So Justice League International Annual #1 recently came out and I wanted to say a few things about it, the less than necessary series that preceded it, and the titles star character, Booster Gold. Reading this series and learning the few things we have learned about the New 52 version of Booster leads me to ask: Should we still care about Booster Gold? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE fan of the character, but what made me a fan of him seems to have been erased from New 52 continuity. I’ll go into more detail into his past later but if the events that led Booster to his recent comic book success no longer exists in current continuity does the character still deserve our readership? Let’s start with the JLI Annual and go from there.
The annual is a good conclusion to a mediocre series. It left me feeling that the main series was mostly filler to the extent that if you picked up this annual with absolutely no knowledge that there were 12 issues leading up to it you probably wouldn’t even realize it. While that speaks poorly for the main series it means at the very least that readers are free to focus on the Annual that finds Geoff Johns taking control of Booster Gold’s future once again. Seeing as how Johns is the guy who made me love the character in the first place I’m happy to see him return to the driver’s seat (even if Dan Didio is riding shotgun). Without getting into too many spoilers Johns has managed to make things quite interesting for Booster Gold yet again and has tied him in to some big things coming down the pike from DC in the coming months, most notably the newly announced Justice League of America.
Throughout the JLI series we saw a fairly serious Booster Gold attempt to show the U.N. why his Justice League was necessary. The problem I had with the series (besides Dan Jurgens penmanship) was not knowing WHY Booster wanted to prove himself so badly. Without the death of his best friend, Ted Kord, I was left wondering what motivated this version of Booster to be anything other than what he was before the loss of his friend in the Pre-52 DCU. In case you are new to Booster Gold or the DCU in general I’d like to go into a quick history of character and why that history’s absence in the New 52 is a blow to the character.
When Booster was originally created by Dan Jurgens he was meant to act as a self-serving “super-hero” who wanted to perform acts of heroism simply to become rich and famous. Originally from the 25th century, Michael John Carter was a disgraced athlete working as a security guard for a museum. Deciding he had had enough of loserdom he steals various super hero relics including a time machine (!) and uses that to go back to the past…or the present…whatever. He then embarks on his journey in search of fame and fortune. For many years Booster did just that. Don’t get me wrong, he fought the good fight and made a few friends along the way, most notably, Ted Kord, but, at the end of the day he was still characterized and known for being a selfish goofball. When Ted Kord was brutally murdered in the pages of Countdown to Infinite Crisis Booster began a journey that made him a true hero eventually leading to him saving the ENTIRE FREAKING MULTIVERSE.
So…yeah, that’s kind of a big deal. Anyway, the character proved so popular in the pages of 52 (where the above took place) that he was given his own series again nearly 20 years after his original solo run. That’s also kind of a big deal and it really says a lot to me about what gave this character a renewed popularity. Geoff Johns made this character interesting again writing a series that embraced a big part of what Booster Gold is, namely, a time traveler. In one of my favorite issues we saw Booster attempt to stop the Joker from shooting Barbara Gordon (an event that took place in the famous Killing Joke). Unfortunately for Booster this event was somehow “locked” in the time stream (I don’t know, ask Doctor Who) and could never be altered. Booster tried again and again all the while having the ever living snot beat out of him. But no matter how much pain he was in he refused to give up until he saw that he truly could do nothing to stop these events from occurring.
The tagline of this series was that Booster Gold was “the greatest hero you never heard of.” This is due to the fact that Booster went around saving all of time and space (eat your heart out Doctor Who…oh, did I already make a Doctor Who reference? Whatever, Doctor Who is awesome!). Anyway, Booster could never share his heroic deeds with the world as some of the villains he faced also had access to time travel tech. If these villains ever caught wind that Booster was the one attempting to put right what once went wrong they would simply go back to Booster’s crib in the Gotham City of beyond and kill him as he slept. This meant that all of the hero’s of the DCU still thought of Booster Gold as the same old selfish goofball and never gave him the respect he deserved.
The only exception to this was Batman. He discovered the truth of Booster’s new found heroism and earned the respect of Worlds Greatest Detective. Since the New 52 relaunch of DC Comics we have seen Booster Gold lead a team of heroes as part of the Justice League International. We’ve also seen a Batman who seems to think that Booster is capable of leading the team and clearly trusts and supports the character seemingly as he did in the Pre-52. In the following panel we see Batman trying to convince Guy Gardener that he should give Booster a chance.
We then see Batman saying that he and seemingly the entire Justice League (the other one that is) is in full support of Booster too.
