Booster Gold #39
How does the “Hero-Of-Time” cope with things he’s powerless to change? This issue sheds a big light on that very subject!
If there was ever a Superhero that was the poster-boy for “Things are not always as they seem”, Booster Gold would most definitely be. Michael Jon Carter’s entrance into the Superhero Game was marred by his inability to control his very Avarice, which caused him to be a disgraced Sports Hero of the 25th Century, sending himself into the 20th/21st Century as a way to become a winner again. Since his debut Booster Gold has not only had enough epic rises to the top (to match his tragic falls to the bottom) that could be the subject of many books, but has gone on to craft a reputation (despite his great deeds along the way) as an opportunistic fortune-seeking glory hound that’s shared among fans and heroes. A reputation that began to change in DC’s Magnum Opus of the decade 52, when Booster Gold discovered a calling that was bigger than anything else he’s ever been involved in, and that was becoming a defender of time, setting Booster Gold on both a path that would change him forever, and to confront the tragedy that has scarred his very soul, the death of his best friend.
As most Comic Book Fans know, the best friend in question was Ted Kord (The second Blue Beetle, who was killed by Maxwell Lord in what would become known as The Countdown to Infinite Crisis. Ted’s Death would send shockwaves throughout the DCU, hitting many of its heroes hard, especially Booster Gold, who would spend half of his time visiting timelines in hopes of bringing his friend back. These Adventures have become synonymous with the current book of Booster Gold, and can definitely fool you into thinking that things were like what they used to be in the glory days of “Blue and Gold”, until you realize that it is not the current realty that’s being presented. At the end of the day, Ted Kord is still dead, and the pain is still there. A fact that we see on display in all of its lamentable glory in Booster Gold #39, a book that’s definitely more than the sum of its parts.
In what could be called a change of pace, I’m going start the meat of this review by talking about what’s on the surface with this book. At its core Booster Gold #39 is your standard “dealing with the death of a friend” issue, with all of the clichés that come along with such an issue. Most of the parts dealing with Booster’s feelings towards Ted Kord’s death definitely have their share of melodrama, as it tries its hardest not to venture too far into the after school special territory, but ends up failing just slightly in that regard. The art, while technically a few levels above serviceable doesn’t go out of its way to stand out. It just reminds us what should be expected of every single comic writer. When you put those two parts together, what you have on the surface is an average issue of yet another comic on the superhero stands. However, when you go beyond the surface, that’s when the comic’s beauty begins to open up.
Despite what some would call excessive melodrama, there is plenty to enjoy about this story. The scenes where Booster interacts with his Sister, Michelle (Goldstar), Rip Hunter, Rani and Skeets are definitely fun to see play out, as we get quite a good glimpse at the relationships that he has with each one. Speaking of Rani and Skeets, the contrasting ways they view Michael adds a good layer of nuance. Skeets (who has shown more personality than a Geoff Johns penned Barry Allen) sees Booster Gold for what he truly is, and Rani sees Booster Gold in his ideal state, which helps to bring across the strongest asset of this book, which is the display of Booster’s humanity. Unlike his “iconic” brethren who are often written (and seen) as Deities, Booster Gold reminds us that flawed Superheroes can still be Superheroes. It is through that aspect that Giffen and DeMatteis write something that can constituted as a love letter to an era where DC wrote about humans that happened to be Superheroes, and not the other way around, and because of this, the feelings that Booster has for Ted shine through the melodrama present. The end is especially powerful as Ted’s Tombstone continues to stand the test of time as a monument to what he meant to not just Booster, but the DC Universe at large, a fitting tribute to a character that was sadly neglected by all of us.
As for the art, while I did say that the art doesn’t stand out, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have merits that should be commended (remember, I have very high standards). Firstly the art does a great job (for the most part) conveying the different emotions each of the characters feel. From Goldstar’s cool, to Rani’s childlike wonder and guilt, the book almost all the right notes in helping to tell the story of these people. Booster’s emotions are also well portrayed, even if the first panel where he expresses his grief doesn’t come across the way it should, it’s still commendable due to the effort put into it. If we could get to the point that this art would be considered truly average (not a bad thing, mind you), then the Comic Book Industry would be where it should be.
When you get right down to it, Booster Gold #39 is definitely more than the sum of its parts. It’s absolutely average surface is just a gateway to the beautifully flawed book this is. Just like Booster Gold himself, this book shines through its flaws to do something worth celebrating. Maybe when DC stops being so obsessed with Iconography, Ted Kord can come back to a world that’ll appreciate him more. Till then, the best thing to do will be to remember what he meant to his Universe at large. This book accomplishes just that.
Final Judgment: 7.75