemblance to Booster Gold's original costume.

© DC Comics

Red Star's first appearance was in 1968. Back then, he was named Starfire (though he eventually lost that name to a certain alien princess). He returned to action in the early and mid-80s wearing the same costume: goggles, exposed face, high collar, star on his chest.

Is it possible that this minor Teen Titans acquaintance could have influenced Dan Jurgens when he created Booster Gold's costume a few years later? I put that question to Jurgens himself.

I really don't think so, though I was familiar with it.

More than anything, I always liked the cut-off mask like Kid Flash and Marvel's [Captain] Marvell had. The exposed hair added a dramatic flair. In addition, having goggles instead of a full face mask fit because he wasn't going to have a secret identity anyway.

So there you have it. Not Red Star, but Kid Flash!

The True Story of Booster Gold

Do you have any questions about Booster Gold's origins after 30 years? Speak up, and we'll investigate!

Comments (5) | Add a Comment | Tags: captain marvel dan jurgens kid flash origins red star true story

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Super Villains Don't Care About Copyright Laws

Another something I haven't had the time to mention yet: Major Force made a guest appearance in Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #20 wearing a costume that looks very familiar.

Booster Gold meets New 52 Major Force

I guess if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Major Force is paying Booster a big compliment. It probably doesn't help any that the artists for the book were Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund.

Late last month at, Russ Burlingame — the internet's premiere Booster Gold journalist! — asked Dan Jurgens why Major Force looked like Booster Gold's purplest fan. Major Force–is that the first time we've seen him in the New 52? I feel like there was a character who looked like that introduced in Ron Marz's Voodoo run, but I don't see anything to indicate it was him on the DC Wiki and I feel like they may have referred to him by another name there.

Jurgens: You were right the first time. Major Force made a brief appearance in the earlier days of the New 52, which is what we used for the overall character design. It was fun to push him back on stage. I remember noticing at the time that there's a pretty unmistakable similarity between this version of Major Force's look and Booster Gold's, excepting of course the color scheme. Did you notice that too?

Jurgens: I did notice it, which is why I did whatever I could to work away from it, mostly emphasizing Force's bulk.

Jurgens is right, this "Major Force" design did show up in several issues of Voodoo. However, that character was not Captain Atom's old foe Clifford Zmeck but Blackhawk agent Major "Black Jack" Bolton. Bolton was clearly decapitated long before Voodoo was canceled. Is Jurgens' Major Force Zmeck or a reincarnated Bolton? (Major Force has survived some pretty gruesome injuries in the past.)

Back when Booster debuted in the 1980s, it could be argued that his costume had been strongly "inspired" by the costume worn by the Soviet hero Red Star. Since the Communists don't believe in personal property, Red Star's emblem, cowl, goggles, and high collar designs were destined to be copied by a Capitalist hero with good fashion sense. But in the contemporary DCnU of the 21st century, you'd think that a big celebrity like Booster Gold would have a good copyright lawyer on retainer to deal with copycats like Black Jack and Major Force. Maybe Booster's trying to keep his head down on this issue. His past isn't exactly spotless, after all.

Booster, give Batman a call. The lawyers working for Batman, Inc. must know a thing or two about dealing with intellectual property infringement cases by now.

Comments (0) | Add a Comment | Tags: black jack costumes dan jurgens major force norm rapmund red star russ burlingame

Friday, April 1, 2011

From Each According to His Ability

As Vladimir Lenin once said, "capitalists are no more capable of self-sacrifice than a man is capable of lifting himself up by his own bootstraps." Heroes should be selfless men of the people, not shameless self-promoters. With your life on the line, you would hope for someone willing to risk their life for yours. You would want a hero like Red Star.

© DC Comics

Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions about the DC Universe is that all of the greatest heroes are American, and therefore that Americans are winning the heroic arms race. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The other first world powers also have their champions of the oppressed, and few are as celebrated as Russia's Leonid Kovar, better known by his code name, Red Star.

Red Star was the son of an archaeologist who set out to prove that the 1908 Siberian Tunguska Event was not a meteor strike but the crash landing of an alien vessel. Scientifically adept, young Kovar eagerly aided his father in locating the unworldly craft which unexpectedly bestowed upon him superhuman speed, stamina, strength, energy manipulation, and flight. Since that time, Kovar has used his new-found abilities to fight for his homeland as a selfless agent of the Russian government.

© DC Comics

In his early days as the original Starfire -- a code name reflecting the origins of his powers -- Kovar wore a green costume similar to those of his Western counterparts. This costume was for propganda purposes only; Red Star needed no technological gadgets or cumbersome robotic sidekicks to augment his inherent power. His costume included goggles and a high collar with a star prominently visible on the chest. This costume looked so good, just like his original code name it would later be copied by Western heroes. Kovar has changed his costume several times since, but each has prominently featured his trademark red star.

Lamentably, the unimaginative and misguided Titans would "borrow" Kovar's original code name for their new alien teammate. This forced Kovar to change his own nom de guarre to the more fitting Red Star to avoid confusion. The Red Star is an artifact of Russian history and a potent symbol of the Communist Party that Kovar has long championed. Unfortunately for Kovar, the theft of his original code name has proven to be the least of his concerns.

© DC Comics

Fate has been unkind to Leonid Kovar. He was ridiculed in his first encounter with the West for failing to prevent a simple jewel theft. Though he would eventually prove himself to the Teen Titans, their mutual respect has always remained strained by the differences in their personal and political ideologies.

Over time, Red Star gained greater and more positive notoriety in the Western world as his exploits grew. He nobly fought beside the heroes of the Crisis on Infinite Earths to save mankind, including defeating a Tyrannosaurus Rex in single combat. (Unlike certain self-promoting American heroes who merely boast of plans to fight dinosaurs, Red Star simply gets it done.) When Red Star makes headlines, it is because his exploits are newsworthy, not because he seeks publicity or fame.

© DC Comics

Otherwise, Red Star has not been without more than his share of tragedies. Kovar's first love was killed as an unwilling pawn in a madman's game of international espionage. Red Star has been attacked by his countrymen, temporarily exiled from Russia, and seen his father executed as a traitor to the Russian government. Worse, Red Star was unable to prevent his new family from being slaughtered by a rampaging Superboy-Prime.

"Living life is not like crossing a meadow," reads the Russian proverb. Forged by his trials, Red Star has emerged a stronger and even more dedicated champion of justice. He is now recognized as an official State Protector of Russia, a title he takes very seriously. Red Star remains loyal to his friends and views many Western heroes as comrades even if they are still blinded to his selfless heroism by their political differences. self-interested, fame-obsessed American heroes may make for good headlines, but when you need a real hero, look for the Red Star.

© DC Comics

See more fine heroes at these other fine sites:

FIRESTORM FAN: The Source for DC Comic's Nuclear Man!
THE INDIGO TRIBE: Green Lantern Reviews and Commentary
DC BLOODLINES: Covering a Variety of DC Comics Characters
POWER OF THE ATOM: Celebrating the Tiny Titan and Captain Atom
THE IDOL-HEAD OF DIABOLU, a Martian Manhunter Blog
SPEED FORCE: Following the Flash, the Fastest Man Alive

Comments (12) | Add a Comment | Tags: april fools heroism holidays red star

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