Since his introduction to the DC Universe Booster Gold has been an athlete, a thief, a fool and a hero — and starting with “Booster Gold” #44, he’ll be one of the big players in DC’s upcoming “Flashpoint” event.
Since seeing the final page of “Time Masters: Vanishing Point,” fans have been puzzling over the mysterious notes on Rip Hunter’s blackboard and what they mean for the commercially-endorsed crusader. With “Booster Gold” #44, Booster creator Dan Jurgens returns to the comic to answer those questions, once again helming the ongoing series as both artist and writer.
CBR News spoke with Jurgens about his plans for the Booster Gold “Flashpoint” story, as well as his thoughts on Giffen and DeMatteis’ run and what makes Michael Jon Carter tick (hint: its fame).
CBR News: What can you tell us about your upcoming Booster Gold “Flashpoint” story?
Dan Jurgens: For those who haven’t read “Time Masters: Vanishing Point,” it ended with Booster and Rip getting back to the Time Lab in Arizona and finding Rip’s famous blackboard with all sorts of intriguing things written on it, along with the revelation Rip didn’t write a single one of them. “Booster Gold” #44 is basically going to pick up right from there, which is going to throw us headlong into DC’s “Flashpoint” this summer.
Are all the things written on the blackboard specifically referring to events in “Flashpoint?” How planned out are the details on the blackboard?
Each and every one of them points to the “Flashpoint” project, which Booster will be very much a part of, and is going to tell what we think is a rollicking good story through the DCU! If you take a look at that blackboard, hopefully there are enough items of intrigue there to get the appetite whetted a little bit.
When we first put together the “Time Masters: Vanishing Point” six-issue series, we absolutely knew that we were going to start off as a search for Bruce Wayne project, then segue into a bit of a set-up project for “Flashpoint.” In terms of everything on the board, that’s all pretty well thought out.
We know the concepts of time travel and alternate reality feature heavily in “Flashpoint.” Does this mean Booster Gold will be crossing over into “Flash” or other comics associated with “Flashpoint?”
It’s always tough [to answer this sort of question] because, obviously, the fans have interest and they want to find out. There’s always that delicate line of trying to give enough to get people genuinely interested and hopefully answer a few questions. But at the same time not going so far as to answer them when they say, “Well, what happens in the last issue on page 22?”
So, how to answer that?! We want to be careful not to give too much away, but yes — Booster will be moving around a little bit.
In the current storyline, Booster is in the process of, well, growing up. He’s being responsible, he’s getting allowing himself to be arrested to pay for his crimes, he’s raising his adoptive daughter Rani — how will what Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis have been doing affect your run?
Obviously, as you said, they have Booster growing up a little bit, and I think that continues something Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and I started with the book when it first came back. I think what we’ve certainly implied is that Booster is on a steady course of maturation and just being a little bit more serious about things.
On the other hand — Batman has a secret identity, and that’s Bruce Wayne. Booster Gold’s secret identity is idiotic Booster Gold, and he’s still going to have that aspect to him no matter how much he matures. He’s going to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, make the awkward joke — it’s just who he is. That much won’t change. Certainly, as part of the whole backdrop of who Booster is, I think he’s still going to have that interest in commercialism and getting himself in the media and getting known. Once again, Booster is a guy who likes the spotlight. There’s still plenty of room to play with all of that stuff while continuing the course he’s been on.
In “Generation Lost,” we recently saw another Blue Beetle killed in front of Booster’s eyes. Is this going to play into your arc at all?
No. I think we’ve seen a lot of Booster and Blue Beetle stories lately, which is remarkable, as Ted is dead! [Laughs] Jeff and Geoff wrote the “Booster and Ted have their final goodbye story” in the first twelve issues of the book when they were around, and then we did Booster speaking at Ted’s funeral and the Blackest Night stuff. I think at this point it’s important to put some of the Booster and Ted Kord stuff behind us and move forward in different directions.
Do you think Booster needs to have Ted Kord to serve as a foil for him? Or does Booster’s supporting cast — Michelle, Rip, and Rani — define the character in a similar fashion?
I think it’s true of any character that they need a strong supporting cast, and they need that cast around [them] to bring out certain personality traits. I don’t necessarily think that has to be Ted.
Speaking in general terms, different people bring out different traits in a main character, just as it happens to us in real life. I think you have this dynamic between Rip Hunter and Booster, for example, which is really interesting because Booster is Rip’s father — and Booster doesn’t even realize that. So Rip is acting as the mentor to his own father, which is a very interesting notion. I think there’s a lot of stuff we can utilize there to bring out different personality traits in terms of who Booster is, as can his sister. I think if we’re talking about Booster hanging out with Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle, you get a different twist there as well, just because all of a sudden, Booster is the mentor, whereas before, Ted and Booster were equals.
So to answer in general terms, yes, you need a supporting cast, and that’s a good way to indicate a lot of personality traits. Does it have to be Ted? No, I don’t think so.
You’re talking a lot about mentorship. Do you think that’s an important part of “Booster Gold?”
