When I started reading “Booster Gold” #30, in just a page or two I realized that I’d made a mistake. Somehow, I’d missed reading the previous issue. (A search of my home later revealed that #29 had accidentally slid under the couch last month. Also, there were quite a few dust bunnies camping out there.) But rather than put the issue down and wait, I decided to see if a suspicion of mine would bear out. And sure enough, my theory was correct. Namely, that Dan Jurgens always makes sure that a new reader won’t feel lost when reading an issue of “Booster Gold.”
It’s that old-school mentality (“every issue is someone’s first” is just one of the tenants of this particular school of thought) that I think I’ll miss the most when Jurgens leaves “Booster Gold” after #31. Month after month, Jurgens tells solid, heroic stories about Booster Gold and his attempts to save the world as best he can. There’s never any nasty guile, or untrustworthy nature about the protagonist of the book. Sure, he may have started his career trying to make a quick buck, but in this current series he’s having to save the world without anyone knowing about his exploits. The end result is a comic about a character who always tries, and when he doesn’t succeed at first he learns from his mistakes and gives it another shot. It almost makes you wonder if that’s the problem with the sales of “Booster Gold.”
In an industry where most superhero books are still varying degrees of grim and serious, “Booster Gold” has stood out like a sore thumb. I wonder if this was deliberate on both Jurgens’ and DC’s part, using it as a lightning rod to see if it would attract or scare away readers. I suspect it ended up being more of the latter, and that’s really too bad. Sure, a story about Booster Gold traveling back in time to the destruction of Coast City (which happened during the “Reign of the Supermen” story in the early ’90s) has a foregone conclusion, but it’s Booster’s struggle and even his little victories where some select few do get to survive that make the issue attention-getting. I like how Booster and his sister Goldstar are written, and seeing them try and fight the inevitability of the situation around them is more interesting than one might have thought.
Even Jurgens’ art is slightly old school, with its crisp, clean style. I love that Jurgens has recruited Jerry Ordway (who not only has a similar style but also was one of the artists on the “Superman” titles back when Jurgens rose to fame there) to draw part of the issue; they both have a strong understanding of the human form and while it’s certainly slightly idealized, it’s a handsome overall look to the book. When not plagued with guest-writers (something else that I think may have contributed to the book’s sales decline), “Booster Gold” has been an enjoyable comic, first thanks to Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, and now Dan Jurgens. Hopefully Keith Giffen will be able to do the same when he takes over in two months. I’d like to see this title succeed without becoming something radically different.