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Friday, May 14, 2021
If you visited your Local Comic Shop this week, you might have picked up a copy of the DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Celebration #1 like I did. The title is an accurate representation of what's inside the book, and I enjoyed the much-deserved spotlight on characters who too rarely get their share of the accolades.
If I had any problem with the book, it was only that it was too short. DC Comics has several other notable Asian characters worthy of more attention, characters like August General in Iron, Rising Sun, Maya, Doctor Light, and the head of Research and Design for Booster Gold International, Dr. Jack Soo.
In the spirit of further celebration of the contribution of Asian characters to the DC Universe, what follows is a post about Soo's trailblazing contribution to the cast of Booster Gold Volume 1 in the 1980s, previously published on the Boosterrific blog in 2015:
It cannot be denied that the original cast of Booster Gold was pale. Michael Carter was white. Trixie Collins was white. Dirk Davis was white. About the only characters in the first six issues who weren't white were Booster's orange cats, Jack and Jill. (Hey, it's not Booster's fault that Metropolis was settled almost exclusively by Western Europeans and Kryptonians.)
The eventual introduction of supporting cast member Dr. Jack Soo in Booster Gold #7 finally provided an injection of some much needed color.
Jack Soo was the best young inventor at Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories (aka S.T.A.R. Labs) when he was hired to create a new female super suit for Goldstar, Inc. He delivered on his reputation and earned his place in Booster Gold's supporting cast.
While Soo's specific heritage is never addressed, his tan skin, dark hair, and narrow eyes indicate Asian ethnicity. "Soo" also happens to be a Westernization of the fairly common Chinese surname "Su."
Of course, it's hard not to notice the sudden appearance of an ethnic minority in a comic full of white characters. But was Asian the right race for Booster Gold's first new supporting character? I mean, isn't "Asian scientist" a little cliched?
As always, I turned to creator Dan Jurgens for the answer.
Yes, we realized that we need to have a more diverse cast.
I would also add that "Asian scientist" might seem a bit stereotypical now, but it certainly wasn't 30 years ago.
Jurgens has a point there. While ethnic Asians make up almost 15% of all modern science, technology, engineering, and technology jobs in America today (second in percentage only to — you guessed it — whites), that number was closer to 5% in 1980 according to census.gov.
We haven't seen Jack since Booster Gold #22 (1987). I assume that's because he's been hard at work in his lab creating new wonders. Thanks for all your hard work, Dr. Soo.
Friday, January 29, 2021
It's been three weeks since Generations: Shattered was released, so you should have your copy by now, yes? Good. Because we're going to talk about it today. Specifically, we're going to talk about this panel:
art by John Romita, Jr., Danny Miki, Hi-Fi
If you've been reading DC Comics for a long of time, you may recognize most of those people, but Booster boosters in particular should probably have a pretty good idea who the Linear Men are. This is an unusual line-up of that team. It's no coincidence that many of them directly pair up with a Multiversal heroic counterpart, a contrivance that is explained in the story as the nearly omnipotent Dominus bends reality to his will.
But even accepting that, one of those Linear Men stands out. Can you spot which one?
Hint: It's this guy.
Whoever that guy is, I doubt anyone calls him "Rayak the Ravager."
Quick history lesson: The Linear Men concept was created in Adventures of Superman #476 (by Dan Jurgens) in 1991 with the introduction of The (singular) Linear Man. That Linear Man died, sacrificing himself in the 30th-century to "correct" the history he'd unintentionally broken while trying to bring justice to Booster Gold. (You'll find more information on the interactions between the Linear Man and Booster Gold here.)
art by Dan Jurgens, Art Thiebert, Glenn Whitmore, Todd Klein
Shortly thereafter, in Superman #59 (by Dan Jurgens), we learn that the Linear Man was a rogue member of the mysterious Linear Men of Vanishing Point who are "dedicated to guarding the linear sanctity of the time stream." By the time of Superman #73 (by Dan Jurgens), it is well established that there are three remaining Linear Men: Matthew Ryder, Liri Lee, and Hunter. (The impetuous Waverider is often an ally of the group but isn't really a member.)
In our group shot at the top of the post, both Liri Lee and Matthew Ryder are clearly identified by name in our Generations: Shattered confrontation. Naturally, the third Linear Man should be Hunter, especially since he appears earlier in the issue beside both Liri and Ryder.
art by Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Hi-Fi
So why in the big team shot is Hunter misidentified as "Rayak the Ravager"?
If I had to take a guess, I'd say that whoever wrote the label was trying to recall the name "Ryak the Rogue" from memory. Ryak is the newest Linear Man — the first not created by Dan Jurgens. Ryak makes his first appearance in The All-New Atom #7 (by Gail Simone) in 2007, and he looks nothing like Hunter. For one thing, he's green.
art by Mike Norton, Andy Owens, Alex Bleyaert, Pat Brosseau
As his moniker might suggest, Ryak was a solo actor in Atom, but he made a cameo appearance beside the other Linear Men on Vanishing Point in Dark Nights: Death Metal: Rise of the New God in 2020. Look closely at that panel, and alongside Ryak you'll spot Ryder, Liri, Rip Hunter, and Waverider, but Hunter is missing, replaced by none other than the original Linear Man himself!
art by Jesus Merino, Vincente Cifuentes, Ulises Arreola
As you can see, keeping the Linear Men straight takes as much work as the convoluted continuity they are sworn to protect. The DC Multiverse is a big place. Every once in a while, we should probably expect the writers, artists, or editors to confused a name and a face.
