Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Comic Book Day

Okay, so technically Wednesday is the day that new comic books come out but life has been beating me upside the head with a baseball bat recently so I wasn't able to get out and pick up my comics until today.

Included in this week's stash was a comic that made me smile... really just made me smile to read it. And what was that comic you might ask? Booster Gold #30. HERE THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! Eventually.

A little background... Writer/artist Dan Jurgens created the character of Booster Gold back in 1986. Originally rather inspired by the Regan Years, Jurgens crafted his new hero character as a guy who decided to use superheroing as a way to get famous and earn money but was something of a bit of a screw-up. The twist was that Jurgens still managed to give the character real heart, make the stories fun, and show character progression for as long as the series lasted (which at the time was only a few years).

For those who have come in late.....
Michael Jon Carter comes from the 25th century. He was a college football star, well on his way to eventually turning pro. In a bad decision made for family reasons Michael agreed to throw a game... and got caught.

Disgraced, Michael was kicked out of the university. His pro football career was over before it began and the only job he could find was as a night watchman for a museum. Getting a bright idea, Michael raided the museum's "Hall of Heroes", taking a costume which would give him durability and superhuman strength, a belt that created a forcefield, and a ring that allowed him to fly. He also stole a time travel vehicle from the display.

Michael went back in time intending to start all over, become a superhero, then use his celebrity status combined with his knowledge of what was to him the past and to everyone else the future to make money. Thus came Booster Gold.

Booster had his ups and downs. As a hero he often made mistakes but usually pulled a win out at the last minute but not without repercussions. Despite his concern for money and fame, however, deep down, Booster really cared about people and really did want to help. On many occasions he acted selflessly. As an entrepreneur, he did garner a fortune only to lose it by being betrayed by his business manager. Many of his 'get rich quick' schemes after that tended to blow up in his face or get himself and his friends in trouble.

He actually served on various incarnations of the Justice League and he suffered because of that as well -- at one point having lost an arm and the rest of his body so badly damaged he could not live outside of a power suit. He got better. It's comic books whaddya expect?

The final straw came when Booster, because of his lack of knowledge about the past, saw his best friend, Blue Beetle, killed, his longtime robot companion, Skeets, dismantled for parts, and many other friends killed or badly injured. He retreated back to the future but while there he found a way to restore Skeets and returned to the past armed with complete knowledge of what would happen.

After helping stop a major threat, Booster believed he was destined to be invited to join one of the greatest iterations of the Justice League. When this failed to materialize along with other events he came to realize that something or someone was altering time. He ended up joining forces with a hero called Rip Hunter -- a Time Master whose job it was to protect the time stream from time traveling villains. In an effort to protect himself and his family, Rip has hidden his true name, where he comes from and when he was born from the world.

Although Booster helped save the day no one knew about his actions to save the time stream. Put through the wringer for a whole year, Booster had enough of time travel and declared that he wanted nothing more than to get on the Justice League again and pursue a life a fame and fortune. When Rip Hunter, however, showed him that many of his friends and fellow heroes would either die or cease to exist because of problems in the time stream Booster agreed to finally give up on his dreams of fame and fortune for a higher calling.

The twist of it all was that, to the world at large, Booster had to remain a grandstanding, ineffectual hero so that villains who plundered time for their own gains would not try to end his career by traveling through time and killing Booster while he was still an infant or preventing his parents from meeting.

So now Booster is a Time Master in training -- operating under the guidance of Rip Hunter, making sure that the histories of his fellow heroes remain as they ought -- for both bad and good. And it isn't always a bed of roses. Booster has been forced to allow certain people to die, he's been forced to allow certain heroes to become villains all to make sure that time stays on course. But there's a little secret here. Rip didn't pick Booster for this job by accident... Booster is his father. Of course, Booster isn't aware of that little fact yet. Nor is he aware of the fact that he is destined to kick off a heroic family legacy and become known as one of the greatest of the Time Masters.

With issue number #30 Dan Jurgens, who has been writing the revamped series since issue #13, is preparing to leave temporarily to work on another project. As his swan song he has given readers a really nice wrap up to the last story arc. Booster is faced with one of his hardest missions -- he must stop a well-meaning time meddler.

A few years in the past a city the size of L.A. was completely destroyed. The government has sent their first time traveler back in time to stop this from happening and Booster is placed in the unenviable position of having to stop them -- having to see that millions die. Can he do it? Or will he change time himself?

Now, I know, the above story doesn't sound like something that would make you smile, right? Well, the kicker comes at the end. Throughout the story arc readers had been seeing a mysterious figure who seemed to be dropping hints for Booster and his compatriots throughout. When the mystery man finally stands revealed to Rip it turns out to be.... his father. Sixty some-odd year old Michael Carter. What Jurgens does perfectly here, though, with both his art and his dialogue is to show readers a character who truly seems... balanced. Here his Booster Gold is a man who has made peace with his past -- who is secure in who and what he is and, despite having a pretty busy job keeping the time stream and the multiverse safe, is happy. Not in that, over-the-top, impossibly happy-ever-after kind of way but in that quiet, 'everything is going pretty well and all things considered that's enough' kind of way.

And that's enough to make me smile.

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