I understand that fill-ins on a monthly title are sometimes a fact of life. So there may have not been another option when it came to having Keith Giffen and Pat Olliffe provide a fill-in for “Booster Gold” #20. But when you consider that the four-issue gap between Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz leaving “Booster Gold” and Dan Jurgens taking over the writing shed a lot of readers, well, maybe this wasn’t such a smart idea?
Giffen’s story, set in the 1950s Cold War era, comes across like a lead balloon. There’s a lack of fun or lightheartedness, something that — even in the title’s most serious stories — has been a part of the current “Booster Gold” series. It’s a shame, too, because Giffen certainly understands Booster Gold; Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis rescued the character from limbo with their run on “Justice League” and I’d expected better. Instead it’s a story that ends up providing back story for a character that I suspect most newer readers don’t even know exists, and getting there just plods along.
Olliffe’s pencils feel jarring here, thanks to Jurgens having already penciled the prologue and epilogue. They’re not bad, but they come off a little stiff in places. The characters also have a certain sameness to each other; everyone has the same gaunt cheekbones that could cut through glass, for instance, and once you notice the similarities in faces it’s hard to not see it everywhere. There also should have been some coordination between Olliffe and Jurgens on the editorial level; having Rip Hunter start off in a jacket, t-shirt, and pants and then suddenly transition into a red-and-green superhero outfit is just painful. (I also have to admit that it was so strange to see Hunter in that outfit, that I had no idea who he was supposed to be for a couple of seconds.)
I normally enjoy reading “Booster Gold” and an issue like this just makes me cringe because I fear that more readers will drop the book in response. Now more than ever, “Booster Gold” needs fun, peppy stories that race you to the end of the issue and make you want to read more. This issue was anything but, and that’s a real shame. I know all the creators involved are normally a lot more entertaining than this.