On the other hand, the events of both Dark Knights: Death Metal and Generations: Shattered involve realities and timelines altered by gods themselves. In which case, if Dominus wants to call Hunter "Rayak," who are we, mere mortal readers of comic books, to correct him?
1 As for the original Linear Man's real identity: it is commonly assumed to be Travis O'Connell. That name comes from the "Linear Men" entry in the Who's Who in the DC Universe Update 1993 #2 (by Roger Stern) which identifies four Linear Men by name and states that "[Travis] O'Connell eventually sacrificed his own life in the late 30th Century." Unless there were multiple Linear Mans chasing Booster Gold in the 30th century, I think we've solved that mystery. (DK apparently agrees; they identify O'Connell by name in their entry for the Linear Man in their officially-licensed The DC Comics Encyclopedia.)
2 Hunter is, as you might have guessed, Rip Hunter. But he's not the one we know. According to the story "Falling in Line" in Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #1 (by Dan Jurgens), Hunter is the evolution of the young, mischievous Rip Hunter from an alternate history that appears to closely mirror the original Rip Hunter, Time Master, whose pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth-1 adventures were chronicled in a book of the same title.
3 Technically, Waverider, like Rip Hunter, is two Linear Men. See, Waverider and Matthew Ryder are the same person, separated into two timelines by the accidental death of his/their parents. In violation of the Linear Men's prime directive, Waverider himself changed the history that forced the divergence that allowed his alternate self to grow into his role as the Linear Men's Ryder. (For details, see Superman #61 by Dan Jurgens.) And while we're on the subject, I might as well mention that Matthew Ryder and Waverider first appeared in Armaggeddon 2001 #1 by Archie Goodwin... and Dan Jurgens.
4 Liri Lee is the only female member of the Linear Men. I probably don't need to tell you, but she was created by Dan Jurgens for Superman #59. She takes the name Linear Woman in Time Masters: Vanishing Point #6 (by... oh, you know). That may take place in a different reality or at a different point in Liri Lee's future chronology than the events of Generations: Shattered. The biggest problem with hanging out at Vanishing Point is that time and space don't have meaning anymore.
5 This isn't the first time O'Connell has been seen since his "death" in Adventures of Superman #478 (by Dan Jurgens), and there are many well-intentioned websites that appear to confuse O'Connell and Hunter, which is understandable. (Heck, I did it myself when I first listed my annotations for the issue, and I obviously know better.) Both O'Connell and Hunter share a 1990s affinity for shoulder pads, pointless belts, and cybernetic parts. And, of course, they are both Dan Jurgens creations. Rule of thumb: if he has black hair and a holster, it's O'Connell; white hair, Hunter.
Comments (2) | Add a Comment | Tags: characters dan jurgens fernando passin gail simone generations hunter jesus merino john romita jr linear man linear men liri lee mike norman rayak the ravager rip hunter ryak the scout waverider
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
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, Doctor Shocker.
Early in the super-heroing career of Booster Gold, while the self-satisfied young hero was posing with beautiful actresses in perfume advertisements, the Director of the 1000 was plotting his downfall. The 1000 had many employees, from the brutish Blackguard to the assassin Chiller. However, none was as important to the Director's plot against Booster Gold as the man they called Doctor Shocker.
We first meet the bad doctor in Booster Gold #9 (1986), where he was using his high-tech Psi-Trap to "drain the knowledge" of Benjamin "Benny" Lindgren and Martin "Marty" Kramer, the comic book artists working on the Booster Gold comic book. In the next issue (Booster Gold #10), Shocker is remotely monitoring Booster Gold's energy signature. By Booster Gold #11, he's graduated to hacking Skeets, an advanced 25th-century artificial intelligence.
Doctor Shocker escaped the 1000's underground lair before Booster Gold destroyed it (Booster Gold #12), and hasn't been seen since. Who was this mysterious villain that dressed like a surgeon but acted like a computer programmer? Why did he dedicate himself to making life difficult for Booster Gold? And what school gave him his doctorate in mad science?
We can, in fact, answer most of these questions. Obviously, a silly name like "Doctor Shocker" is an alias for a more familiar face. To determine just who he really is, let's look at some clues he left behind.
1. It's ridiculous to think that a pair of comic book artists would have any unusual, inside information about the heroes they wrote for. Therefore, we can assume that any knowledge gained by the so-called Psi-Trap was worthless. This implies that Doctor Shocker had the information he needed the whole time.
2. The 1000's plan required manipulating Skeets, but how could any 20th-century computer scientist expect to be able to reprogram 25th-century technology in a matter of minutes? Only if that computer scientist had experience with future tech.
