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Friday, March 15, 2024

My Favorite Pages: Justice League Intl 25

My Favorite Pages

In addition to being the final issue of Justice League International volume 1 (next issue the team will be downsized to just Justice League America), Justice League International #25 is also the first book-length team-up between Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Historic!

My favorite page comes early, which is probably not a surprise to those of you who know that Ty Templeton is one of my favorite artists. He only drew the intro and outro pages of this issue (over Keith Giffen's layouts), with the rest handled by Mike McKone (also over Giffen).

But it's not just the art I love; almost every panel on page 3 has its own punchline!

© DC Comics

Despite the early (and often) jokes, the main plot of this team-up issue is a vampire hunt that turns into an overt criticism of Western consumer culture which, in Twilight Zone style, questions who the real monsters are on plane Earth. As Booster and Beetle (and the reader) will eventually realize, it just might be our heroes.

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Friday, January 19, 2024

My Favorite Pages: Justice League Intl 21

My Favorite Pages

Booster Gold appears in only two panels in Justice League International #20, so we'll skip ahead to Justice League International #21 where Booster Gold has about the greatest three consecutive panel sequence you'll ever read in a DC comic.

© DC Comics

And can we just take an extra moment to admire Ty Templeton's pencils on what is very obviously a layout (with an iconic Darkseid closeup) by the late, great Keith Giffen? Amazing work, guys.

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Friday, June 23, 2023

My Favorite Pages: Booster Gold 24

My Favorite Pages

Just about any way you slice it, the back half of Booster Gold Volume 1 is a downer for our hero. And them comes Millennium to take what's left of our hero's fortune, family, and reputation. What a bummer.

The big reveal of Booster Gold #24 is that the Manhunter who betrays Booster is the same "friend" who betrayed Booster before. If this seems unsatisfying to the reader, rest assured that it was also unsatisfying to the issue's creator (as I detailed in my 2015 post "The True Story of Booster Gold: 30 Years of Character Development").

But just because the story is ultimately unsatisfying doesn't mean that the comic doesn't have its moments. Lots of them, in fact. Big, dumb deathtraps are always fun, and Ty Templeton's inks make everything better.

© DC Comics

Crushing walls are a pretty old-school trap. I'm glad Booster got a chance to play the classics on his way out.

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Friday, March 24, 2023

My Favorite Pages: Booster Gold 21

My Favorite Pages

A little something different today for Booster Gold #21. Rather than show you the page that's my favorite — probably page 6, but I like Ty Templeton inking Dan Jurgens so much, it could be just about any of them — I'm going to showcase the page I think is the most interesting. Page 21:

© DC Comics

As I said, I love the art, the beautifully naturalistic posing, musculature, textures, and expressions. But what makes this page so interesting to me is the layout.

Since Booster Gold is the first to speak in panel one, he's on the left. As a rule in English-language comics, speech balloons should be read in order from left to right (following the visual scanning tendency imparted by our left-to-right language construction). Therefore, it generally follows that in American comics, the first speaker should appear on the left side of the panel. In this case, that's Booster, who Jurgens the artist cleverly puts in the long cast shadow of the evil alien mastermind. So far, so great.

The alternating tight close-ups in panels two and three follow in the familiar tradition of the cinematic Western showdown between gunslingers, with Booster playing the white hat cowboy against the gloating villain. The allusion to a gunfight is especially apt given Booster's charged wrist blaster and accompanying death threat. That's a bluff, of course, but the alien hopefully doesn't know that.

And then there's panel four. By the same rules as panel one, the first speaker, Booster, should be on the left. But there's extra reason to put Booster on the left here because Booster was established on the left in panel one. Sequential art and cinema follow many of the same rules, one of those being the convention that speakers shouldn't abruptly swap positions during a scene. Cinema calls this the 180-degree rule. While this rule can and sometimes should be broken, doing so always calls attention to the violation, which is unwarranted here. So it might seem that panel four is following all the rules. But it's also wrong.

From the position of the reader, when the alien Rangor tells Booster Gold to "look," he points behind Booster to the left. In sequential art, where each panel represents a specific moment in a sequence, Rangor is essentially pointing the reader backwards in time. The figures in the panel should be posed such that Rangor points to the right, visually guiding the reader's eye to the issue's big reveal on the story's last page.

In the original publication, this is especially egregious as page 21 was printed on the left side of a two page spread!

When the issue was reprinted in Booster Gold: Future Lost, DC had the good sense to revise this so that page 21 was printed on the righthand side. The reader has to turn the page to uncover the surprise ending. It's a big improvement.

While we're here, I'd be amiss not to call attention to the contribution to these panels by colorist Gene D'Angelo. The first panel is a primarily an unsettling orange. Then each panel becomes progressively cooler in color temperature — pink, light blue, dark blue — as Booster's hot-blooded threat is chilled by the villain's machinations. It's a very nice touch (that looks even better with Jurgens' pyramidal layout).

Did I say this wasn't my favorite page? I might have to rethink that.

Booster Gold comics: even when they're bad, they're good!

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Monday, March 22, 2021

The One With Beetle's Blind Date

What happens when Booster Gold, Fire, and Flash go for dinner together? I'm glad you asked....

© DC Comics

© DC Comics

© DC Comics

© DC Comics

© DC Comics

Yes, Wally, that is the Tattooed Man.

"When Titans Date" was created by Mark Waid, Ty Templeton, and Karl Kesel for the fourth story in the Justice League Quarterly #10 anthology.

I loved it when it was first published in 1993, and I love it even more now. It works on so many levels. On its surface, it's a situation comedy. Dig a little deeper, and it's an exploration of its characters' insecurities. Will Ted ever find love? Is Booster losing his best friend to a *gulp* girl? Can Wally relax long enough to enjoy a meal? How does Bea deal with constant sexual harassment from jerks like that bald guy in the red jacket?

Track down a copy of Justice League Quarterly #10 — the one with an angry Booster Gold on its cover! — and find out how this story ends.

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