Posted earlier on Population GO.
Writers: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis
Pencillers: Chris Batista, Pat Olliffe
Inker: Rich Perrotta
Booster Gold was one of my favourite ongoing series from DC before everything was relaunched to make way for the New 52. The New 52 has many positives and negatives, but for myself and many others, especially those who collect comics in collected editions, the decision to cancel some of the solicited final trades from the pre-New 52 range was somewhat annoying to say the least.
Having tracked down the uncollected issues, of what would have made the seventh volume of this series (the Flashpoint tie-in story was collected in Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman), were these issues worth buying? Or should only completists pick them up for their collections? Read on to find out.
#39 is definitely the strongest issue of the bunch. I’m surprised that it wasn’t included in the previous volume, since the story follows on nicely from the previous story-arc, acting very much as an epilogue for Past Imperfect. The issue explores Booster’s feelings towards his fallen best friend, Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, in the aftermath of another time-travel story in which he bumped into Ted in the past. This issue does a great job of looking into why Booster has struggled to accept his friend’s death, something which everyone of course, struggles with. However, this is the case, even more so, for Booster, since he can literally jump back and visit Ted any time he wants. Giffen and DeMatteis write a fantastic story in this issue, with a routine patrol leading to Booster’s feelings finally bursting out. This culminates in a visit to Ted’s grave, leading to a page which powerfully conveys the pain and grief Booster feels for his friend. Whilst hardly fun-filled or uplifting, this is a nice heartfelt issue, and is something which fans of Booster and Ted will all want to read. Honestly, I’d recommend just picking up this issue to end your reading of the series.
The following issue is a strange one, seemingly acting as an introduction to Booster Gold. The first half of the issue focuses on Doctor Nishtikeit, Booster’s new self-appointed nemesis, after their clash back in the Second World War in Future Imperfect. The intel Nishtikeit’s minions gather on Booster acts as a nice way of recapping his origin, introducing it to those unfamiliar with them, whilst setting up the main story. Indeed, it really strikes you when reading this issue just how much Giffen and DeMatteis love Booster Gold as a character, with #40 being littered with references to his past. The second half of the issue sees Booster perform his less than exemplary heroics against a new villain, Hit Point, which is packed full of amusing little moments, which the writers have provided throughout their too-short run on the book. And then there is the ending which I didn’t see coming – upon his return to base, Booster is placed under arrest by Rip Hunter for stealing the artifacts which grant him his powers!
#41-43 are an interesting read. What I expected to be a relatively straight-forward story, with Booster resolving the issue of becoming a hero via committing a crime, spins into a bizarre and well-thought out story. It’s another instance of Rip Hunter at his enigmatic and manipulative best, with the time guardian claiming he wants Booster to be put on trial in the future so he can pay for his crime, and truly move ahead. There is more fantastic snappy dialogue, as one would expect from this book, before a series of either spontaneous, or anticipated and planned events occur. The teased attack by Nishtikeit is launched, only for the mad scientist to be easily defeated. Or so it seems anyway. Following the attack, Booster faces the court of his era, and accordingly is sentenced to 5 years for his theft. During his imprisonment, he meets a mysterious individual – his new cell mate, the Perforated Man!
The Perforated Man was an interesting idea, and one which I’m surprised this series didn’t introduce earlier. The twist about the character was fairly predictable, but it did serve well to advance the bizarre plot, moving Booster onto the next phase of Rip Hunter’s carefully constructed plan in #43. A deranged individual, the Perforated Man is suffering from chronal leprosy, a disease which sees him cursed to spontaneously travel through time against his will, where parts of his body are sometimes left behind, leading to his gradual descent into insanity. It’s a fantastically whacky disease, and with a real Silver Age vibe about it. Of course, the character isn’t just introduced for the fun of it, but to serve as a key point in the story’s plot.
As noted, the final three issues tell a really bizarre story, which will not be for everyone. For a story which supposedly addresses the fact that Booster stole in order to become a hero, there is no direct resolution for his crime, other than his serving his prison sentence. Indeed, the ending of the story left me with an odd feeling, with it seemingly setting up more stories in the future for Booster Gold – but Flashpoint, came along next, leaving him revamped in the New 52.
Batista primarily handles the art duties, with Olliffe only fully pencilling #40. Batista’s art is something which I would describe as being fairly solid, if not spectacular, with some characters looking a tad blocky at times. However, it isn’t something which detracts from your enjoyment when reading, and it is more than made up for with the design of the Perforated Man, especially when he removes his mask. Oh, and of course that page in #39, where you can see that outpour of emotion from Booster at Ted’s grave. It is truly excellent storytelling, being one of those moments where words aren’t needed to tell you what is going on. As I’ve already said, #39 is definitely the best issue out of the five, and deserves to be read by fans of the character and series.
Considering it, these issues are certainly worth grabbing hold of. The final story-arc shows Rip Hunter at his mysterious best, scheming away and pushing Booster towards his destiny of becoming a great hero. Giffen and DeMatteis are renowned for excelling at their characterisation and witty dialogue, and despite the more depressing and serious tone of these issues, they deliver once again, with everyone given a unique voice, and numerous snappy lines of dialogue which I’m sure will bring a smile to your face. If anything, reading these issues has made me miss Skeets even more, with the security robot replaced in the New 52 with an earpiece, not too dissimilar to what Booster Gold used in the Smallville TV series. Indeed, the final story also stresses just how much Booster has matured during this series, evolving not just as a hero, but as a man as well. It’s a shame that the New 52 backtracked on this a bit…
All in all, these issues are certainly something I would recommend for those of you who were waiting for the cancelled trade. The first issue is certainly the strongest and most poignant, whilst the last four issues were made somewhat redundant by the relaunch. However, if you’ve read from #1 to the final collected edition, then this will be a rewarding read, nicely rounding off Booster’s adventures as the new guardian of the time stream.