Saturday, May 15, 2010

Booster Gold # 32 – A Review

Booster Gold #32

Writer: Keith Giffen & J. M. Dematteis

Artist: Chris Batista

Inker: Rich Perrotta

Colors: Hi-Fi

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

I’ve been following the Booster Gold series since the relaunch a few years ago. If you remember, the first story arc was originally co-written by Geoff Johns. Basically, Booster travels through time to correct problems with the timestream. Unfortunately for him, he has to maintain his shallow persona to the world at large to ensure that no one (except Batman) really knows what he’s accomplishing -- hence the cover banner “The Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of”. He works with Rip Hunter, who unbeknownst to Booster is really Booster’s son. Most of the series thus far has been drawn or written by Booster’s creator Dan Jurgens.

It’s certainly been a consistently entertaining book for me. Many of the story arcs have Booster going back to a key moment in DCU history (past and future). Recently, he went to Coast City just before Cyborg-Superman and Mongul wiped it off the face of the earth. While I’ve enjoyed the series thus far, I was actually hoping it would end around issue 25 or so. Unlike Spider-Girl, which I want to run forever, I wouldn’t shed any tears over the demise of this title. I like it, but I don’t love it.

Well, in some respects, the book did end with issue 31 (I actually think both 30 and 31 were epilogue issues). Dan Jurgens is off the book and Giffen and Demattieis of the “funny” Justice League series are now the writers, who promise to bring the “BWA-HA-HA” back to the character. Now, I have the Justice League issues written by them and drawn by Adam Hughes and I thought they were pretty funny. So, I was wondering if I would take to the new direction, after all, I’ve been following “serious” Booster for almost three years now.

I’ve gotta say that I really had a hard time getting through the beginning of the issue. Having the opening gag be a little girl needing to go to the bathroom while the Darkseid controlled Daxamites are destroying the planet (Daxam) surface during the “Great Darkness War” from the Legion of Super-Heroes series was not a good way to start for me. It wasn’t funny – not to me anyway. I felt like I should be laughing uproariously, but there wasn’t even a chuckle. This reminded me of watching any of the Home Alone movies. Others (especially in my family) love it, but I can’t stand it. Just not my type of humor I guess. What I did think was funny were the opening credits:

“Have pity on poor Dan Jurgens, because…Keith Giffen & J. M. Dematteis are back – ready to soil his cherished creation, just like they did in the 80’s! But take heart Dan: Chris Batista is drawing this, so at least it will look good!”

One of the problems I had was that this book is extremely dialogue heavy. The writers like dialogue like George Perez (where has he been lately anyway?) likes detail. Perhaps, I should’ve read the book out loud, as I couldn’t get the timing right in my head. Even though there is a lot of talking, the art certainly isn’t boring. In fact it’s quite good and there are certainly more panels than a typical Jurgens issue. So, in terms of money value – it’s a very dense book – it’s like three issues of a normal comic.

So, Booster has been sent to this time and place by Rip to retrieve an artifact. He’s got a band of aliens with him along with two humans, a lady and the little girl with the bursting bladder. They’re trying to escape the barrage of heat vision, so they make they’re way down to a prison level where they encounter Emerald Empress and Eye. I only know about E.E. from the Legion cartoon from a few years ago, so I can’t tell if she’s acting in character or not. Anyway, she seems quite enamored with Booster and she wants to “eat” him up. Booster’s up for the playful banter until Empress threatens the little girl, which provokes him to kick Eye like a football. Booster perceives that Eye is the real threat, since it vaporized one of the aliens and successfully lures it into some heat vision where it appears to be destroyed.

Now, this is where the book got really interesting. We next see Empress with blood dripping from her fingers in front of the two humans. She leaves to search for Eye and as we pull back we learn that the woman and girl had to watch her murder all of the other aliens. They’re in shock and tears are streaming down their faces. Booster comes back and is stunned, “I…I didn’t think she was capable of … I didn’t…” The remorse and regret on his face is very moving, especially as he cups his face in his hands. Rani (the pee-girl) now seems to have it together and urges him to help them get away in case the Empress comes back. That’s when they discover the lady, Jennaux, committed suicide by jumping down an open hole. She was too traumatized by what she witnessed. So, the book’s not so funny anymore – if anything the humor (or attempt anyway) in the beginning was setting this scene up to be more emotional.

Booster returns to the present with the little girl. It turns out that he misread Rip’s post-it note and arrived on the 8th, instead of the 5th, so that’s why he was dealing with Darkseid’s takeover of the planet. However, since he did manage to bring back the artifact (Doctor Fate’s helmet) keeping it from Darkseid, he actually saved the universe – again. I didn’t particularly like the way Rip seemed to downplay Booster’s grief, since all those people were meant to die anyway. There are a few indications that this could turn into a Daddy Day-care arc with Booster fostering this girl, which Skeets (Booster’s flying robot companion) is not thrilled about in the least. That makes two of us. The issue ends with Booster finding out that Maxwell Lord is alive again thinks to the events of Blackest Night/Brightest Day. His remark is classic and appropriate (not that I approve of that sort of language mind you).

Overall Grade B: for Booster or “BWA-HA-HA”. I’m not entirely sold on the new direction, but it did surprise me that it was much more serious than it was hyped to be (and more effective than I thought it would be), which means I’ll be staying in the Booster time sphere for a little while longer.

I’m also looking forward to the Time Master’s mini-series with the Dan Jurgens Booster. I don’t care if it’s “really” tied in with the “Return of Bruce Wayne” or not. :)

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