SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #45 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, and John Livesay, on sale now.
As everyone now knows, Batman and Catwoman are getting married. With their nuptials pending, one question stands out: what kind of gifts do superheroes give each other? Batman #45, by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel and John Livesay, gives a rather unique and unexpected answer to that question, at least when it comes to Booster Gold.
Part one of "The Gift" features not only a very different Batman, but also a very different world around him, as Booster's "gift" to Bruce Wayne is one that has had very severe world-altering consequences. That gift? One that only a time-traveler could provide: Go back in time and save the lives of Bruce's parents.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Of course, that could only lead to a changed reality where Bruce would never have the motivation to become Batman, creating a void that also created tremendous and troubling possibilities for his foes. This "Batpoint" world was certainly not was Booster intended – why would a self-professed time master guardian of the timeline so flagrantly tamper with history? Especially so soon after the events of the recent "Booster Shot" arc in Action Comics, where Booster Gold proactively attempted to prevent Superman from doing the same?
There's not only a very different Batman in Batman – there's also a seemingly very different Booster Gold. In "Booster Shot," Booster took an active and responsible role in allowing Krypton to self-destruct in the past, with a reluctantly understanding Superman watching it happen. After "ensuring" that Kal-El's parents died as intended – the Mr. Oz revelation notwithstanding – why would Booster essentially do exactly the opposite for Bruce Wayne's parents?
Why Is Booster Gold Such a Jerk?
Booster Gold has mostly always been a jerk, but when last seen in Action Comics, at least he was a responsible jerk. Here, well, Booster is the epitome of epic jerkitude. Booster watches with immature fascination as a frequent colleague and ally under The Joker's influence commits suicide. And that's just how the issue begins. Pages later, he's making flatulence jokes that would make an eight-year-old proud. All the while, he's searching for Bruce, the recipient of his so-called gift, to help him fix the very timeline that he himself broke. Pretty jerky behavior all around.
Why is Booster acting so differently? Is this an atypical writing gaffe on King's part, badly mischaracterizing Dan Jurgens' creation, after Jurgens himself handled Booster with far more reverence? Is this a surprising lapse on the part of DC Comics editorial, letting two such disparate treatments of the character appear within a few months of each other? Or is there perhaps a more tangible, in-context reason for this seeming disconnect? There is one possibility – one that King's script seems to go out of its way to communicate.
Namely, that this Booster Gold is a younger incarnation of himself.