SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Heroes in Crisis #9 by Tom King, Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
When Booster Gold made his DC Rebirth debut in Action Comics, he appeared to be the usual egotistical but level-headed time-policing hero longtime fans had come to adore. But when he next appeared in Batman, he seemed oddly off, stumbling his way through a horrific reality of his own careless making. And he was no better off come Heroes in Crisis – in fact, the superhero recovery facility known as Sanctuary seemed to be exactly what he needed to fix his broken state.
Instead, he was faced with the Sanctuary massacre – one that Booster himself was a prime suspect in committing. The true killer revealed himself and Booster was instantly exonerated, but his state of mind was still fractured. He plays a key role in Tom King and Clay Mann's Heroes in Crisis #9, however -- the finale to the series -- and in that role, an odd statement by Booster just might begin to explain exactly what's been wrong with him.
Talk About A Bad Gift
Booster, Harley Quinn, Blue Beetle and Batgirl stage a time-travelling intervention to save Wally West from killing his future self – a unique scenario that's, safe to say, unlike any other, right? Not necessarily, according to Booster. He mentions the group's current encounter reminds him of his own birthday party, of all things, from the year before.
Specifically, he cites a "crappy gift" given to him by his robotic partner Skeets – one that he thought he "could go back and … " Booster's vague account ends there, so the full nature of Skeets' gift is never revealed, but it begs the question – what kind of present might have Skeets given to Booster?
Given the emotional trauma Booster seems to have suffered, it's a safe bet it wasn't a bottle of aftershave, and whatever Booster didn't like about it, it probably wasn't something that could just be taken back to Kohl's or Target. No, wherever Booster thought he "could go back" to, it wasn't Returns & Customer Service. Given that Booster is a time traveler, it probably wasn't even a matter of "where" to go back to at all -- it was probably actually "when."
Happy Birthday, Booster Gold
And no – Booster likely didn't go back in time just to put a gift back on the shelf and pick something else, either. Whatever the nature of Skeets' gift, it had to be something significant – something that would leave a mark on Booster. And something that Booster would want to take back – or undo.
Birthdays haven't been kind to Booster – his own father left him on his birthday when young Michael Carter was only a child. This abandonment left the Carter family saddled with a raft of gambling debts, and as an adult, Michael followed in his father's gambling footsteps. Illegal betting ended up putting Michael in jail in his pre-Booster Gold days.
That defining day led to a life of ruin until he turned things around and became a superhero. Still, Booster might never have found his birthday much to celebrate, thanks to that traumatic day. Skeets, though, might have thought he could change that, and make Booster's most recent birthday something special for a change.
Did Skeets perhaps track down Booster's father, and attempt some kind of reconciliation? If so, that would be a pretty bold move – as the villain Supernova, Jon Carter caused quite a bit of time-traveling trouble for the superhero community, including Booster himself. As a result, and with no great love for his estranged father, did Booster maybe "go back" – in time – and try to alter something in their history?
The Worst Gift of All
If that scenario sounds somewhat familiar, it's because Booster recently tried a similar trick in another King-scripted tale – to disastrous results. When his friend and colleague Bruce Wayne was engaged to be married, Booster believed there would be no better wedding present than the gift of life – namely, the lives of Bruce's parents'. Booster went back in time and saved Thomas and Martha Wayne from being shot in Crime Alley. But in doing so, he ushered in a hellish world – aka "Batpoint" - where Bruce never became Batman.
With the help of Batpoint's Bruce, Booster ultimately set things right. What remained unclear, though, is just why the once-cautious Booster would undertake such an ill-conceived scheme – and what put him in a state of mind to do such a thing in the first place.
The catalyst for all that just might have been Booster's recent birthday. If his "gift" from Skeets involved Booster somehow trying to set things right with his own father, then this might have been the impetus that inspired him to try and do something similar for Bruce. In doing so, though, did Booster also change himself, like he did Bruce Wayne? Did Booster perhaps travel into his own past, and convince his father not to abandon the family, for instance? Or did some other traumatic encounter ensue, one capable of altering Booster's state of mind?
Maybe This Isn't "Our" Booster Gold
Just as having a father growing up impacted Batpoint's Bruce Wayne in an ultimately negative way, did the same thing possibly happen to Booster? In Booster's 25th-century past, did emotionally-driven interference with his own history create a divergent "Boosterpoint" in the future? And is the broken Booster Gold readers saw in Heroes in Crisis and Batman perhaps a Booster from this alternate reality, resulting from his own meddling with time?
If Booster did in fact travel to his own past on his birthday and alter his own history, it would certainly explain why he was reminded of this episode while essentially doing the same thing to Wally. Especially when the outcomes are so similar – both heroes emerge broken from the change.
There are plenty of scenarios that could have altered Booster Gold for the worse, and Heroes in Crisis #9 just might have begun to reveal how. Sanctuary couldn't really help Wally, at least until time travel got involved. The same might be the case for Booster. And if that's the case, readers might get an eventual peek at what a "Boosterpoint" reality just might look like.