I do. There are few conventions in superhero comics that I think are not played with enough, and one of those is this idea of training. I’ve never believed the notion that someone puts on a suit and from square one they are accomplished and ready to go. Even as a kid, one of the things I liked about Batman and Robin, which I don’t know I really realized, necessarily, but I somehow understood it by osmosis, is that Batman was the boss and Robin was the partner, but Batman was training Robin at the same time. I think that’s a real practical way to develop heroes within the context of a superhero universe. It doesn’t mean everybody has to work that way, but the whole notion that you’re walking through your backyard and an atomic comet slams into the ground giving you magical powers, and all of a sudden — you know what to do? I like the mentoring aspect, I like the idea that you have Rip Hunter molding Booster into the character he’s supposed to become, and in turn I like that Booster is willing to do that for someone else who has adopted the Blue Beetle name.
Do you think Booster being a flawed superhero is one of the reasons he’s become as popular as he has?
I think so. Booster is a hero because he screwed up. Because he was a star college athlete, theoretically at that time he had everything in his grasp. If he makes the right choices, he becomes an incredibly highly paid professional athlete — but he screws up. He falls in with gamblers, he bets on games, he throws games, the whole bit. Booster has already paid the price for his flaws. Him becoming a hero out of the mistakes he’s made I think makes him legitimate in the eyes of a lot of people. He didn’t have the noble upbringing that Clark Kent did. He didn’t have the incredible traumatic event that young Bruce Wayne did. He’s doing this because he screwed up. He still wants now what he wanted then, he’s just going about it a different way. His intentions are pure now, but he’s still making mistakes and screwing up along the way. We all know people like this! Some people seem to march through life and nothing fazes them, and they go from A to C to D and things work out great. And then there are other people we know who weave through life, and they go from A to F to back to C and over to G and then head to M! That’s who Booster is.
And then there’s the whole “hero as a commodity” aspect to Booster. You once said you got the initial idea after watching the Olympics…
We would have to go back to the early ’80s, and things were much different then than they are now. Olympic athletes had to be amateurs — you couldn’t be an Olympic swimmer who had already done advertising, or rent your name out to promotional vehicles. You still had to have that so-called amateur status. At that time, they were talking about someone who had not yet won a medal but already had endorsement deals in place, so that once the Olympics were done and they did have their medal, they were set to cash in. I’d say that’s sort of what got me thinking about that in terms of heroics.
What’s interesting to me is the world of crass commercialism that we saw coming in the ’80s has really amplified and multiplied since then. In a way, Booster pre-dated some things, and absolutely in some ways is more in tune with the times now than he was back then. I remember, when I first started talking to Dick Giordano about selling the character to DC, he’d say, “So, he’s a character for hire?”
“No, he’s not a hero for hire, Dick, he’s going to sell his name, he’s going to get endorsement deals. He’s going to have books and toys and all of this stuff.” That’s still a strong part of who Booster is, and I think that makes him now fit in more with the world today than it did then.
For many fans, a lot of Booster’s appeal also lies in the fact that he’s flat out funny. Are there real world comedians who influence your writing?
Ooooh! [Laughs] Certainly one of the first things that comes to mind is, if I go back to a couple of years prior to Booster, I was at the age where “National Lampoon” as a magazine had its heyday. There was some really great satire and irreverence there. I think maybe there could be something of that to be found in [“Booster Gold”].
I always try to walk the line where Booster can make the joke and fall into a set of circumstances where you can look at it and say, “This is classic Booster — only Booster could have this happen to him.” At the same time, [I need to] make sure Booster doesn’t come off as being stupid, because he’s certainly not that. It’s like I said earlier; he’s the one who turns left when he should turn right, so he gets to his destination ten minutes later than the next guy!
Other than you, the two writers who have worked on the character the most are Giffen and DeMatteis. Do you ever get together and compare notes?
Oh, yeah! Keith and I talk all the time. Keith was remarkably generous about calling me up and bouncing ideas off of me, saying, “Well here’s what I want to do, does this work?” I’d say, “Yeah, that works. Go ahead and knock yourself out!” while also making sure he was doing what he wanted to do and telling the story that he wanted to tell. I certainly wanted to give those guys room to do what they wanted to do with the character, but Keith was very good to call me up. Which, if I was doing Lobo or Ambush Bug, is exactly what I would do in return.
There has been talk about building a Booster Gold rogues gallery — is that something you want to focus on, creating arch-enemies or people coming from the future to deal with him?
They don’t have to be time travelers from the future, but yes, Booster certainly starts to have more villains. One of the reasons we haven’t yet divulged the secret of who the Black Beetle is because we want to continue to build him to that level where he’s identified as a Booster Gold villain before we really get into asking, “Why is he Booster’s villain?”
Comics are a collaborative medium, and a lot of other people will be writing Booster, a character who originated with you. What is the core concept to Booster Gold that you want people to retain in their iterations of the character from now to future generations to come?
There are several. One: Booster does enjoy life. He enjoys what he’s doing now because he fell into the bottom of the hole, a deep hole, and he climbed out. So he enjoys what he’s doing, and that should be reflected in how he goes about his business.
Two: he is young — in my head he’s 23 years old, and in some ways more immature than that! [Laughs] But he’s on that upward swing. I don’t think you’ll ever write him in his present form as if he’s fully arrived. He’s irreverent; if he senses a hero around him being too stuffy, he’ll go the opposite course. He almost will play the jokester just to contradict those who are around him.
Time travel is a natural element for him, and so that’s always a part of it. His origin is rooted in time travel, and we were doing time travel stores from the start. He’s a guy who really is trying to do the right thing, but like I said earlier, he just gets there in a less clean and straightforward fashion than other heroes. And there you go!
“Booster Gold” #44 hits stores May 18