- Booster Gold
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Monday, March 21, 2022
Longtime Booster booster Morgenstern recently asked me a very good question:
Did you ever write an article about this dropped idea of making Tim Drake Blue Beetle and the Death of Booster Gold by Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon?
The answer is "no." And I'll correct that oversight right now.
Before I can explain, let me set the stage. The early 2000s were a lean time for Booster Gold. He made exactly two in-continuity, non-flashback appearances in 2001, both in very small parts (just a few panels) as set dressing for the "Our Worlds at War" and "Joker's Last Laugh" crossover events. Although Booster was still friends with Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle was finding much greater success as an associate of Oracle's Birds of Prey. That's where this story begins.
In Birds of Prey #39 (released in January 2002), Ted Kord is diagnosed with a heart condition that forces him to hang up his tights. However,Birds of Prey and Robin writer Chuck Dixon and his "Joker: Last Laugh" co-collaborator Scott Beatty didn't intend this to be the end of the Blue Beetle, just an opportunity for a passing of the mantle.
The plan, as Beatty revealed on his blog in a 2019 post titled "THE CLIP FILE: How Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon *ALMOST* Turned Robin Into BLUE BEETLE!," was that "a gravely injured Ted Kord would find a replacement Blue Beetle while he convalesced... assuming that he would survive at all. It would be a *paid* position occupied by a cash-strapped Tim Drake (a.k.a. Robin III)." Christopher Irving's 2007 encyclopedic The Blue Beetle Companion confirms the plan, quoting Dixon as elaborating that eventually "an invalid Ted Kord would direct a half dozen Blue Beetles (all with different talents) to battle international crime."
What makes all of this relevant to Booster Gold fans is exactly how Beatty and Dixon intended to launch this enterprise in the pages of a proposed mini-series they called Blue Beetles. Quoting from the mini-series pitch proposal on Beatty's blog:
We throw down the gauntlet with the death of Booster Gold.
With ground-support from Ted, Danny and Star begin an investigation into the events surrounding Booster Gold's demise, a mystery which provides the backbone to the first few issues. Their trial-by-fire begins as Ted launches an ambitious campaign to reel in any Beetle foes still at-large, sending his apprentice Beetles to capture a string of rogues and offer them clemency if they swear to renounce villainy; otherwise it's a one-way ticket to the Slab. And now that it's tucked away in polar isolation at the bottom of the world, NOBODY wants to go to the Slab.
Meanwhile, Booster is celebrated on the evening news, showered in fifteen minutes of celebrity as unofficial biographies are published, how-to videos are hawked, and the promotional machine grinds dollars out of heroic sacrifice.
The kicker is this: Booster's death was faked by Maxwell Lord in order to capitalize on the cult of celebrity surrounding young stars dying young and leaving beautiful corpses. Lord plans on marketing the Booster Gold bio and telepic, then engineering a ballyhooed superhero resurrection.
Booster and Max are in cahoots, hoping to spike interest in the hero's eventual resurrection and subsequent product endorsement deals. What's worse, both Booster and Max were willing to silence Ted Kord in order to maintain the ruse.
That's... just.... Wow.
Although this particular pitch was denied by the Powers-That-Be at DC at the time for unspecified reasons — and I can't say I'm too saddened by that particular decision — it's amazing to see how many of these ideas presage what would actually unfold in the hands of other writers. Remember, this was 2002. Max's villain turn in Countdown to Infinite Crisis was still three years away, and Booster's death would be a key component of Infinite Crisis-follow up 52!
For more information on this particular footnote of DC history, I encourage you to read Beatty's full proposal for Blue Beetles on his blog, scottbeatty.blogspot.com.
Thanks for helping me correct my oversight, M.
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