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Friday, July 10, 2020

Extreme-ly Boosterrific

Today I present to you my single favorite Booster Gold panel.

As much as I love the work of Kevin Maguire and Adam Hughes, it's not from Booster's Justice League tryout or KooeyKooeyKooey any other Justice League International comic. It's not by Aaron Lopresti, who drew many truly inspirational moments for our hero in 52 and Generation Lost, including his triumphs over Mister Mind and Max Lord. Nor is it a page from the pen of Booster's prolific creator, Dan Jurgens, though he has crafted so many other memorable Boosterrific moments in the past three-and-a-half decades.

It doesn't even have Blue Beetle or Skeets in it.

No, my favorite Booster Gold panel comes from a most unlikely source, a comic that few people have read since it was released in the middle of the Chromium Age of the 1990s. It was a time after Doomsday had killed destroyed Booster's original technology and our hero had lost much of his previous power and personal identity. (Clothes, after all, do make the man.)

Here's the panel, from the eleventh page of Extreme Justice #12, released November 14, 1995:

© DC Comics

Oh, how that gets me every time.

The artists for this piece are Tom Morgan, Ken Branch, and Lee Loughridge, with a lettering assist by Kevin Cunningham. I've always had a soft spot for profiles, and I have notebooks filled with doodles of similar poses. I can't tell you how many gnashed teeth I've drawn in my life. I think it's exceptional how tight the close-up is while still including everything you need to know about the person whose personal space we have violated. Considering that the previous panel is a full body shot, Morgan could have been lazy, but he doesn't skimp the details. The character's iconic blue star seen relegated to the shoulder pad — a literal chip on his shoulder — may be the best part!

But the real reason I love that panel is the writing by the late Robert Washington III and its literary allusion to Tik-Tok, the Clockwork Man of Oz, a mechanical servant/warrior incapable of independent thought or action without the mechanical assistance of its friends. The comparison to Tik-Tok reveals Booster at his most human: a wounded warrior who struggles under the weight of his own heroic expectations and biological frailties. Doubt personified.

Probably because I first encountered it at just the right time in my life, but it has become embedded in my consciousness. I think of this panel often, probably several times a year when I'm feeling worn down by my responsibilities or illness or just life in general. (I probably don't need to tell you, 2020 has been a real test so far.) Somehow, knowing that Booster Gold has experienced the same feelings brightens my outlook. If he found a way to keep going, there's still hope for the rest of us. (I have to believe that won't require entrusting my body to an alternate-universe would-be world conqueror, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.)

So anyway, maybe it's not the best drawn or the most illuminating or aggrandizing Booster Gold panel, but it's my personal favorite.

What's yours?

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: clockwork man extreme justice ken branch kevin cunningham lee loughridge plague robert washington iii tom morgan

Friday, March 15, 2013

This Day in History: Skeets is Here?!

On this day in 1995, Booster Gold and Skeets were reunited in Extreme Justice #4.

I'd love to tell you it was a touching reunion between two old friends, but I'd be lying. Skeets appears in exactly three panels. The Blue Beetle's new Bug gets more attention. Heck, Mister Miracle's sidekick Oberon gets a bigger part, and Mister Miracle isn't even in this issue.

As you know, Extreme Justice has something of a reputation as the bad seed among the Justice League International-era titles. Honestly, this book won't do much to disabuse anyone of that opinion.

The story is little more than standard, soap-opera style melodramatics. Extreme Justice plots are typically like Hollywood action movies: big, loud, and dumb. Ironically, writer Dan Vado's strength isn't the action but the character development through interpersonal relationships. You might think that would make this reunion issue a success. You'd be wrong.

This is not Vado's best work. The action crowds out significant character development. Captain Atom is callous, Maxima is insane, and Firestorm, a former member of the "Satellite Era" Justice League, is a spoiled child. Amazing Man is shoehorned into a role best filled by Captain Atom, as though Vado was struggling to find a niche for his own character to fill.

If Vado's character development is typically the strongest part of Extreme Justice, the art is always its biggest weakness. This issue is no different, as guest artist Mozart Cuoto and inker Ken Branch combine to create panels with wildly inconsistent characters and hard-to-follow action. Unsatisfying is probably not a strong enough word.

So, as I said. Extreme Justice #4 features the reunion between Skeets and Booster Gold after several months apart. While we are still hoping to see Booster Gold and Skeets reunited in the New 52, we have to hope that it will be better than this.

Comments (2) | Add a Comment | Tags: dan vado extreme justice history ken branch mozart cuoto reviews skeets

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