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Monday, August 26, 2019

Yeah, But How?

I don't read Batman, so I missed it when Batman #72 came out back in June and finally answered a question we had about Batman #50.

You remember Batman #50, right? That's the one that was supposed to end with a wedding, but instead ended with Bane standing around with his pals. And Skeets.

© DC Comics
art by Mikel Janin, June Chung, Clayton Cowles

What was Skeets doing in a room full of villains? According to Batman #72, he was just another discarded tool.

© DC Comics
art by David Finch, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles

The "you" in the above text is Bane. So it's really Bane's fault that Booster Gold was a total idiot in Batman #45. I guess.

So Bane is so smart he knew how Booster's meddling with history would ruin the world in exactly the way that he needed it to? And he knew that Booster would go out of his way to tell Batman what he experienced in the pocket universe that his idiocy created?

And while we're on the topic, if Skeets' only purpose was to depress Bruce Wayne, why did Bane bother to recover Skeets after Batman #47?

Guh. Whatever, Tom King. Whatever.

Comments (3) | Add a Comment | Tags: batman david finch jordie bellaire june chung mikel janin skeets tom king

Monday, June 3, 2019

Character Spotlight on Skeets

The life of any comic book hero would be a lonely one if not for the many characters who have made up their supporting cast. Just as Superman has Lois Lane and Batman has Alfred, Booster Gold has also shared his adventures with quite a few people over the years. Today we look at one of those, Skeets.

The People in His Neighborhood: spotlighting the characters who have made Booster Gold such a star

Most heroes select a sidekick to help assist them in their heroic mission. Not Booster Gold. No, he wouldn't even *have* a heroic career without the assistance of his robotic sidekick, Skeets.

Skeets, a BX9 Security Robot, was Michael "Booster" Carter's co-worker at the Space Museum in the 25th century when Booster got the idea to steal a time machine and travel into the past to begin a life of super-heroics. Realizing he would need help, Booster added to his list of crimes by also kidnapping Skeets.

© DC Comics

Rather than resent being displaced from his own time, Skeets embraced the opportunity for a first-hand observation of what to him was ancient history. Using his database of cultural knowledge, Skeets aided Booster in assimilating into 20th century culture, including supervising his tactics on the way to establishing Booster Gold as a powerhouse of both business and crime-fighting.

Due in part to Booster's immaturity, their relationship remained largely one-sided. Though Booster called Skeets a confidant, the robot was often treated exclusively a coach and mentor. When Booster left Metropolis to join the Justice League International, he deactivated Skeets and had him placed in storage, consulting him only on rare occasions when he needed access to 25th-century knowledge or technology. Despite this mistreatment, Skeets held no ill-will towards his former kidnapper. When Blue Beetle used alien technology to replace Booster's 20th-century power suits, Skeets voluntarily became the new suit's operating system, reuniting Booster and his sidekick in an unorthodox way.

© DC Comics

This coupling of sidekick and powers would last through several different super suits. However, when Booster rejoined the Justice League International's successor group, the Super Buddies, Skeets was once again left behind. At least this time, Skeets was allowed to go his own way. The two drifted apart, and it would be at least a year before Booster learned that Skeets had been captured and disassembled for parts by Maxwell Lord's anti-hero Checkmate organization.

Though the details remain a mystery, Booster Gold traveled through time and repaired his robotic friend, this time using the body of a 25-century valet robot. Thanks to the timely intervention of Rip Hunter (with an assist by Doctor Magnus), Booster was able to save Skeets from a second destruction by Mister Mind in an adventure that led to Booster and Skeets joining Hunter in his mission to protect the correct course of history. To this end, Skeets would take on more responsibility (and power), eventually leading to evidence that he was transcending his original programming.

Whether or not Skeets was truly evolving is a question left unanswered following Doctor Manhattan's meddling in the continuity of the DC Universe. In the aftermath, a new Booster Gold emerged accompanied by a new Skeets, this time an SKS-1 prototype soldier's assistant. The new Booster is less mature than ever before. Thankfully, the new Skeets, in addition to being even more powerful, is also more independent.

© DC Comics

Perhaps this third time around, Skeets will finally get the respect he deserves as Booster Gold's equal partner and not just another sidekick.

For a bit of insight into what Dan Jurgens was thinking when he created Skeets, see my Secret Origins interview. You can also click here to read my post from April 24, 2015.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Skeets Syndrome

There isn't much ambiguity about how Booster boosters feel about Skeets.

Last week's poll question: Is Skeets a sentient artificial being? (39 votes)

Is Skeets a sentient artificial being?

