Comic Book Review: Booster Gold #5

Booster Gold has been a wonderful read. Johns and Katz make for a great team and have quickly made Booster Gold one of DC’s strongest titles. And I think that Katz deserves a lot of credit for the success of this title. I know he isn’t the big name that Johns is, but Katz’s influence is obvious in the dialogue and the generally brighter feel to the story. Booster Gold #5 is sure to be another excellent read as we deal with one of my all time favorite Batman stories: The Killing Joke. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Booster Gold #5.

Creative Team
Writers: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Artists: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Batgirl (Barbara Gordon flavor) taking down the Scarecrow. Batgirl meets with Commissioner Gordon next to the bat signal. Gordon compliments Batgirl on a job well done. Batgirl thanks him and takes off. Batman steps out of the shadows. Gordon comments that Batgirl is almost as good as Batman. Batman responds that she will be better.

We cut to the present day with Booster Gold and Rip Hunter back at Rip’s time lab. We see more scribbles all over Rip’s two chalkboards. Rip tells Booster that their mission isn’t over even though they captured Jason, the time master wannabe going by the name Rex Hunter. That Booster needs to go back into time and save Barbara Gordon. That she wasn’t supposed to be paralyzed. Then once Booster returns they will go save Ted Kord.

Rip says that he is going to stay at the time lab. That he made modifications to Skeets and Booster’s uniform so he can send them directly into the time stream from the lab. Rip is going to stay and analyze the Justice League certificate to make sure it doesn’t’ transform into another death certificate after Booster rescues Batgirl. And Rip is going to interrogate Jason about who he has been working for.

Rip then sends Booster and Skeets into the time stream. Rip then tells Jason that he is going to torture him until Jason gives him the answers he wants. Rip boasts that he has the entire timeline at his disposal at his time lab. That his computers were designed by Brainiac 5. Then Rip shows off his collection of torture tools from the Marquis de Sade.

We shift to Booster Gold and Skeets in the past in Gotham City at the carnival where the Joker is hiding out. Booster is ambushed by Joker’s henchmen and is injected with a poison that paralyzes him. Booster is then knocked out by Joker.

We see the new Blue Beetle with some guy named Mr. Smith at a Lucha Libre fight. Suddenly, a Blue Beetle from the future appears and says that Jamie is needed. The two then teleport away from the scene.

We zip back to the past where Joker is questioning Booster Gold. Booster refuses to answer any of his questions about who sent him. Joker then knocks out Booster once more.

We hop back to the present to Rip Hunter’s time lab. Jason refuses to answer any of Rip’s questions about who he has been working for. Suddenly, Jason screams in pain as chronal energy consumes him and then Jason dissipates into nothingness. Rip comments that Jason never followed the Time Master code and always had to brag. That Jason made the greatest mistake he could have made which was told whoever he was working for what his real name was.

We cut to the past with Per Degaton, Ultra-Humanite and Despero standing next to Jason’s crib when he was a baby. Per Degaton kills the baby Jason. The villains comment that it was a shame to lose a soldier as valuable as Jason so early into the war. The villains agree to go and retrieve Supernova immediately. That their army continues to grow in their ageless march to victory.

We shift back to the past with Booster Gold escaping from the carnival where Joker left him captive. We see Joker outside of Barbara Gordon’s apartment. Booster races toward the apartment hoping that he is not too late. We see Joker knock on the apartment door. Barbara answers and the Joker shoots her in the stomach. Booster then appears on the scene just a couple of seconds too late.

Booster takes out Joker’s henchmen. Booster and Joker then lock horns. During the fight, Joker grabs Skeets and uses him to beat Booster to a bloody pulp. Joker pulls out his gun, but before he can shoot Booster, Booster and Skeets both disappear.

We see Booster waking up in a hospital bed in the sick bay of Rip’s time lab. Booster immediately demands that Rip send him back in time again. Rip pleads that Booster lost a lot of blood and took a real beating. Booster screams for Rip to send him back now.

We see Booster back in time trying to stop the Joker and failing again. Booster tells Rip to send him back. We see Booster failing to stop the Joker a third time. Booster then tells Rip to send him back again. We see Booster failing to stop the Joker for a fourth time. Each time Booster sustains more injuries.

Broken and beaten Booster tells Rip to send him back in time once more. Rip tells Booster that this had gone on far enough. That Rip was trying to teach Booster to make him understand. That the Joker is always going to win. That they can’t change it and never could. That Jason and Supernova had nothing to do with what happened to Barbara Gordon. That there is no abnormal wormhole. That it is solidified time. Just like the death of Ted Kord.

