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Stew’s Reviews: Booster Gold

I just bought hockey tickets!

I haven’t been to a game a long time; several years at this point, actually. I went through a stretch in the mid-2000’s where I made it to at least one Pittsburgh Penguins game per year, but it’s been a solid decade since I have gone. Every time I have been to the PPG Arena since it has opened, it’s been to see WWE wrestling. This will be the first Pens game for me in the new arena. Good times.

I wonder who they are playing? Eh, no matter. I don’t follow the NHL nearly well enough to know anything about whoever their opponents are.

TITLE: Booster Gold: 52 Pick-Up

Writer and Artist: Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, and Dan Jurgens

Publisher: DC

Protagonists: Booster Gold

Antagonists: Rex Hunter, Supernova

It’s a great feeling when you see a book that you didn’t even know existed, and yet, it is one you absolutely want. So it was with Booster Gold: 52 Pick-Up. As big of fan of 52 as I am, and I somehow had never heard of this series until the very day this past fall when I walked into my comic shop and saw it on the shelf. I have no excuse; there’s no reason I was unfamiliar with this book; it just somehow evaded my periphery until that day.

This story sees Booster Gold granted membership into the Justice League of America only to refuse to take the spot offered to him when Rip Hunter appears and tells the wannabe hero that he is needed to help fix the timestream. Unfortunately, Booster can only help by allowing his reputation as a screw-up to stay unchanged so that Rip’s foes never finger Booster and go back in time to kill him before he can stop their plans.

Armed with, of all things, a certificate—originally it was his membership into the JLA, but in Booster’s hands, it changes to death certificates that give him glimpses into the villainous plans afoot—Booster, his security droid sidekick Skeets, and Rip enter the time stream to start putting things right… but Gold has his own game, too, as he only agrees to help Rip with the understanding that when they are done, he is allowed to go back far enough to save Ted Kord’s life.

Starting off with the pencils here, and Dan Jurgens is one of my favorite comic book artists that I don’t think about very often. His work has a feel to it that I can only describe as “classic/modern”. If you ask the random passer-by to picture a comic book, it’s likely to be something very similar to Jurgens’ work that they think of. There is a lot more detail in his work than that in golden or early silver age comics, but his characters retain the sensation of being larger-than-life that that era did so well. Everything is so bright and polished, and the heroes have powerful jaws and defined muscles. The point is: I enjoyed his work here as I usually do. He’s a true talent.

This is a typically fun Booster Gold story focusing on the man from the future who wants to be famous and the constant obstacles stopping him from achieving that goal. Michael Carter has always been an enjoyable character, and Johns and Katz do right by him here, giving the reader a Gold who is, at turns, petulant, self-important, somewhat delusional, and yet exceedingly altruistic behind it all. He’s the kind of character that can realize the only way to stop Sinestro is by flattering him, can go back to the old west days and get drunk with Jonah Hex, and can put himself through tortuous hell repeatedly trying to save Barbara Gordon from being paralyzed by the Joker, and it all works because he’s a nuanced character; he’s undergone a lot of change on everything but the superficial level.

There are parts of this story that are a little weaker, admittedly. The reveal of the new, evil Supernova as Booster’s dad fell extremely flat to me because it’s not a particularly poignant trope at this point (and they really heeled up Papa Carter, giving him the typical “Evil Man” eye scar and grizzled appearance). Maybe it pays off more in later volumes, but here it’s more of a shrug than an impact. Also, and I get that this is a common theme in stories that want to deal with time travel but not have to think too hard about it, the idea of “solidified” time that is unchangeable feels extremely forced when you have characters both good and bad changing events back-and-forth, willy-nilly. Whether or not Hal Jordan ever became a Green Lantern decades ago is fluid, but Blue Beetle being murdered is irreversible? What are the rules here? How can anyone keep track?

Pimples aside, this is a fun book with a great protagonist that sets up a really entertaining premise going forward—Booster ignores the solidified time and manages to save Ted Kord from death at the hands of Maxwell Lord.

Talking Point: Booster and Beetle are one of comics’ great sets of adventuring friends. In addition to them, who are some of your favorite comic best buddies?

OVERALL

I love the art, and the story is mostly fun. I look forward to fishing out some more volumes of this run going forward, especially is Beetle is at least temporarily back to go on the run with Gold.

8/10

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