Booster Gold #22 w/Blue Beetle Second Story Review

Ever since Johns and Katz left Booster Gold, my interest in this title has steadily declined. However, Jurgens seems to have got this title back on track with this current story arc. I am optimistic that Booster Gold #22 will be an entertaining read. Let’s ahead and hit this review for Booster Gold #22.

Creative Team
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils: Dan Jurgens
Inks: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Hi-Fi

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin “Moments ago” with the Black Beetle teleporting back to his secret base. Black Beetle informs his boss, a shadowy figure stationed at a computer, that there were complications with his mission. Black Beetle says that Booster Gold interceded on Batman’s behalf and since that was outside of the mission’s parameters, the Black Beetle withdrew.

The shadowy figure says that all they need to do is find another point in time that is malleable. A picture of Ravager (The original Grant Wilson flavor) brawling with the Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans appears on the computer screen. The shadowy figure says that this point in time is perfect. Black Beetle then teleports away. The shadowy figure says that if Black Beetle is successful in his mission then the shadowy figure should see immediate evidence of that success.

We slide to the present with Booster Gold and Skeets in the Batcave. Booster Gold was sent back to the Batcave by Rip Hunter to get the pictures that the Batman had of Booster Gold trying to save Batgirl over and over again. Evidently, now that Batman is dead, Rip was worried that one of Batman’s enemies would get their hands on the pictures and discover Booster’s secret.

We see Booster Gold stating that there are now two memorial cases for two dead Robins. Skeets answers that Dick never became Batman. That Dick Grayson was the first Robin to be killed. Skeets accesses the time stream records and says that Deathstroke and Ravager attacked the Teen Titans and killed Dick Grayson. Booster snorts that he thought Rip said that the past cannot be altered.

Suddenly, Rip Hunter appears in a time sphere. Rip answers that there are exceptions. Booster snidely comments that Rip’s “official” time travel rules are once again being broken. Rip says that this happened because a door of sorts was left open in the past. Rip explains that time did not need to be altered. It merely needed to be steered to a variable that existed at that time.

Evidently, when a variable has already been introduced then the past is no longer solidified time. That this is the case of another future that could have developed if Robin and the Teen Titans had died in the fight against Ravager. Rip says that he does not know who the Black Beetle is or how he does it, but that the Black Beetle has the tools to make this happen.

Rip, Booster and Skeets hop into the time sphere and slip into the time stream. Rip comments how the entire Teen Titans team was killed in the fight with Ravager. Rip says that this has caused chaos in the time stream. We see things like Batman with Batgirl (Barbara Gordon flavor) and Sinestro, instead of Hal Jordan, as a member of the JLA. Rip then heads them to the point in time where the Teen Titans re-formed.

We see the time sphere arrive at STAR Labs. Booster and Skeets exit the time sphere. Booster’s task is to prevent Ravager from attacking the Teen Titans. Rip then heads on to the Vanishing Point to find out why the Black Beetle was there.

We slide inside of STAR Labs where Cyborg is angry with his father for turning him into a freak. Ravager then busts onto the scene and attacks Cyborg. Booster and Skeets then appear on the scene. Booster pretends that he is a hi-tech STAR Labs security guard. The two heroes then start brawling with Ravager.

During the fight, Skeets informs Booster that Ravager is Grant Wilson, the son of Wade Wilson, Deathstroke the Terminator. Booster and Cyborg end up taking down Ravager. Suddenly, Deathstroke and the Black Beetle appear on the scene. Black Beetle blasts our heroes with a power dampener ray that robs them of their abilities.

Deathstroke grabs Ravager. Black Beetle is about to kill Booster and Cyborg when Skeets uses his own power scrambler to temporarily scramble the Black Beetle’s armor. Black Beetle and Deathstroke, carrying Ravager, then make a quick exit.

Skeets says that he can track the villains. Cyborg says that he needs to get back to the Teen Titans. Booster then volunteers to come along to help Cyborg. Cyborg readily accepts the additional firepower that Booster brings to the table. We cut to Booster and Cyborg arriving at the mansion where the Teen Titans are staying.

Skeets says that Ravager is supposed to attack the Titans. During the battle, Ravager’s powers will burn up his body from the inside out and end up killing him. Raven will use her powers to make the dying Ravager think that he had defeated and killed all of the Titans. Booster comments that the vision of the dead Titans must be the variable that Rip mentioned.

Booster and Cyborg enter the mansion. Booster then sees Dick, Wally, Gar, Donna and Kory in their bathing suits hanging out by the pool. Booster is stunned silent by the smoking hot Kory in her bikini. Donna asks if Booster has any additional information to what Cyborg has told them or if Booster is just going to stand there and drool. Booster mutters that Donna is worse than Diana. Booster then says that the Titans are about to be attacked and should get ready to battle.