That the Joker is always going to shoot Barbara Gordon. That she was destined to become Oracle. That Booster would only die trying to save Barbara. Rip then apologizes to Booster.

Booster is pissed off and screams at Rip that Rip lied to him. That Rip made him watch that maniac shoot Barbara over and over again and now he says he is sorry? Booster tells Rip “Screw sorry and screw you.” Rip counters that Ted Kord is dead and that Booster needs to move on.

Booster agrees that he has to move on. That Booster is leaving. That he has been helping Rip on his mission because of the promise that they would save Ted Kord. Booster says that Rip has betrayed him.

Booster hugs Skeets and begins to cry. Booster says that all he wanted was his best friend back. That’s all. Suddenly, three Blue Beetles appear in the time lab. We see the Blue Beetle from the future, the current Blue Beetle and the original Blue Beetle. The future Blue Beetle says that despite the so-called “rules” of time travel put in place by Rip Hunter that Ted Kord can and must be saved. That the very future of space-time itself depends on it. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Booster Gold #5 was another strong read. Johns and Katz continue to impress me with their quality work on this title. This issue was a wonderfully paced issue. Johns and Katz manage to give the reader the perfect blend of action and drama. The issue steadily builds in intensity as we arrive at a rather powerful and poignant ending.

Booster Gold continues to be a well plotted title. I have to give credit to Johns for the excellent plotting given that few writers can rival him in terms of being able to plot large story arcs with detailed plotlines.

And I’ll give Katz credit for the strong dialogue that we get in Booster Gold #5. The dialogue has been such a joy to read in every issue. Katz brings a lighter and funnier tone than what we normally get with Johns. Katz has managed to create unique voices for Booster, Rip and Skeets. The three main characters are all well developed with their own distinct personalities. Katz also manages to create some entertaining chemistry between these three characters. This also leads for some enjoyable witty banter.

Johns and Katz continue to do an excellent job with the maturation process of Booster’s character. Booster continues to grow and blossom into such a delightfully complex and heroic character. It is great to see what was once a shallow and superficial character evolve into one of the more interesting characters in the DCU.

Booster hasn’t always displayed the qualities of a real hero throughout his checkered past. That certainly isn’t the case anymore. It is great to see Booster displaying the heart of a true hero. Johns and Katz really hammer that point home with Booster’s bulldoggish determination to save Barbara Gordon no matter what. His willingness to die trying to save Barbara and his single minded belief that he can change the past if only he tries hard enough was impressive. A hero never gives up and there is certainly no quit in Booster.

I loved the use of The Killing Joke in this issue. I thought the mission of saving Batgirl actually turning out to be a lesson in how time works was a cool twist. Certainly, I was glad that Booster failed in his mission. I never liked Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. However, Barbara Gordon as Oracle is fantastic. Batgirl is nothing but a boring unoriginal derivative character. Just an example of a writer being lazy when creating a character. On the other hand, Oracle is a unique and interesting character. Oracle is a great example of a writer actually putting forth some effort and energy in creating a character.

This lesson was certainly some very tough love on the part of Rip Hunter. And Booster’s outrage upon learning that it was all just an effort by Rip to prove a point about solidified time was certainly understandable and justified. Booster’s rage at being used in such a fashion just to prove a point showed the reader the passion inside Booster’s heart.

And this set up what was a powerful and emotional ending. The scene with Booster hugging Skeets and crying that all he wanted was his best friend back was quite touching. Johns and Katz do a great job showing the depth of Booster’s personality. We usually see Booster’s funnier and more positive side. However, in this issue, we get a glimpse of Booster’s rage, passion and sorrow.

Booster’s undying devotion to his best friend, Ted Kord, is moving. Most readers can relate to Booster’s sense of loss with Ted’s death. And most readers have probably had that desire and wish that they could undo the death of a loved one.

However, Katz and Johns don’t leave the reader on a down note. Instead they drop a huge bomb on the reader with the sudden appearance of the original Blue Beetle, the current Blue Beetle and the Blue Beetle from the future. And we learn that Rip Hunter’s rules about solidified time aren’t as ironclad as Rip claims that they are. That in fact, Ted Kord can be saved and, in fact, must be saved since the future of the space time continuum depends on it. Now that is how you deliver a dramatic ending that immediately hooks the reader into wanting the come back for more.

Katz and Johns also dropped a bomb on the reader with the revelation of who Jason and Supernova were working for. Their bosses are none other than Ultra-Humanite, Per Degaton and Despero. We haven’t seen them since Justice League of America #9 during the Lightning Saga. I dig all three villains and I can’t wait to learn more about what these bad men are plotting.

