SHOWCASE PRESENTS: That Time DC Ruined Booster Gold

 

Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect  the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.

 

If I had to rank my favorite DC characters, in order, it would go: Superman, Batman, Booster Gold. The New 52 gave me Grant Morrison’s version of Superman who, frankly, is the version I’ve wanted for years. It also gave me Scott Snyder’s Batman, who’s the same classic character, just more accessible to a casual reader than Morrison’s version. But the Booster Gold I got with this relaunch? That guy kind of sucks.

To explain why, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of Booster Gold, prior to the New 52.

Booster Gold debuted in his own solo series in 1986, following the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He was one of the first big new characters to come out of the Post-Crisis era. His origin story was far from the standard DC fare. See Booster did what he did out of greed.

In the 25th century, Michael Jon Carter was a football player for Gotham University. And he was good. But, one day, Michael’s estranged father re-entered his life and told him to start throwing games for cash. The allure of those extra riches was too great and Michael agreed. Then he got caught. He was thrown out of the league and thoroughly disgraced (a theme that would become common in his life).

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Let’s not pretend this wasn’t the best episode of Justice League Unlimited

He took a job as a night watchman at a museum. This museum just so happened to be filled with artifacts from the dawn of superheroes in the 20th century. Michael saw a chance for a new life. With the help of a plucky security droid named Skeets, he grabbed some artifacts (a forcefield generator, a Legion flight ring, and some blaster gauntlets) and pulled a Doctor Who and stole a time machine. He went to the 20th century to make a name for himself as a hero.

Using his knowledge of the “past” (the DCU’s “present”), he saved the President. Originally planning to call himself Goldstar, but so used to his college nickname, Booster, he flubbed his introduction and got presented to an eager public as Booster Gold. Naturally, this got him quite a bit of attention. He leveraged this into endorsements from various advertisers, going so far as to appear in commercials and even sew those company’s logos onto his costume.

Booster committed most of his heroic acts in order to get the most press coverage. He was in love with being a celebrity and, thus, didn’t have the best reputation amongst his fellow heroes. Still, when the time came to form a new Justice League, Booster was quickly put on the roster. This team, organized by the oh-so-smarmy Max Lord, became known as the Justice League International. And it was where the greatest comic book bro-mance of all time began: Blue & Gold aka Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) and Booster Gold.

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The BEST.

This was, in my opinion, the greatest age of the Justice League. It was a sitcom with superheroes. Booster and Beetle would spend their time making stupid jokes and pulling pranks while Green Lantern hothead Guy Garder would shoot off his mouth, the Martian Manhunter would slowly get addicted to Choccos (the comic equivalent of Oreos), Batman would take people (aka Guy) down with “one punch,” Captain Atom would look very stoic, Fire and Ice would contemplate one day opening a restaurant franchise, and Max Lord would… bide his time.

Eventually, this incarnation of the League gave way to another. To which Booster was not invited. Booster was down on his luck and got by through a series of increasingly-desperate ad campaigns that the public slowly began losing patience for. And then there was Infinite Crisis. Max Lord turned out to be evil and he ended up murdering Ted Kord before trying to take over the world with his OMAC army. Booster proved instrumental in taking down the OMACs but he still didn’t get any respect.

DC’s yearlong series, 52, chronicled, among other things, Booster’s attempts to regain his relevancy in the absence of the Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were absent for various reasons that year). Skeets began to malfunction and soon his historical records became so corrupted that Booster Gold ended up getting killed. But the story doesn’t end there.

Skeets had become the shell of the villainous Mister Mind (an evil pan-dimensional worm). Once Mind “hatched” and started his assault on the multiverse, Booster Gold revealed that his death had been a ruse and he saved the multiverse with the help of fellow time traveler, Rip Hunter. He would continue saving the multiverse time and again, unbeknownst to anyone. With Ted’s death, Booster had learned the true meaning of heroism. He became the Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of. His exploits went largely unnoticed as Booster continued to act like the greedy buffoon the rest of the heroes had always seen him as. Only Batman managed to piece together the truth.

With Flashpoint, it was largely implied that Booster would be the only character to come out of the relaunch relatively unscathed. But, as it happened, that wasn’t going to be the case.

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Pictured: scathed.

The New 52 Booster Gold wasn’t so much a greedy man as one skilled at PR. He didn’t fumble his words. He actively tried to be a better hero and an excellent team leader for the newly-formed JLI. He was… standard. Boring. Average. Cookie-cutter. Dull. Not Booster Gold.

The end of the New 52 JLI series had Booster literally fade into nonexistence. It all really begged the question (a question I’ve asked many times with the New 52) of why bring him back at all?

Booster Gold is meant to be flawed. Those flaws are what make us root for him. He was a greedy, opportunistic, celebutante in an age of honorable do-gooders. And he became so much more than that over time. His secret identity became simply who he used to be. Who everyone else thought he still was. He had a solo series about time travel and dimension-hopping battles and saying goodbye to those who passed away in the only way a time-traveling, dimension-hopping hero could say goodbye. It was about atoning for mistakes and earning respect for strength of character instead of clever photo-ops.

Change is necessary. Characters need to evolve with the times. But, if anyone was ever underserved by the New 52, it was damn sure Booster Gold.

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Of course, we all have high hopes for Booster Gold: Cowboy At Law.
  • Boosterrific

    For the record, Booster wasn’t “one of the first first… new characters to come out of the Post-Crisis era,” he was the FIRST Post-Crisis DC character. Maybe he’ll be back to his old flawed self once he gets himself unlost in time.