Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Favorite Characters: The Greatest Hero You Never Heard Of

It's my 47th post, which also happens to be my favorite number. So I'll bypass my list of the Top 5 Great Apes to bring you a post about my favorite DC comics superhero. Booster Gold.
Michael J. Carter is always a delight to read about and I'm glad he has his own comic these days. Created by Dan Jurgens in the mid '8os, Booster embodies the most venial, greedy, self-serving qualities of that decade (and today). And yet... well, that's why I like the guy.
He appeared out of nowhere, all style, no substance, and instantly turned himself into a celebrity. Then, just as quickly, into a complete sell-out. The people of Metropolis jumped on the Booster Bandwagon and then quickly off again when they realized he was less a hero than a man out for fame, chicks and bucks.
Booster's big secret, known only to his robot, Skeets, is that he was not exactly a self-made man. He wasn't born with powers like the Kryptonian. He didn't hone himself or build his strengths like the Bat. Booster had everything it took to be a great hero, but that was only because he'd STOLEN it.
In the year 2462, Carter had been a twenty-year old failure working museum security. His shining Gotham City high school football career had tanked when he was caught betting on his own games. His future was looking like total crap... but his PAST, mind you... THAT was wide open.
Booster stole a museum time machine and headed for a history when no one would know his reputation. In the 'primitive and gullible' 20th century, his museum-piece costume and artificial powers would enable him to become a famous, and fabulously wealthy man. He even stole Skeets to be his stooge... er, sidekick.
In the Silver Age, that origin story would have made him a Green Lantern villain in 60 seconds.
And the morally upright Justice League DID see right through him. Superman even took his cape away, telling the bounder that he 'just wasn't ready'.
So Booster ended up in the B-grade Justice League later known as the Supperbuddies, with the other misfits, making a best friend in Ted "The Blue Beetle" Kord. Well, best friend and dubious partner in various get-rich quick schemes.
With Skeets forever urging caution and propriety, and Booster forever ignoring him, it was a swell time for all. And even if they never got rich, they never ran out of Oreos.
And then most of the Supperbuddies died. Especially Ted. (Poor bastard!)
Booster's sometimes almost creepily literal whoring himself out hadn't made him enough cash to save his pal's life. For once Booster's complete lack of knowledge about history wasn't even a little bit funny. He dragged himself home to the future in despair.
Then, over the last few years, he began using time travel for good.
He's even saved the universe a time or two, and most importantly: he doesn't insist on taking credit for it. Much.
The world at large thinks Booster Gold is still the toothpaste-selling, car-hawking, soda-poster smile-with-a-tan jerk he always was, and only a select few know the truth. He battles evil throughout the timestream, intervening in historical DC events, becoming the hero he always pretended to be. Perhaps the change in Michael is another victory for Ted Kord, who has racked up rather a lot of them posthumously.
Maybe Booster's sense of greed and entitlement will never go away completely. It certainly makes it easy to relate to him. But there's plenty to admire, too. Loyalty, spirit, an easy smile, periodic self-sacrifice (especially if there's a cute girl involved), and MUCH less cowardice than one might imagine.
Here's to everything the future holds for Booster Gold... everything that isn't nailed down.

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