We cut to the Vanishing Point. Rip is searching around to find out why Black Beetle was snooping around the Vanishing Point. Rip finds that Black Beetle placed a system tap on the main computer to transmit the Vanishing Point’s information elsewhere. Rip wonders who would have such intellect to pull this off. Suddenly, the system tap explodes and takes down Rip.

We cut back to Ravager arriving at the mansion and getting ready to attack the Titans. The Titans tells Ravager that he is outnumbered 7-to-1 and for him to surrender. Suddenly, Deathstroke the Terminator and Black Beetle arrive on the scene. Deathstroke says that the odds are now in favor of the villains. The three villains then attack Booster and the Titans.

During the fight, Booster asks Black Beetle why he wants to kill the Titans. Black Beetle says that he only wants to kill the JLA. And that there is no better way to neuter the JLA then by its driving force and its ultimate tactician.

Black Beetle then infuses Ravager with enough chronal energy to halt Ravager’s powers from getting out of control and killing him. Ravager, Deathstroke and Black Beetle proceed to kill all of the Titans. The villains then leave the scene victorious. We see Booster floating face down in the pool. End of story.

Creative Team
Writer: Matthew Sturges
Pencils: Mike Norton
Inks: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Guy Major

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Blue Beetle battling a horde of killer robots called Unimates. The Unimates proceed to beat up on Blue Beetle. We then cut over to the prison where Dr. Alan von Nuemann, the creator of the Unimates, is being held. The Unimates grab Dr. von Nuemann and break him out of the prison. We see the Unimates flying Nuemann to his daughter’s lair. Nuemann’s daughter, Maria, pleads for her father to help her. Maria is crying and asks for her father to “make it stop.”

We zip back to Blue Beetle asking the scarab for the best way to stop the Unimates. The scarab replies that small tactical nukes are the best option. Blue Beetle yells “No!” and reminds the scarab that he is never going to agree with any plan that includes any human deaths. Blue Beetle thinks about how ever since the scarab was “re-booted” that it has been somewhat blood-thirsty.

Blue Beetle asks the scarab how the Unimates are targeting him. The scarab answers that the Unimates are focusing in on Blue Beetle’s electromagnetic and heat signatures. Blue Beetle asks if the scarab can take advantage of that and use it against the Unimates. Suddenly, Beetle’s armor morphs into a giant disk that blasts the Unimates. The disk “paints” Blue Beetles electromagnetic and heat signature on all of the Unimates. Therefore, the Unimates leave Blue Beetle alone and begin to attack each other.

Blue Beetle lands on the ground and changes back into his civilian clothes. Jamie stands next to his friend, Paco, and the two of them watch the Unimates destroy each other. During the battle, Jamie’s school gets destroyed. Again.

We cut to that night at Jamie’s house. Jamie’s mom tells Jamie, Paco and Brenda that school will not be cancelled. That they will be holding school in some leftover FEMA trailers. Jamie’s mom also says that the school has issued a public statement asking Blue Beetle to conduct his fights at some other location.

Brenda then mentions that she hopped online and was able to locate Maria Nuemann. That Maria is a professor at EPSU. Paco says that he has the “beetlemobile” gassed and read to go and that they should pay Maria a visit. Jamie says that he is not allowed out past nine o’clock on a school night unless something is actually attacking the city. Brenda then says that she has to study for a mid-term exam that she has been looking forward to taking.

Paco snipes that Brenda is weird and is the only person who looks forward to school and tests. Brenda then calls Paco a lazy and insensitive jerk. Jamie then asks his friends what is wrong with the two of them. Paco and Brenda sheepishly reply “Nothing.”

We zip forward to Paco arriving at Maria’s home. Paco knocks on the door and is greeted by Maria pointing a gun at his face. Maria leads Paco to her lab. There we see Dr. von Nuemann tied up. Nuemann says that Maria has gone too far. Maria yells for her father to show her what she wants. Maria tells her father to tell her how to make the pain go away.

We shift to Jamie being woken up by Brenda’s cell phone call. Evidently, Jamie’s scarab armor can allow him to receive cell phone calls directly into his head. His armor also lets him track down anyone who he has ever physically touched. Brenda tells Jamie that Paco is missing. Jamie armors up and goes and gets Brenda. Jamie then tracks down Paco’s location.

Along the way to Maria’s house, Jamie asks Brenda what is going on between her and Paco. Brenda admits that Paco bought her flowers and told her that he loves her. Brenda’s response was to laugh in Paco’s face.

