Ameobas had the pick and chose Booster Gold #39.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
For the week of December 8, Ameobas had the pick and picked Booster Gold #39. Thirteen reviews later, the book ended up scoring a 7.0, which tends to be the line of respectability here at the Review Group. To compare with past picks, comics with the comparable scores were First Wave #1 and Hellboy: The Bride of Hell.
Also, the Review Group would like to welcome chap22 and False Prophet to the fold. We look forward to many reviews from them in the future! If you'd like to join the Review Group, simply head to The News Stand and hunt down the weekly Review Group thread. Then just post a review!
Without further ado, here's the reviews for the week!
Review by God-Man
I didn't like this issue a whole lot. The story beats were pretty predictable, and it was a little too melodramatic for my tastes. I did like the last page that showed Ted Kord's tombstone throughout time. He may be dead but his memory and legacy will endure. The art by Chris Batista and co. was strong for most of the issue, but kinda faltered in the end. I think this is gonna be the last issue of Booster Gold I'm gonna read for the foreseeable future.
Review by fieldy snuts
I cant find any other words to describe this issue other than "redundant". I've lost count of the number of times we've seen an issue where Booster remembers Ted's death and is mad about it. How many years has Beetle been dead? How many times have we seen issues like this in that time, especially in this very title?
The only reason I cant totally hate on this though is that it's as far as I know the only time Giffen and DeMatteis, the guys that started the Booster/Ted Kord friendship, did it this time and hit all the right notes. It should have been good, if this was done years ago instead of today but this is an example of a comic that was published in totally the wrong year. Ironic for a time travel series...
I know Booster Gold's a popular book on here, and I love the series too, I've got every issue. But this one totally missed the mark for me.
Review by chap22 (New Member!!)
BOOSTER GOLD 39 -- wherein J.M. DeMatteis reminds me why he's been my single favorite comics writer for going on 30 years
So in a book that's been up to this point all about Booster growing up, accepting a new role, a new outlook on life, herodom, and himself, we finally get to the point where he accepts something else as well, and continues his growth into maturity. Looking back, this book could probably have always been subtitled "Chasing Ted"...that's really been as much what it's been about as anything else. From Booster using that as his quid pro quo request to Rip in exchange for working with him in the first arc, through the entirety of the "Blue & Gold" arc, all the way up to now with Giffen & JMD's run showcasing the classic duo, Booster has been refusing to let his friend go. Whether trying to bring him back or just trying to visit him, Booster may have accepted his death, but he's never really accepted his death. And this issue he finally allows himself to find real closure, coming to terms with his grief and the way things are.
And while this is a type of story we've seen in different books with different heroes a thousand times or more, issues like these are still not easy to portray in 4-color comics about guys in spandex who beat the crap out of each other. They just aren't...most writers aren't adept enough at handling emotions and concepts this complex without running headlong into maudlinity or saccharineness or just plain bad writing. JMD, however, is. From his work in Marvel Team-Up and Kraven's Last Hunt through Moonshadow and beyond, he has always shown an ability to convey these types of emotions and really let the reader feel what the character feels, while not falling into the trap of rolleyes elicitation. And while Giffen is of course co-plotter/co-story guy for this stuff, it's JMD as always who handles the actual words (or lack thereof) that makes this issue sing: he knows when to go funny, when to go corny/cliche, and when to just shut up and let the pictures do the talking, all in service to the story he wants to tell. In particular, Booster's final gaze over the city skyline and his moment of grief release at the cemetery are absolute winners. But throughout, we also get supporting cast humor and charcterization, wrap-up of ongoing plots, and introduction/continuation of subplots, reminding us that this is actually an ongoing book with lots of other stuff going on.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention Batista's art: very clean, very classic superhero stuff, but surprisingly good at conveying the heavy emotional moments in the book as well, selling the gut-punches equally as well as the belly-laughs.
It's not a perfect issue by a long shot, but it is perfectly good at being what it is: enjoyable, well-written, and moving.
Review by Ameobas
As good as Booster Gold's original series by Dan Jurgens was, the character never really clicked until Giffen & DeMatteis brought him into the Justice League. From the very onset they made him the buffoon (albeit a buffoon you couldn't help but love). Over the next few months I watched as a the friendship between Michael & Ted Kord grew into a Martin & Lewis like duo (with both of them Lewis thinking they were Martin). If ever there were two 'best friends' in spandex, it was Booster & Beetle - the Blue and the Gold.
Blue Beetle died over 5 years ago, In all those years Booster has been trying to bring him back. Whether it be actual time travel or just a fervent hope that something good will happen and he'll return nothing was ever lasting.
Chap already spelled out what Booster's been doing since the 1st issue of this current series. I don't think there's been an issue to go by without Ted being mentioned or (thanks to time travel, Nekron, etc) seen. In dealing with Ted's death, we've read Booster's denial, his anger, bargaining and depression time and time again.
