DC FLASHBACK: Booster Gold

Booster Gold.

Those are two words I never thought I would happily pen at the top of an article. You see, while the world is full of Booster Gold fans, "Formerly Known as the Justice League" or Super Buddies fans, and even Booster/Blue Beetle slash fiction fans, you couldn't count me among any of them. It wasn't like I was lining a birdcage with mint copies of "Booster Gold" #1 or anything; it's just that the character made me turn my nose up in comic book snobbery. Booster Gold was to me what professional wrestling is to the tea and crumpets crowd: It was lowbrow.

Then "52" came along and DC killed Booster Gold. I was happy to see him go. I reveled in the pain and anguish of Booster Gold fans and gleefully read every enraged fan's demand for Dan DiDio's head.

Then something happened. Booster came back. Booster saved the whole freaking multiverse. And Booster Gold -- unbelievably -- became the kind of hero I could respect.

This August, Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and Dan Jurgens restart the adventures of Booster Gold, time traveling hero, in "The All-New Booster Gold" #1. In anticipation of this series, CBR News conducted an extensive and candid interview with Johns, Katz and Jurgens, and we now travel into the past of Booster Gold, which begins in the future.

Booster Gold first appeared in "Boo$ter Gold" #1 (February 1986). Michael Jon Carter was (or will be) a college football player from the 25th century with the nickname of "Booster." Carter was banned from playing after he was caught betting on his own games. In a truly crushing move, Booster took a job as a night watchman for the Metropolis Museum. During his long hours at work, Booster began to study the exhibits about the metahuman community of the 20th century.

Enter Skeets, a security robot with a subservient but decidedly quirky personality. Skeets helped Carter pilfer a number of items from the museum, among them a time-displaced Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring and Brainiac 5's force-field belt. Booster and Skeets locate Time Master Rip Hunter's time machine and use it to travel to the 20th century, where Booster is intent on creating a business based around himself and his costumed identity: Goldstar! Yep, Goldstar.

After Booster saves the President Reagan from the shape-shifting villain Chiller (who intended to kill and replace the president), the Prez mistakenly introduces Booster to the world as "Booster Gold."

(Interestingly, the name Goldstar would later be taken by Booster's sister Michelle. Goldstar died shortly after appearing, leaving the happy-go-lucky Booster devastated. Ernest Widdle, a superhero parody in the pages of the '90s "Lobo" ongoing series also used the name Goldstar.)

Booster settled in Metropolis, and with the popularity garnered by saving the President, set about signing commercial and movie deals. All of Carter's attempts at self-promotion paid off, and he accumulated a small fortune. Using the money, Booster formed Goldstar, Inc. and hired a talent agent named Dirk Davis. During the 1988 DC Comics "Millennium" crossover event (in which the Earth was infiltrated by perennial Green Lantern foes the Manhunters), it was revealed that Davis was a Manhunter in disguise and had left Booster bankrupt. The "Boo$ter Gold" series ended without fanfare in   issue #25 (February 1988), but, perhaps surprisingly, Booster's most popular adventures were only yet to come.

In 1987, Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis added Booster to the roster of their very popular and hugely irreverent "Justice League" series. Booster became a principle character and was quickly partnered with the Blue Beetle in a "Bob Hope and Bing Crosby" kind of way. The pair became best pals and set about a series of comedic adventures and moneymaking schemes including the creation of a vacation resort on Kooey Kooey Kooey, the living island. Later, Booster began to realize that he was being perceived as a buffoon and quit the Justice League to found his own team: The Conglomerate.

This new venture was more in keeping with Booster as we knew him: an avaricious shill. A superhero group with corporate funding, the Conglomerate included Echo, Gypsy, Maxi-Man, Praxis, Vapor and Reverb. Despite Booster's hunger to become rich and famous, his better nature (and that of his team) won out when he discovered that corporate sponsorship often conflicted with his aspirations of true heroism.

Those light-hearted halcyon days came to an end, and Booster's costume – the source of his powers-- underwent a number of changes. One suit was destroyed by Doomsday, the monster who killed Superman, and another one was wrecked in a battle against the villain Devastator. Booster lost an arm and almost died in the battle. Blue Beetle came to the rescue and created a life support suit with a cybernetic limb for his friend. Unfortunately, this prevented Booster from being able to remove his costume, and he became a virtual prisoner in the armor.