I'm one of the few who voted "no." Maybe I'm wrong. That's the best part of being a rational being: the ability to learn.

© DC Comics

Maybe one of these days DC will investigate Skeets' intelligence further in a future Booster Gold series. Skeets could teach us all a thing or two.

Comments (3) | Add a Comment | Tags: polls skeets

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Blade Runner 2462

I was in the beginning stages of writing another "People in His Neighborhood" Booster Gold supporting character post about Skeets when I got hung up on a single question: Is Skeets sentient?

It's not an easy question to answer. Putting aside the deeper philosophical and metaphysical quandaries of what reality is and whether anything truly has free will, let's focus on the arbitrarily narrow definition of a sentient artificial intelligence as a man-made creature that doesn't merely simulate human behavior but is functionally indistinguishable from a rational being.

This question is really integral to the development of Booster Gold as a heroic character. When Michael Carter stole his first Time Sphere to flee from the 25th century in Booster Gold volume 1, he forced Skeets to come with him. If Skeets is a glorified security camera, then the action was theft. However, if Skeets was a sentient employee, Booster is guilty of kidnapping.

© DC Comics

While Booster has usually treated Skeets as a coach and companion — usually referring to it with the masculine pronouns "he"/"him" — it's telling that Booster's twin sister, Michelle, has always treated Skeets like a second-class citizen. If sentient A.I. exists in the 25th century and Michelle's dismissive attitude is common, how is her behavior any different than the racism and sexism that cause so many societal problems of the 20th century? (If Skeets was a sentient machine forced to work as a slave for the Space Museum, would that make Booster a freedom fighter?)

The biggest obstacle to answering the question of Skeets' consciousness is the relatively few solo adventures it has had. Skeets has almost always been seen acting in service to Booster, who characteristically gives very little consideration to his floating "friend." (This shouldn't be considered as evidence against sentience. Selfishness has always been Booster's biggest flaw.) The only time that the reader has ever been given access to Skeet's thoughts were late in the run of Booster Gold volume 2. Those few panels imply that Skeets was gaining a sentience it was previously denied.

© DC Comics

Then came the New 52. Convergence Booster Gold revised Skeets' origin. This time, Booster stole Skeets from its well-armed "corporate overlords" via a briefcase. Once again, the question of sentience remains unaddressed. Theft? Kidnapping? Emancipation? The answers remain vague.

Should Skeets be granted rights equal to any other human being, or should it continue to be treated like any other tool in Booster's high-tech arsenal? What do you think?

This week's poll question: Is Skeets a sentient artificial being? Please visit the Boosterrific Polls page to view results for this week's poll.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: polls skeets

Friday, January 11, 2019

Max Enemies

Max Lord is the big "winner" receiving a clear majority of the vote, so I feel comfortable declaring him Booster Gold's arch nemesis, Rebirth continuity be damned!

Last week's poll question: Which villain do you consider to be Booster Gold's arch-enemy? (47 votes)

Which villain do you consider to be Booster Gold's arch-enemy?

(If you voted "someone else," who did you have in mind? Dirk Davis?)

While we're on the subject of villains, someone has been making Booster Gold's life miserable recently in the pages of Heroes in Crisis. (We all agree Booster is innocent, right? Right.) The identity of the real culprit has been the subject of much debate recently as the series nears its halfway point.

One popular Internet theory is that the real villain is Skeets. This is mostly based on one panel in Batman #50 that remains unexplained. The link between these two stories is writer Tom King. Could he have been dropping Heroes in Crisis clues in Batman? I doubt it. I just can't believe that he'd crib so blatantly from 52.

The manager of my Local Comic Shop thinks that the mastermind behind the murders is Psycho Pirate. For those who don't know, Psycho Pirate — a character with key ties to the biggest crisis, Crisis on Infinite Earths — has the ability to manipulate emotions, a power that fits well into a story advertised as being about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (For what it's worth, PP is also in the aforementioned panel with Skeets in Batman #50. But then so was the Joker. Joker can't be behind all this, can he?)

Personally, I've decided that there aren't really any murders in Heroes in Crisis. I think it's all just one ongoing computer simulation designed to.... Well, I'm not sure what it's designed to do. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the matrix is. We'll all have to see it for ourselves.

If you need some evidence to support your pet theory, Vaneta Rogers put together a list of the clues at Take a look and see if you can't solve these crimes before Booster Gold does.

Comments (3) | Add a Comment | Tags: batman heroes in crisis maxwell lord polls skeets vaneta rogers villains

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