Finally, after Booster leads the team to a retreat (which many view as a failure) after their first mission, Batman is ready to console Booster and let him know the deck was not stacked in his favor and that he should simply learn from his mistakes.
This is all well and good as I’m thrilled to see Batman showing Booster respect as a fellow hero. Time and time again we see Batman try to prove to Booster what a great hero and leader he is. Other heroes even mention what an honor it is to work alongside Booster Gold. Near the end of the series we get the following scene where Batman reveals he has a surprise for Booster.
Again, that is a TON of trust placed upon Booster by the guy that is absolutely the hardest to get that from. However, the problem I have with all of this support is that we have yet to see any hard evidence that Ted Kord ever existed in this new timeline and if that’s the case then Booster would never have befriended and ultimately suffered the loss of Ted. This destroys an entire chain of events that lead to Booster becoming the true hero that made me (and many others) a fan of the character and, from the heroes perspective, made Booster someone worth fighting beside and supporting the way see in Justice League International . So if those events no longer took place why is Batman so convinced that Booster is worth it? In the Pre-52 universe it took Booster saving ALL OF REALITY before he would even give Booster the the time of day. Granted, there may be a reason that Batman is supportive of Booster, however we have yet to see it. There is a 5 year gap in the New 52 so it’s possible that Booster has done many things in his career to warrant Batman’s trust.
Personally, not knowing what those things may have been hurt my appreciation for this version of Booster (and by extension this version of the JLI). Booster and Ted’s friendship is one of the funniest, entertaining, and downright heartwarming things to ever come out of the DCU and it is a shame that we have seemingly lost that in the New 52. I said before that there isn’t any hard evidence suggesting that Ted Kord exists in this new timeline but it’s possible that at least a version of Ted (or at least his company) still exists in this universe. In the pages of OMAC we’ve seen references to a KORD Industries as I’ve pointed out in a previous post.
Is this just a nod to previous story line? Or are they hinting that Ted Kord does in fact exist in the New 52 at least in some form. I’m hoping that is the case and that it’ll be revealed that Booster and Ted were friends in this timeline as well. Seeing as how Ted’s friendship is such a big part of who Booster Gold is (regardless of his selfish or selfless persona) I think it would be best for him if it remained intact. I think there is a certain strength and resolve that Booster loses if that friendship is erased from his memory. Ted was his absolute best friend and often times his only source of support. Ted ultimately taught Booster what it really means to be a hero. Not Superman or Batman, but Ted “Blue Beetle” Kord. Without that in Boosters life I find his heroism simply unbelievable and unless they give Booster another reason to drive himself to be a true hero then I’m afraid that many fans of the character will stop following him.
Take a look at the following panels from Justice League International #7. An explosion has recently occurred and the JLI are at the epicenter.
Booster still seems to care about his celebrity saying that Skeets is in charge of his schedule and social media. He goes so far as to say that he has over 100,000 “Facespace” followers but then says that the current mission is what’s important. In the Pre-52 Booster was forced to keep up his selfish celebrity persona to keep his true mission a secret and protect him from time traveling villains I mentioned before. In the New 52 he still cares about his celebrity but also wants to do be a real hero and do whats right. Personally, I find it all a bit confusing and again, there has been no real reason presented to us as to why Booster cares at all about being a true hero in the New 52 version of reality although the Annual does give us the following scene:
Sorry to interrupt you there Boost, but I’ve got a few more things to say. The Annual makes no reference to Ted Kord but it does imply that Booster wants to be a hero in the present because he was a screw up in the future. Is this really the only thing that is driving this version of Booster to be a true hero in the New 52? I really hope not. I also hope that there is more to Booster Gold’s motivations than we’ve seen so far. However, if this really is all that drives Booster then maybe this opens up the opportunity to bring Ted back. Since his sacrifice is seemingly no longer necessary for Booster to be a true and selfless hero then why not bring him back? Wouldn’t you like to see this again? I know I would!
So, with all of that said, the question still remains. Should we still care about Booster Gold? Ultimately, I’ll leave that up to you but for me the answer is…Hell yeah! At the end of the day he is a character of enormous potential. It’s been shown time and again that he can be written well and has been involved in some fantastic stories literally throughout the history of the DCU. If the entire series had been written by Geoff Johns or even Judd Winnick (as it should have been) then we would have seen a different and most definitely better book. While the bulk of the JLI series failed to take advantage of Booster Gold (or any of it’s other characters for that matter), the JLI Annual led to some interesting mysteries for Booster and has hopefully put him on a path to greater glory in pages of the New 52. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled in the upcoming pages of Justice League of America in hopes of much brighter future for Booster Gold.