And so Booster Gold continues to confound expectations by being… well… quite good, actually. Even those of us who followed him into his latest solo title through sheer character loyalty (from either Justice League International, 52 or both) surely didn’t see that one coming. But Johns and Katz have found a perfect niche for him – some twenty years after he was first introduced – as he travels through the history of the DC universe secretly righting continuity wrongs. A concept like that simply can’t help but be fun, and so it’s proving.
It helps, of course, when the storyline is as fanboy-pleasing as the current Blue and Gold, in which Booster has managed to rescue best friend Ted Kord from the head-shooty fate that awaited him at the end of Countdown to Infinite Crisis (god, how long ago does that feel now?). We know, of course, that due to all those laws about mucking-about-with-history, this can’t possibly last – but there’s a sneaking feeling that a workaround (the fact that no-one can know Ted is alive, and so his existence must remain as secret as Booster’s) might just be in place to keep him around. Still, though, the title of the book is Booster Gold – so unless they’re planning on renaming it, we may as well just enjoy it while it lasts.
This latest issue actually manages to tie in with the unloved Zero Hour crossover event from 1994 (hence the numbering – every major DC title had an issue #0 at the time to tie in WASN’T THAT CLEVER), which was the first attempt to tidy up the mess of Crisis on Infinite Earths by basically doing it all over again (sound familiar, much?) As Booster and the League Of Blue Beetles (don’t ask) encounter Zero Hour’s villains Parallax (Hal Jordan… don’t ask) and Extant (Hank “Hawk out of Hawk and Dove” Hall… no, really, don’t ask), though, what’s surprising is how much it’s played for laughs. The ridiculously pompous manner in which the overpowered Jordan spoke is quite deliberately replicated, and the villains’ plot shown to be the rather silly mess that it was. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that the writer of the original story, Dan Jurgens, just happens to be Booster Gold’s artist. And you’ve got to credit him – and DC – for at least recognising the somewhat-crapness of the story and being able to poke fun at themselves (even if DC are making exactly the same mistakes all over again with Countdown at the moment).
Speaking of Jurgens, his work here is about as good as it’s been at any point since his mid-90s heyday. Perhaps it’s working with material so close to him (in addition to Zero Hour, he was Booster’s creator, and big loud time travel stories have always been his forte), perhaps it’s having an inker as solid as Rapmund. But there’s a solid consistency to the linework that complements his always-strong character design and storytelling.
The second half of the issue, with its trip into the future – or, rather, Booster’s past – feels a bit unnecessary, as a lot of the background is stuff we’ve already garnered through exposition in previous issues (and the one main new point that’s made, about Michael’s sister, is ruined somewhat by giving her the wrong colour hair); nevertheless, when it focuses on the Booster and Beetle team being reunited, and retains that crucial sense of fun, this is really quite enjoyable fluff.