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Monday, February 27, 2012

This Day in History: Animal Man #22

On this date in 1960, the United States of America defeated the Soviet Union at ice hockey for the first time ever on their way to the gold medal in the Winter Olympic Games. On this date in 1980, Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" won the first (and only) Grammy in the Best Disco Recording category. And on this date in 1990, Booster Gold did what he does best: helped Animal Man steal a time machine in Animal Man #22.

Preceding the events of Animal Man #22, Animal Man's family had been killed by assassins. Desperate to turn back the clock and save his wife and children, Animal Man reached out to fellow Justice Leaguer Booster Gold in order to enlist the aid of Rip Hunter, the Time Master. Booster arranges the meeting, but is critical of Animal Man's behavior. (This scene will be re-visited in Time Masters #4, published three weeks later.)

© DC Comics

No doubt issue writer Grant Morrison was being intentionally ironic in having Booster Gold -- a hero with a questionable moral compass himself -- question "what kind of hero" Animal Man is for lying to Rip Hunter. A significant and recurring theme of Morrison's run on Animal Man was the value of comic book-style heroics and the over-simplified ethical values therein. Does Booster Gold have any right to criticize another hero? Does anyone?

It has never been revealed if Booster holds any animosity over being an accomplice in Animal Man's dishonest appropriation of Rip Hunter's time-backpack. Perhaps its no coincidence that these two characters who dress so similarly haven't shared an on-panel conversation since.

Despite Booster's brief appearance, Animal Man #22 is a journey through the emotional state of a very disturbed Buddy Baker and as such is part of a much larger narrative. The issue is recommended to fans willing to involve themselves in a meta-textual investigation of the nature of comics, but only if they are willing to read the issues that came before (several of which are referenced herein) and stick around for the long haul.

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