I’m going to go ahead and declare this series broken. Perhaps Dan Jurgens can fix it when he takes over the writing chores in two months, but “Booster Gold” has a fundamental problem that it needs to overcome. What started out as a kind of backwards “Forrest Gump” through the highlights of DC history became a series of Elseworlds explorations under Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz. And, yet, it was a decent read, mostly because those two guys knew how to mesh the right amount of continuity in-jokes with an overarching character arc as Booster and his rag-tag crew worked to keep the time stream safe. It was the superhero version of that early-80s television show “Voyagers!” and while it wasn’t the greatest comic in the world, it was enjoyable.
But with the Chuck Dixon two-parter, and now the beginning of a short stint by Rick Remender, the series is showing how easily it can all come apart at the seams. The problem here is that nothing matters. It’s all just alternate realities and time ripples and everything’s going to be solved by Booster going back in time and punching the right bad guy at the right moment. Since nothing matters and since there’s little overall plot progression, “Booster Gold” feels like a series of fill-in issues. Now, it has been a series of fill-in issues for the past few months, so that has, of course, accentuated the problem. But even fill-in issues don’t have to feel like fill-ins. They can contribute to the overall narrative. These don’t. They’re just filler stories about time anomalies.
Rick Remender’s other work like “Fear Agent” and “The End League” has shown that he’s able to take traditional genres and recombine them to new effect. Here, as he did with recent “Atom” series, he simply gives us very traditional stories presented in traditional ways. Starro has taken over a bunch of character with his face-sticky-things. Yet again. The time travel element doesn’t enhance the conflict — all it does it make everything seem so simply fixed. Sure, Booster isn’t going to have an easy time going back and making things right, but he will, and then the next story arc will have another time ripple, and he’ll have to go fix that. Repeat. Until the inevitable cancellation.
The other strike against this issue is the work of Pat Olliffe. I didn’t particularly enjoy his work on the “Atom” series (or anything else he’s ever done), but here he’s inked by Jerry Ordway. Ordway makes everyone look great. He doesn’t just ink, he redraws, in his own style, over even the tightest layouts. But even Ordway can’t make Olliffe’s work look interesting, especially in the final few pages. This is pure speculation on my part, but it seems like he had to rely on Olliffe’s actual pencils a bit more at the end, and didn’t have time to redraw the weaker panels. There’s a marked difference in quality between the first half of this comic and the second, and when Chronos and Lady Chronos appear in the most generic pose ever, I put the blame on Olliffe. Even Ordway’s embellishments can’t cure the fundamental layout and design problems there.
Remender and Olliffe have one more issue to wrap up this bland Starro two-parter, and if this series is going to survive under Dan Jurgens it has to become more than just a time anomaly-of-the-month kind of series. It needs to have a real story, with real stakes, even if those stakes are at a cosmic, temporal level. Even though “Booster Gold” is about the infinite possibilities of time, it feels too small, too insular, and too pointless.