Blue Beetle and Brenda then land at Maria’s house. Maria comes running out of her house and asks what Blue Beetle is doing here. Blue Beetle tells Maria to calm down. We see Maria’s arms morph into giant robot arms. Maria yells “Get away from me!” and punches Blue Beetle. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Booster Gold #22 was an enjoyable read. Jurgens delivers an entertaining story that is straight forward super hero fun. Booster Gold #22 is a quickly paced read that never drags. This issue presents a pleasant mix of dialogue heavy scenes and action packed scenes. And, to be sure, there is plenty of action in this issue.

This story arc has been a nice rebound story for this title. Jurgens continues to turn in a well plotted issue with this story arc. This issue moves forward with a purpose. I had problems with the plotting on the previous story arc, but this story arc is tight and focused. Jurgens has two main plotlines running at the same time. The first is Rip Hunter’s mission to discover what the Black Beetle is up to and who he is working for. The second is Booster’s goal to save Dick Grayson from getting killed by the Black Beetle.

Sprinkled into these two main plotlines are many little mysteries that pique the reader’s curiosity. And these little mysteries are the charm of this title. The reader simply never knows what is going to happen next on this title. And just about anything at all is possible. And that is to be expected from a title that is based on time travel and alternate realities. When done right, this enables Booster Gold to be such a fun read.

Part of what makes Booster Gold so much fun is that the reader gets to revisit various classic moments in the history of the DCU. The fact that I am a continuity buff means that this aspect of Booster Gold really appeals to me. I loved seeing the Wolfman/Perez Titans once again. The New Teen Titans #2 was published in 1980 and is an excellent issue and worth checking out if you have never read it before.

The New Teen Titans #2 is a classic Titans tale that plays an incredibly important role in Titans’ continuity. This issue marked the first appearance of the ultimate Titans villain: Deathstroke the Terminator. The New Teen Titans #2 sets the foundation for the long running feud between Deathstroke the Terminator and the Teen Titans. That issue was also the inspiration for the new Ravager in Rose Wilson that we currently have running around the DCU.

The Black Beetle’s mission to eliminate the Batman in order to attain his ultimate goal of eliminating the JLA is a good basis for this story arc. I dig the Black Beetle. He makes for a fine arch nemesis for Booster Gold. And the fact that the man carrying on the mantle of Booster’s closest friend, Ted Kord, is Booster’s arch nemesis is a nice twist. I am curious to learn more about Black Beetle. I am also interested in discovering the identity of the shadowy figure that the Black Beetle works for.

Jurgens cranks out some solid dialogue. This issue has plenty of humorous lines, but this is not a “Baw-ha-ha!” story. The humor is properly played and fits well with the story and the characters. Jurgens also delivers quality character work with this issue. Obviously, Jurgens understands Booster’s character very well and knows exactly how to write Booster. I like the simmering tension that exists between Booster and Rip. And what is particularly enjoyable is that the tension is not forced, shallow or contrived just for the sake of having some necessary tension in the title. That is what you get with many titles. Not in Booster Gold.

Jurgens has done an excellent job of methodically building the foundation and reasons for the tension and friction between Booster and Rip. And the rift between these two men continues to grow in a logical fashion. I like that Jurgens is showing the reader how Rip’s “official” rules of time travel are continually getting bent.

Before now, Rip has maintained that the past is constructed of solidified time and cannot be changed. However, in this issue, the reader learns that solidified time in the past is malleable whenever there is a variable present. And the variable in this issue is the dream that Raven gave Ravager. This was a rather clever little twist by Jurgens.

What I particularly enjoy with all these exceptions to Rip’s “official” rules of time travel is that these exceptions serve to undermine the reader’s trust in Rip. Jurgens has succeeded in making Rip come across as untrustworthy. The reader cannot shake the feeling that Rip is only ever telling Booster the partial truth so that Booster only believes that Rip wants Booster to believe. What is particularly enjoyable is that while the reader is never too sure about Rip, it never gets to the point where the reader views Rip as an actual villain. Rip is a hero that simply comes across as shady.

Jurgens ends Booster Gold #22 with solid hook endings to both of the main plotlines in this issue. A bomb takes down Rip at the Vanishing Point. And we see Booster floating face down in a pool with dead Titans littered around the pool. Those two scenes served as enjoyable climactic hook endings.

Jurgens and Rapmund provide the reader with plenty of nice clean looking artwork. Jurgens is able to convey the story to the reader in a pleasant fashion. I continue to enjoy Jurgens’ classic super hero style of art.

Now, let’s talk about the Blue Beetle back-up story in this issue. I am a Ted Kord loyalist. Have no doubt about that. I love Charlton Comics characters and I am also a big fan of Steve Ditko. So, it follows that I was less than pleased when Rucka had Ted go out like a total bitch. And because I am opposed to the extremely uncreative process of replacing established white characters with new minority characters with the same name and powers I have held a serious grudge against Jamie.

