Friday, February 1, 2008

REVIEW :: Booster Gold

by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, Dan Jurgens, & Norm Rapmund
reviewed by Jason Wheatley

Superhero comics and boastful taglines have gone hand in hand since, well, forever. Fantastic Four: “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” The Avengers: “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” Invincible: “Probably the Best Superhero Comic Book in the Universe!” But Booster Gold’s is a little different: “The Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of!”

That somewhat lackluster claim is actually part of the hook of the story, but it also prompted me to write this review. Booster Gold is probably one of the most underrated books DC puts out right now, and that’s a shame. If you’re a DC fan, you’ll find Booster Gold weaves itself so well into the tapestry of DC’s history without contradicting previous stories. In fact, it does a lot to enhance and explain some older tales.

Spinning out of last year’s weekly series 52, Booster Gold follows the titular hero and Rip Hunter as they travel through the timestream, in a very “Quantum Leap”-like fashion, fixing things that once went wrong. Someone’s out to destroy the Justice League by altering the past, and it’s up to Booster and Rip, the only heroes aware of the plot, to keep that from happening. But in order to keep his own past from being altered, Booster must live up to his reputation of being an ineffectual buffoon, even as he’s single-handedly saving the DC Universe.

Geoff Johns is known as being like Booster Gold, in a way – he’s able to repair screw-ups in DC continuity that no other writer would think of touching. That encyclopedic knowledge of DC history makes him a perfect choice for this book, with its heavy doses of time travel and error-fixing. I’m not sure how much of the writing Johns is responsible for and how much is from his friend and writing partner, Jeff Katz, but together they’re producing a book that’s a fun romp through key moments in DC continuity, but one that doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae, which would be an oh-so-easy trap to fall into. Along the way, though, we get to visit old friends long gone and answers to nagging questions that may have bothered fans for years, such as why some tragedies can be prevented and not others.

Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens is along for the ride as the book’s penciler, and he’s turning out some really great stuff here. Ever since I first saw his art during his days on Superman, I’ve thought his clean, bold style is perfect for capturing the adventures of square-jawed, heroic figures such as Superman and Captain America. That’s not quite the kind of person Booster Gold is, but it’s the kind of person he aspires to be, so it definitely works here. Jurgen’s pencils are strengthened by Norm Rapmund’s inks and finishes – this is probably the best I’ve ever seen his art look. It’s detailed without being overly rendered, and very distinct and easy to follow.

Booster Gold is a lot like “Back to the Future Part II,” if you’re a fan of that series (and who isn’t?), particularly after Marty and Doc Brown revisit 1955. You’re watching one story, but you’re seeing glimpses of an old, familiar story at the same time, and seeing that old story from new perspectives, as well. It’s a great way to revisit the past. And here’s one last enticement to give this book a try: Anyone who decried the death of Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, in 2006’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis, will want to check out Booster Gold #7. That issue begins the “Blue and Gold” story arc, featuring the returned Ted Kord adventuring through time with his best pal, Booster Gold! (Ted returns in Booster Gold #6, on stands now!) Don’t let Booster Gold be the best book you’ve never tried!


Cooper said...

I need to throw out a hearty "Hear, hear!" I was never really into Booster until 52, but I've always loved Jurgens and Johns. I picked up the first issue as a skeptic, but I was totally blown away. I love all the little teases they throw in with the various time rip scenes.

Andy Mansell said...

Nice review Jason-- did you see that Showcase Booster Gold is coming out in the next few months. If my recollection is correct, this was a great read.