3. Booster's final battle with the Director of the 1000 would result in his need to return to the future? As a direct result of Doctor Shocker's actions, Booster Gold would go on to meet Rip Hunter and reunite with his sister, Michelle, both integral members of the eventual Time Masters team. Note also that a supposedly reprogrammed Skeets ended up playing a key role in the Director's eventual downfall. Did Skeets' reprogrammer make a mistake, or was this betrayal his intention all along?
There is only one white-haired old man who has the knowledge of Booster Gold's life, a working familiarity with technology across the centuries, and a demonstrated history of working behind the scenes to ensure that Booster Gold becomes the hero he was always destined to be: Booster Gold himself!
It's no accident that Doctor Shocker managed to avoid meeting Booster Gold face-to-face. That prevented any potential time paradoxes. He'll use that tactic again when he'll need to guide his younger self to the right path during the fall of Coast City in Booster Gold volume 2 #30 (2010).
Past? Present? Future? There's no difference to a real Time Master.
Interested in meeting other "People in his Neighborhood"? Get to know Trixie Collins, Daniel Carter, Jack Soo, Rani, Dirk Davis, Skeets, Mackenzie Garrison, Rip Hunter, Michelle Carter, Nurse Devlin, and Monica Lake.
Friday, February 14, 2020
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, Monica Lake.
It's a common practice for anyone seeking to become a celebrity to attach themselves to other celebrities. When Booster Gold was new on the scene, he was no different.
In order to maximize his client's marketing potential, Booster's manager, Dirk Davis, scheduled a very public dinner date for our hero at The Imperial, "one of the finest restaurants in Metropolis," in Booster Gold #3 (1986). The lucky (or opportunistic, depending on your point of view) starlet is Monica Lake, star of The Love Cruise.
Due in equal parts to Booster's vanity and Monica's disinterest, the date did not go well.
Despite the inauspicious start to their relationship, both Booster and Monica recognized the practical public relations value of continuing their association. By the next issue, Booster Gold #4, Monica was already in touch with Davis about staging another encounter. In Booster Gold #9, she revealed explicitly what she hopped to gain by the relationship.
For a time, the plan seemed to work. The media couldn't get enough of the couple. Rumors of an impending marriage between the couple started immediately ("his first, her fifth"!), and continued for months.
Gradually, this made-for-tabloids romance began to strain Booster's personal relationships, most notably with his secretary, Trixie Collins, who felt that Booster was demeaning himself (as seen in Booster Gold #10). Booster eventually agreed. After a near death experience and a trip to the future, he re-evaluated his life and decided that there was no room in it for Monica Lake, resulting in a blow-up between the two in the pages of Booster Gold #16.
It was not the last Booster would see of Lake, however. She may not have gotten what she wanted from their year-long partnership, but Booster sure did. He had successfully elevated himself into the celebrity social echelon, and the former couple would cross paths again at celebrity parties, such as the art gallery opening of painter Paul Morris' latest show (Booster Gold #19).
Neither Booster nor Monica come off looking very good in hindsight, but that's sadly true of all too many relationships. In all fairness, they were both immature. Booster was barely 20 years old at the time, and Lake couldn't have been too much older despite having already been married four times. Keep that in mind this Valentine's Day: if you want to maintain the magic in your partnership, don't be a childish jerk.
To answer the question of whether creator Dan Jurgens based Monica Lake on any real celebrities, click here to read my post from May 8, 2015.
Interested in meeting other "People in his Neighborhood"? Get to know Trixie Collins, Daniel Carter, Jack Soo, Rani, Dirk Davis, Skeets, Mackenzie Garrison, Rip Hunter, Michelle Carter, and Nurse Devlin.
Monday, December 23, 2019
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, Nurse Devlin.
Not all supporting characters are created equally. Some are far more important than others, but even the smallest has a role to play in the adventures of a superhero. Take, for example, Nurse Devlin of Metropolis General Hospital, first met in Booster Gold #13 (1987).
At the end of his previous adventure, Booster had been left battered and broken by the 1000. Because he lacked immunity to 20th-century diseases, he was nearly at death's door. Nurse Deslin helped repair our hero's body. She was also instrumental in improving his soul.
She took advantage of Booster's weakness to read him the riot act about how his selfish behavior disguised as altruism wasn't heroic.
Booster had heard the same countless times before — from no less a moral authority than Superman among others (see Booster Gold #6). This time, he listened. Near-death experiences will do that to you.
The change wasn't immediate. Booster first had to travel to the future and confront his own death squad (in events perhaps unintentionally echoing Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol) before he accepted the need to begin modifying his behavior. Growth is never easy, even for super heroes.
After returning to the present in Booster Gold #15, Booster turned over a new leaf, beginning with an anonymous donation to the Metropolis Food Shelter. (It's no accident that Booster's goodwill tour began with a donation to Nurse Devlin's charity. This suggests that wounded pride motivated him as much as a true desire to be a better person, but hey, every hero has got to start somewhere.)
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