This issue Giffen & DeMatteis put him through all that and more. For after 'losing it' with a would be anti-hero, at long last, 'accepts' that his friend is not coming back. DeMatteiis is such a strong writer that he doesn't even need the words to portray this (and thankfully Batista's art does the script justice).
In the end I find that this isn't just an issue about Booster coming to terms because in many ways it's about how we the fans need to come to terms about Ted's death. I know I've been waiting for his return (just like Michael) and I suppose I too need to follow the books lead and accept that that ain't gonna happen.
Booster's now in a place where he can move beyond his buddy.
And Ted? His memory is enough.
Story - 9
Art - 7
Bonus point for the Legion Clubhouse - 1
Overall - 8.5
Review by BlueStreak
Booster Gold has long been one of my favorite heroes. When I was a kid, I used to sneak into my dad's comic book collection and read about Booster and Blue Beetle's misadventures in the JLI and loved every moment of it. It remains one of my favorite runs to this day. Fast forward a few years when a slightly older BlueStreak heard about a certain DC Countdown special written by Geoff Johns, who was writing the only DC title that I was reading at the time (albeit in trades), Teen Titans. It was around then that I picked up my first floppy and decided to pick up DC Countdown during a random trip to a comic book store shortly thereafter. My first DC single issue featured the death of Ted Kord, one of my favorite characters. There has to be some irony there.
Anyways, Ted's death revitalized his best friend's "career", so to speak. Booster took center stage in Infinite Crisis and 52 and soon earned his own comic. Over the last three years, Booster Gold has been a consistently enjoyable comic. First Geoff Johns brought Booster's character to the fore, giving him a unique new status quo and supporting cast. Then Dan Jurgens returned to the character he created, bringing us adventures with the Elongated Man (another favorite of mine) and some slightly confusing time travel adventures. When it was announced that Giffen and DiMatteis would return to Booster Gold, I was elated, due to my adoration of the JLI.
What we got was a mixture of good and bad. Having Booster go back in time to have another runaround with Ted, Scott Free and Barda was an inspired idea. Seeing Blue Beetle turn into a chipmunk also caused me a great deal of amusement. However, the past couple of months, Booster Gold just hasn't been doing it for me. Maybe it's the rather directionless arc that the story has been set in. And with a wedding approaching and a Review Group Exchange System in need of funds, Booster Gold found itself on the way off BlueStreak's pull list.
Which brings us to this issue, the do or die issue for Booster Gold. Was it a perfect issue? Absolutely not. The story seemed too brief and it was a touch of melodrama. But at the same time, it hit home in all the right ways. Booster's trip to the past rips open the wounds of the loss of his best friend, a death that had been passed over in the chaos of Infinite Crisis. And even though a final jaunt with the Super-Buddies was fun, it's this issue that really drives the story home. Booster has lost a lot over the last few years, perhaps more than any other hero in the DCU. Booster lost all of his closest friends. Ted, Ralph, Sue, Scott, Barda, and Dimitri are all dead, and unlike the rest of the DC universe, they stayed dead. Giffin and DeMatteis point out the stark truth: Booster's friends aren't coming back.
I don't know if I'll be hanging on to Booster Gold in the near future, but it certainly earned a one-month reprieve. This was a solid comic, especially for fans of the character.
Review by False Prophet (New Member!!!)
This is the first issue of BG I've read in a while. Michael's not a completely unlikable character, but for a futuristic hero he represents a version of the DCU I'd prefer was long in the past. After this issue, maybe that'll change. Maybe Booster will change. Maybe letting go of the huckle-chuckle days of the classic, yet defunct, JLI will give the character what he needs to be the prime-time player in the DCU his ego always thought he would be.
There's nothing particularly special about the storytelling here. If anything, it's rife with old-school cliches that work in spite of themselves. The art is only servicable. But there's an air of movement in this issue that makes up for these shortcomings. I've been fooled before by "letting go" issues, but I'll give this one the benefit of the doubt. Ted Kord is dead, and Booster realizes it's time to let go. I can only imagine what that coccept actually means for a time-traveler, but this issue portrays it as heavy stuff indeed. If Booster wants to be a hero of the times, he can't afford to be stuck in times gone by.
So, all in all, this seems like a good starting or ending point for the casual fan. I'll check out BG next month to see if Michael starts to become the hero of the future or if he reverts back to being a braw-ha-ha stick in the mud.
Review by guitarsmashley
That was a decent enough comic. Nothing special but not as bad as I expected it to be. Batista's art did not look very good and looked like older JrJr which is ok but if I wanted that I'd read older JrJr. The ending was plenty sappy but the comic as a whole didn't suffer from being a piece of shit like any avengers book over the last 6 years.
Review by Victorious Squid
Not a lot of time for a longer review, but there's not too much I'd have to say about it anyway. If you've been interested in Booster Gold's character development following Ted Kord's death, if you've got some investment in these characters, this was probably a moving read and hopefully a turning point of sorts for Booster. If you've never been overly interested in Booster Gold and haven't really gone through that grieving for Blue Beetle either, there's just a chance it might all seem a little clichéd and not strike a chord with you.
