It’s Sunday Funday, where I chronicle something I did over the weekend that doesn’t have to do with toys. This weekend, I kicked back with the Booster Gold TPBs: “52 Pick Up” “Blue and Gold” and “Reality Lost.” See, I told you the last three features of the week would synch up! Yes, Booster returned with his new Ongoing book in 2007, inevitably reprinted in some collected editions a couple years later. The series picks up exactly where the events of “52” left off. While not a complete collection, the three trades offer a cohesive (well, as cohesive as you can get from time travel fiction) storyline from the first 20 issues. To the uninitiated, these volumes are a great introduction to Booster, while fleshing him out as a more sympathetic character and offering a great tribute to his undying loyalty to and friendship with Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. In some ways, this collection is almost as much about Kord and The Blue Beetles (plural) as it is Booster, but then the two have always been rather inseparable in my eyes.
In broad strokes, a good part of the ongoing story plays out as a DC inspired tribute to Quantum Leap (maybe with a dash of Forrest Gump since Booster manages to hit a lot of important moments in the history of the DC Universe). Booster bounces through the personal histories of various superheroes and villains in an attempt to set things right. He’s on hand to keep Green Lantern Sinestro from meeting up with Hal Jordan before his time. He has a hand in making sure Barry Allen gets zapped into becoming The Flash. He teams up with Jonah Hex to prevent a herd of teleported bison (!) from falling out of the sky (!!) and crushing the Doctor that would deliver the ancestor of Superman’s adopted Earth father (!!!) all while drunk off his ass. And he dodges some rather awkward questions from Ralph Dibny about his future with his wife. Even Booster’s own timeline isn’t immune to his good-natured meddling, as he eventually teams up with himself to defeat the mysterious villains. For me, the culmination of all these time travelling adventures is the harsh lesson Booster learns while repeatedly trying to save Barbara Gordon from the infamous paralyzing attack at the hands of The Joker. The Doctor would have referred to that as a “fixed point in time!”
And, of course, against all warnings and advice, he uses his time-traveling power to bring back his best friend, Ted Kord, to the land of the living. And therein lies the bulk of the second volume, “Blue and Gold.” It’s so great to see the two chums standing shoulder to shoulder against evil again, even if we suspect from the beginning that such a good thing can never last. And in an instance of truly tragic irony, before the third volume is complete we see Booster unknowingly save the life of the ancestor of Max Lord himself. Time travel… it’s a fickle bitch!
If the underlying theme of “Blue and Gold” is all about Ted, than a big part of the issues that make up “Reality Lost” gives Goldstar the spotlight, as more time meddling shenanigans bring Booster’s sister, Michelle, back to life and sees her teamed up with her brother. Much like “Blue and Gold” it’s bittersweet because we know this can’t end well. Still, it’s a fun ride along the way as Michelle gets to pose for Leonardo DaVinci, cosplay as Batgirl, and help steal the Batmobile with Booster dressed like Elvis. Epic hardly seems like the right word.
As the bulk of my comics are in storage, picking up these trades was a nice treat. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday evening than sitting out on the porch, enjoying a cigar and a couple belts of Jameson and getting lost in the pages. Granted, it’s only been a couple of years since I last read this run, but it’s still one of those books that I love to read even though I know what’s going to happen. The editors did a nice job cherry-picking the issues to present casual readers with a complete package, but as a Booster fan, I’d still recommend hitting all 20 issues if you can. Sure, the overall story is mostly time-travel cliches and nothing to write home about, but it’s the journey along the way that makes it so entertaining. These books feature solid art, pithy dialogue and they really do the character of Booster proud. It’s whimsical, silly, poignant, tragic, but I’ll concede that I was always more than a little disappointed that it ends with the status quo being reinstated. Still, any chance to see Booster and Ted Kord in action again is a great book for me.
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