Booster later joined Captain Atom's team Extreme Justice (which is about as '90s of a team name as you can get). It was during this period that Booster sought an escape from his armored prison, and made a deal with the villainous Monarch, who restored Booster's arm and rescued him from his confinement in the suit. Afterwards, Booster was able to construct new armor that was closer to his original in both appearance and powers. in the distance, a light shown on the horizon for Booster Gold, although it would cost him the lives of many of his friends to reach it.

After the disturbing events of 2004's "Identity Crisis," wherein his old Justice League pal Sue Dibny was murdered, Booster retired from superheroics. The retirement was not to last, as his best friend, Blue Beetle, drew Booster out of retirement to help discover who was manipulating his company, Kord Industries. Booster was hurt in an explosion at Blue Beetle's house, and we learned that Skeets had been dissected by the para-military group known as Checkmate. Meanwhile, in the "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" special, Blue Beetle discovered that Checkmate was run by former JL frontman Maxwell Lord.

Lord had formed Checkmate in an attempt to keep all metahumans under observation and control. Blue Beetle was captured and, after turning down Lord's offer to join Checkmate, was killed in a shocking scene in which Lord shot a bullet through Beetle's head. Booster only knew that his friend was missing, and assembled old members of the Justice League to find the Blue Beetle. The group encountered Maxwell Lord's OMAC robots and Booster was injured and much of his equipment destroyed. At the end of the "OMAC Project" miniseries, Booster said it was time for him to go home. What followed was the next series that would redefine the character of Booster Gold: "52".

In the ambitious weekly series, Booster began to notice that neither he nor the apparently rebuilt Skeets was able to accurately predict the future-- their past -- and as a result sought out Rip Hunter at his bunker in the desert. Booster found the bunker littered with weird notes written everywhere, especially prominent among them is the number 52. The most jarring of the many curious scribbles are pictures of Booster and Skeets with the words "his fault" and arrows pointing at the pair. Despite these ominous signs, Booster and Skeets continue to attempt to predict the future – to disastrous results.

Booster's reputation is destroyed by a string of bad decisions based on inaccurate information about the future, as well as his intense dislike of Metropolis's newest protector, a hero named Supernova. In an apparent act of jealous desperation, Booster tried to steal Supernova's thunder by containing a massive explosion and appeared to have been killed. Skeets, who by that time had begun to act stranger and stranger, lured Booster's ancestor, 21 st century man Daniel Carter, to Rip Hunter's bunker and trapped him there in a time loop.

Continuing to track Rip Hunter, Skeets followed the trail to Superman's arctic fortress and the bottled city of Kandor, where he discovered Supernova and Rip Hunter hiding. Supernova then revealed that he was Booster Gold all along, and battled his former sidekick. We learned that Rip Hunter traveled through time to save Booster at the moment of death, and also that the "his fault" message seen in Hunter's lab referred to Skeets, who was in fact the villainous Mr. Mind.

Mr. Mind, who had by then evolved into a gigantic moth-like monster, pursued Rip and Booster though the timestream. Booster stops in various points throughout history, gathering items he and Hunter will need to defeat Mr. Mind and save the newly discovered 52 Earths of the Multiverse.

As Rip and Booster witnessed the birth of the new Multiverse, Mr. Mind attempted to trap Booster and Rip in the Phantom Zone. Mr. Mind was thwarted by Daniel Carter, who was saved from his imprisonment by Rip and given the Supernova costume.

The enraged and starving Mr. Mind began to devour events and energies of the 52 earths, altering the history of each world he touched. Traveling to the end of the original "Crisis on Infinite Earths", Booster recovers the Blue Beetle scarab from a young Ted Kord (explaining why Kord is the only Blue Beetle not to have the Scarab), and uses the Scarab to trap Mr. Mind inside Skeets's shell and banish it, fittingly, into a time loop. Rip Hunter, being an all around swell guy, then downloaded Skeets' personality into a new Responsometer and reunited Booster with his loyal and uncorrupted robot companion.

When we started our journey with Booster, he was a shallow and materialistic man. Today, thanks to the events of "52," he is a hero of truly incredible proportions. Booster saved the universe, and in his upcoming series he'll be saving time itself. Fans have been promised a rare opportunity in the new series, a chance to see all of the DC timeline through the eyes of the hero who got a second chance: our hero, Booster Gold.


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