Review by John Snow
This was for a pretty specific audience. If you don't pine for JLI like Booster does in this comic, most likely you don't give a fuck. The art was good for a second tier DC book, but it couldn't save the comic from the after school specialness of it all.
Review by Starlord
Read it and loved it. If this is the real turning point for Booster's mourning period, then I think it was the perfect. Loved the art. Loved the Dialogue. There really was nothing wrong with this at all.
My Score: 10
Review by Jude Terror
This was a fantastic issue. I'm not one of those people who thinks the JLI was the greatest thing ever. I didn't even read it. I'm also not one of those people that hates Booster Gold. I liked him in 52, and I'm enjoying him in JL:GL. From a lot of the talk of this issue though, it seemed like enjoying it would require a huge emotional investment in the characters, but I don't think it did. The story was totally accessible to someone with just a basic knowledge of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and the general happenings of the DCU over the past ten years.
The story is wrapped in a little bookend monologue from Booster that is a little bit touching, and conveys his sense of loss as well his sense of friendship. Inside the bookends, three plots are running. One is Booster dealing with what I guess is his family. One is an encounter with an aspiring superhero on the street. And the other, which bleeds into the others a bit, is of course his dealing with grief over the loss of his friend. For a $2.99 (I think?) comic, there's a lot of meat to this single issue story. I like that it's light on the decompression, and it left me feeling satisfied.
The art was your standard DC fare, nothing spectacular, nothing terrible. It was adequate. The only part of the issue I took issue with was the typical drop to the knees, grasp at air, throw head back and shout NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! scene that is just completely goofy whenever anyone uses it, and always has the opposite effect of it's intentions, making me laugh rather than feel the character's emotional pain. At the very least, the creators kept the NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! out and just silently showed him screaming.
Booster Gold looks like a decent series overall.
Review by Punchy
Story - This was a strange issue of Booster Gold. For one, it contained absolutely no time-travel whatsoever. That seems impossible to me, a Booster Gold comic without time-travel? That's like a Batman comic without dark alleyways, a Hulk comic without smashing, or an X-Men comic without overwrought metaphors!
Yet somehow, Booster staying in the present worked out very well, allowing Giffen and DeMatteis to showcase what they do best, witty conversational banter, but banter with heart. And man, as a big fan of the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, this issue kind of got to me.
Giffen and DeMatteis' return to a character they so memorably worked on back in the day has been a lot of fun so far, tangentially related to the excellent Justice League: Generation Lost, it's featured Booster Gold travelling through time to try and find proof that Maxwell Lord exists, and the many diversions he's gone through, leading to goofy-yet-endearing team-ups between Booster, Ted Kord, Mister Miracle, Big Barda, General Glory and more, and all sorts of shenanigans. It's been a light-hearted side-story to the rather more serious Generation Lost.
But that all stops here, because while Booster may be able to go back in time and hang out with all those heroes, it doesn't change the fact that all of them, and crucially Ted Kord are dead as hell. This issue deals with Booster himself having to deal with that fact, and it's pretty strong stuff, I know some readers may find it trite, but screw them, I have a bias here and I admit it, I love the old JLI characters, Booster and Beetle in particular, and any issue that deals with them is a plus in my eyes. That's the real strength of Giffen and DeMatteis as a writing team, it's not just constant bwahahahas, they built a Justice League that was full of real people, a Justice League readers actually cared about, and this issue, as well as Generation Lost is a testament to that fact.
That's not to say this issue isn't funny enough, the DeMatteis patter is at it's best here, the back and forth between Booster and Skeets is wonderful, when he gets into full-flow, there aren't many better in comics at this kind of dialogue, maybe not even Bendis! I also liked the rationale behind the new 'Booster' character, topical! Plus, the huge amount of dialogue makes the silent sequences even more important, when DeMatteis goes quiet, you know something's up.
So yeah, I liked this issue a lot. I admit it's personal bias for these old characters and writers, but doesn't everyone have those? I imagine if you're not a pre-existing Booster fan this issue will do little to persuade you, and even if it did, you're likely to be disappointed as it's a very atypical Booster Gold story, but for me, and for legions of other JLI fans, this was just what we needed. This issue was a great trip into the past, and also holds great promise for the future. Perhaps we did travel through time after all?
Art - Chris Batista, is probably the 3rd most important Booster Gold artist, after Dan Jurgens and Kevin Maguire. Batista drew most of the character's stuff in 52, which was the start of his return to greatness, and he's just a great fit, he gets the facial, character conversational stuff, but also the superhero adventure stuff. It's not mindblowing, but hey, do you need it to be?
Best Line - The best line in this issue wasn't a line at all, it was a silent cry of emotion. Which is odd for a Giffen/DeMatteis joint I know, but then again, with them, the best line is never a line, and you'd end up quoting an entire issue, so the Booster Gold cry of anguish it is then.
Review by SilverPheonix
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
That's it for this week. Join us for the week of December 22nd, when the Review Group reviews Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special #1.
Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak