Most DC readers only know Booster Gold because Keith Giffen
and J.M. DeMatteis made him a major player in their hilarious
late-1980s Justice League series. Okay, maybe "major
player" isn't the right phrase, but he and Blue Beetle were
two of the funniest characters in comics at that time.
Right now Booster Gold is back on top, playing an important
role in DC's Infinite Crisis and 52 mega-events.
He even starred in a whole episode of Justice League Unlimited.
So how does a lame character with a silly name get so important?
It almost certainly wasn't his floating robot partner, Skeets.
In Skeets' defense, this robot sidekick was actually somewhat
endearing, unlike the super-annoying Herbie from the Fantastic
Four cartoon. In fact, I must admit that I was happy to
see Skeets again when Booster Gold pulled him out of mothballs
in a recent issue of one of the many DC crossover books.
So what led to Booster Gold's fame? His debut was not met with
incredible fanfare. I don't even remember why I picked up the
first issue. Dan Jurgens' art was solid, but what kind of name
is "Booster Gold"? What I do remember is that by the end of
the first issue I was hooked. Nowadays there are plenty of dark
heroes who display human weakness and foibles. In 1986, characters
like that were few and far between in superhero books.
Booster Gold was unique in that his first appearance revealed
a superhero cashing in on his fame. This was at a time when
endorsement deals for athletes were still few and far between.
Olympic medalists got their faces on Wheaties boxes, but not
every single athlete had his/her own shoe line or bobble-head
In any case, superheroes aren't athletes. They have a code
of honor, and accepting roles in cereal commercials wasn't in
the code in 1986. Yet in the first issue here was Booster Gold,
a superhero that fought supervillains like Blackguard and made
huge money doing it. In the days before The Dark Knight
turned comics dark, this was special. Unique. Interesting.
Also, despite his glamorous lifestyle and bright costume, Booster
Gold was a hero shrouded in mystery. For the first seven or
so issues we didn't learn who he really was or where he got
his powers. We did get clues, however. As a fan of the Legion
of Super Heroes, I remember being hooked after seeing that
Booster Gold wore a Legion Flight Ring. He also had a force
field — perhaps based on Brainiac 5's technology? I kept
on reading because I just had to find out.
Though the concept of Booster Gold as a corporate superhero
was interesting, the plots for the first few issues were not.
He fought lame and entirely forgettable villains. Eventually
things picked up as he encountered Superman for the first time.
Jurgens, who has told so many tales of the Man of Steel, did
a great job with Booster Gold, a Superman wanna-be, finally
meeting Superman. It was no surprise that Superman frowned on
Booster Gold's crass commercialism. Though I don't remember
the specifics of the story, I do remember the contrast between
Superman and Booster Gold. Superman is who we should all aspire
to be if we get super powers. Booster Gold is the fallible person
most of us would be more likely to become.
Eventually we learned that Booster Gold was a disgraced athlete
from the future who was banned from playing because he bet on
his own games. Eventually he became a janitor in a museum, where
he got his hands on technology including that of the Legion
of Super Heroes and Rip Hunter's time machine. Ever the opportunist,
he came back in time to make a name for himself.
Unfortunately he screwed up and got tongue-tied when telling
the president (yes, it was actually Ronald Reagan in the comic)
his name and got saddled with the moniker Booster Gold. I think
it was some time after the mystery was revealed that I stopped
reading the book.
Booster Gold was an interesting, new kind of character with
a mysterious background, but once that all wore off his stories
just didn't stand out as a must-buy monthly read.
Yet all these years later, Booster Gold is still a major figure
in the DCU, perhaps it is due to his partnership with Blue Beetle
and his hilarious days in the Justice League. Those do seem
to be the adventures for which he is best remembered. But maybe,
just maybe, it is because he debuted in that somewhat magical
year of comics, 1986.
here to return to the Comics of 1986.