And the odd thing is that Jamie Reyes is exactly what I have been begging Marvel and DC to give us. Hispanic super heroes. Mi hermanos are tough to find in comic books. Despite the growth in the Hispanic population, Hispanics continue to be under-represented in comics. Still, I would have much preferred that DC take the time and effort to create a new Hispanic super hero rather than take the lazy route and kill off an established hero in Ted Kord in order to achieve this goal.

It will be of no surprise that when it was announced that Booster Gold was going to get a $1.00 price hike in return for gaining a Blue Beetle back-up story that I was less than pleased. The last thing I wanted to do was pay an extra buck for Booster Gold in order to get the pleasure of reading about a character I had no interest in at all.

But, since I had no desire to drop Booster Gold, that made me a captive audience with the second story in Booster Gold featuring the new Blue Beetle. Therefore, I figured I would approach the Blue Beetle second stories with an open and honest mind. And you know what? The new Blue Beetle is pretty damn fun! Blue Beetle could be DC’s answer to Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man.

What is not to like about a super hero who cannot go investigating a case because his mom has saddled him with a nine o’clock curfew? And Jamie actually listens to his mother! Classic. This is exactly what makes Blue Beetle so fun and refreshing. Jamie is not the typical “rebellious” teen hero. And Jamie is not the stereotypical dark teen hero who has suffered massive personal loss and tragedies. Jamie is actually a fairly well adjusted kid who is a bit of a nerd. All of this actually makes Jamie an incredibly unique teen hero in the world of comics.

Blue Beetle sports a great supporting cast. We have Jamie’s two high school friends in Paco and Brenda. These two good friends also help Paco in his various adventures. And you have Jamie’s father, mother and little sister as well. Sturges whips up some nice chemistry between Jamie, Paco and Brenda. The squabbling between Brenda and Paco reminded me of my high school friends who ended up dating each other.

The Blue Beetle back-up story was a fun read. It was light and enjoyable. Sturges delivers some good dialogue. Jamie’s inner monologue in this story was fantastic. Sturges also displays a good sense of humor. Jamie’s witty banter was spot on and instantly endeared me to his character.

It is demanding on an author when they are limited to only ten pages per issue to tell their story. But, Sturges handled this shortened format in fine fashion. The back-up story was well paced. Sturges wastes no panel space at all and keeps the story moving along at a lively pace. Sturges makes sure that this story has a good amount of action with Blue Beetle battling the killer robots. Sturges ends the back-up story with a neat little hook ending as Maria surprisingly demonstrates metahuman abilities with her jacked up robot arms.

Sturges has done what I thought was impossible and made me a fan of Jamie Reyes. This back-up story was just pure good super hero fun. I am looking forward to the next installment of Blue Beetle’s adventure.

The Bad: Booster Gold #22 may not appeal to readers who dislike stories that revolve around time travel. This issue may also not appeal to readers who prefer darker and more violent titles. This issue may also not appeal that much to readers who prefer cerebral reads. Booster Gold is not a title that is trying to re-invent the genre. The main emphasis of both the main story of Booster Gold #22 and the Blue Beetle back-up story is more geared to fun than anything else.

Overall: Booster Gold #22 was an enjoyable read that provides the reader with plenty of straight-up super hero fun. I would recommend readers who enjoy time travel and classic super hero stories to get this issue. I would also recommend that readers who dig DC’s rich history to get this issue as well. And, to be sure, Teen Titans fans should give this issue a look given the role the Titans are playing in this story.
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Rokk

3 Comments

  1. The new Blue Beetle seems to have some very devoted fans out there. He seems to appeal to people who are also fans of Gail Simone's work, based on the blogs and forums I've read.

    I think I've said it before, but it feels like your attitude toward replacement heroes interferes with your ability to enjoy new characters. DC has a history of killing of characters and replacing them with legacies. I don't think they go around looking for white guys to replace with minorities; they've just decided that if they kill off any white characters, they should give serious thought to replacing them with non-whites. So it might help if you think that Ted Kord wasn't marked for death because he was white, but rather that he was marked for death because he had a fanbase (but not too large) and was prominent (but not too important) so that his loss would get a reaction while he had ties to Maxwell Lord so it would make sense story-wise.

    P.S. If you want to complain about a replacement Hispanic hero, you can always pick on Aquagirl II.

    P.P.S. Are those ten pages enough for you to dethrone Vibe from the title of "The greatest Hispanic super hero. Ever."?

  2. Rokk did you ever read the last arc of Roger's Blue Beetle? Really really good comics….

  3. Not to be one of those devoted fans, but… it's spelt Jaime.

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