The Gold Standard #51: April First in May

My first encounter with Booster Gold came in, actually, my first real comic. The Death of Superman. For years he was, to me, the guy in the cool costume, that not only named Doomsday, but got his ass completely kicked by him. This was my first, and for a while, only exposure to the greatness that is Booster Gold. I only read the Superman books, so there was no JLA Booster for me, or even Extreme Justice. Just those pages from the Death of Superman.

Several years later I picked up a book on a whim, having heard a few good things about it. Formerly Known as the Justice League. I had heard of most of the characters, but let’s be honest, how long had it been since most of these characters had been relevant? When Morrison’s JLA had launched, the side books, the Leaguers that weren’t in the ‘Big Seven’ were benched. They had to make the brand important, and to do that, one team. Made sense, but it pushed characters like Booster Gold, Fire, Max Lord, and Captain Atom into limbo. Ted “Blue Beetle” Kord was fortunate enough to earn a guest starring role in Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey, as a love interest for Babs, but even then, he also got a heart condition and had to stop being the Beetle. Ralph and Sue Dibny got a little page time over in Starman, but for the most part, limbo. So when you hear people saying that DiDio has it out for the JLI, well, they were benched for ten years before he drew first blood.

ANYWAY, this amazing mini series by Keith GIffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire was pure gold, and it introduced me to a kind of Justice League I had never really known. I loved it immediately, especially the Booster Gold and Blue Beetle friendship. No longer were they the two guys with cool costumes getting the crap beaten out of them by Doomsday, they had characterization. Most importantly, they were fun.

Alright, I cheated, let me rewind just a little bit to my formal reintroduction to all things Booster. Justice League Unlimited, and ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’. I’ve seen every episode of every cartoon in the DCAU, and far and away, that was my favorite. I wasn’t even a Booster Gold fan, per-se, going in, but coming out? I loved the character immediately, the premise, the goofy robot sidekick, and commanding lack of any and all respect from his peers. Here’s this guy who, despite his own arrogance, and an overwhelming need to be in the limelight, and over the course of one episode he accepts his own limitations, pushes through them, saves the entire world, and then still gets bitched out by the Justice League for bailing on crowd control. And then rather than tell anyone about it? He just sighs and goes about doing as told, he doesn’t make a big deal, he doesn’t try and get everyone to believe what he just did, he accepts himself for what he’s perceived to be. And you know what? He still got the girl.

Squeaky wheel, my friend. Squeaky wheel.

Instant fan. Seriously, instant fan. To me it made him feel more human than any Kansas farm boy, or billionaire orphan. Sure, he was from the future, but he was just a normal guy with a super suit and a giant ego. He was human. It was pretty cool.

Not too long after this Booster saw a resurgence in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, coming out of character limbo to get blown up rather than let Ted Kord take the blast. Sure, Ted was dead by the end of the issue, but Booster’s adventures continued into the O.M.A.C. Project, and then into Infinite Crisis. Booster helped save the day, as it was his plan that defeated Brother Eye. Sure, his best friend was still dead, and his former boss had done it, but he helped save the world.

52 came next, and I’ll admit, Booster’s story is only my second favorite part of the book…..I’m sorry Boost, but Teth Adam had such an amazing character arc in that book. But Booster was awesome! He saved the entire multiverse! He proved himself to be worlds smarter than anyone had given him credit for, as he outsmarted Mr. Mind with the help of Rip Hunter. And this, of course, led to his solo series.

I adore his solo series, and I’ll be honest again, for as much as I loved what Johns was doing, Dan Jurgens is the quintessential writer for Booster. But both got one thing right, his strength as a character lies in the fact that he has to be the greatest hero that nobody has ever heard of. He has to save the timestream, but people have to think he’s an idiot so he can do that correctly. It constantly conflicts with his ego, but that’s what grows the character. Having to get past his own personal issues and demons in order to do what’s right. Having to accept that he can’t just change whatever he wants, that he has to follow a greater mission.

It’s kind of awesome, if you ask me. The guy that nobody thought would ever succeed, that everyone thought was a joke, has become one of the most well rounded heroes in the DC Universe.

My personal fandem for him has grown over the past few years, to the point where you could call me a Booster-holic. I’ve got five of his action figures, trading cards, complete runs of both of his solo series, and even the Booster Gold Fan Club shirt. And I’ll tell you all right now, the next missing piece in this collection? JLI.

Booster Gold. My April First. Even if you are reading this in May.

I mean, what can I say? I celebrate 4/20 like it’s Hanukkah.

Peace people!

The Gold Standard

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