Now, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Booster Gold #5 was the return of Rip’s chalkboard. This was one of my favorite literary tools from 52. There is always plenty of interesting little tidbits of goodness on Rip’s chalkboard. I suck at prognosticating the future, but I’ll take a quick stab at what was written on the chalkboard.

On the chalkboard we see “The ghost detectives have it all.” That must be a reference to Ralph and Sue Dibny. “No Ray Palmer = Disaster.” That must be a reference to Ray’s key in Countdown. “Lightning Saga(s) strike twice?” I guess this means that the Pre-Crisis Legion of Super Heroes will be making another return to our present time. We know that Brainiac 5 was trying to use the Speed Force for some purpose. We got the return of Wally West with the last Lightning Saga. Could we be getting the return of Barry Allen with the second Lightning Saga? “Death of the Supermen.” Could that be a reference to Superman-Prime and the Kingdom Come Superman? “Who does Supernova work for?” We learned the answer to that question with this issue.

Then we have the cryptic statements that are a mystery to me. Those include: “Who controls the Wildebeast society?” “The sun devils will save us all.” “3000+8.” “Who will escape the Book of Destiny?” “Steve is watching.” “No trophy = Stephanie.” “Gog is dead. The age of Gog is upon us.” “The Vigilante knows the traitor, the League does not.”

Jurgens and Rapmund serve up plenty of nice artwork. Jurgens’ clean style is a good match for this title.

The Bad: I found the torture scene where Rip breaks out the torture tools from the Marquis de Sade to be too over the top. I know Rip isn’t shy about doing whatever it takes to protect the time stream, but this seemed just too gruesome and evil for Rip. This had to be Johns’ idea.

Overall: Booster Gold #5 was another excellent read. Johns and Katz continue to make Booster Gold one of the stronger reads currently on the market. I strongly recommend that you give this title a try. It is certainly worth the cover price. I will admit that to truly enjoy this title to its fullest potential, that the reader needs a solid knowledge of the history of the DCU. Having said that, I do think that Johns and Katz give enough back ground information to make this title an enjoyable reader for readers with a limited knowledge of the history of the DCU.

4 Comments

  1. The “The Vigilante knows the traitor, the League does not” refers to the new ongoing Vigilante series, written by Marv Wolfman. Michael Siglain (editor for the series) comments on
    Newsarama:

    The Vigilante comes across a murder that hits just a little too close to home for him, and when he tries to get even with people responsible he learns an even bigger secret: there is a traitor in the DCU. It appears that a well-known hero has been supplying the underworld with information and weaponry, and it’s up to the Vigilante to find the traitor and stop him—or her—by any means necessary.

    That’s all!

    PS: Nice job on this site guys, keep going!

  2. “The sun devils will save us all.”

    The Sun Devils are an early Dan Jurgens creation from the mid-80s.

    “3000+8.”

    Seems Legion-related, given the timeline (8 years since Clark last saw them, a reference to the pre-Crisis Legion?).

    “Who will escape the Book of Destiny?”

    Ongoing “Brave and the Bold” plotline, where the Challengers are the only ones not in it.

    “Steve is watching.”

    Online speculation suggests this is probably a reference to former DC editor Steve Wacker, now running the Spider-books at Marvel.

    “No trophy = Stephanie.”

    Stephanie Brown, the lack of trophy being the lack of a memorial in the Batcave, cause of consistent fan complaints at the sexism of it (and the whole handling of her death). So something’s up with her.

    Another strong issue of the series. I’m glad they finally explained what was going on with those villains in “The Lightning Saga” (although, if that story is confined to this book, then, much like Johns’ Legion story, the use of JLA/JSA as a launch-pad for stories in unrelated books is kind of annoying, since that one page in JLA will never be explained to anyone who doesn’t read this series). I especially liked the demonstration of someone being whacked in the cradle, as we’re perennially told Booster is in danger of.

  3. Booster Gold is another series you have convinced me to pick up (in trades for me though), along with X-factor, and JSA. Because of that, I must skip your reviews of those series, (to avoid spoilers.), which pains me, as any review is almost always entertaining here.

    Speaking of entertaining reviews, I cannot wait for your review of Ghost Rider 18, (which supposedly is the arc that Way wanted to do in the first place, but editorial made him wait and do filler until now bc of the movie.)

  4. I gotta assume the “age of Gog” bit is a reference to Magog, the villain of _Kingdom Come_. The fact that the “age of Gog is upon us” seems to tie in to all the moves DC’s been making to bring the _Kingdom Come_ universe into the main one, or to imply that KC is the future of the main DCU, or something. I’m only a casual DC reader, so I’m not really up on all the ins and outs (and I found the issue of Justice Society with KC Superman totally incomprehensible). But that’s my two cents.

    _Kessel_

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