The TRUE Hero of Time
Alright, odds are you know who this guy is if you read comics or have an exposure to DC animated projects. Maybe you think he’s just the typical glory hogging doofus comedic relief character, maybe you were unfortunate enough to have only been exposed to him through the New 52 Justice League International and think he’s a generic leader man, but odds are, you don’t know exactly who Booster Gold is and why he’s so awesome. Well, let me spell it out for you right here, right now:
Booster Gold is a god damned hero, and he deserves some more respect.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that really needs to be said, but then, we wouldn’t have much of an article if that’s where I ended this, would we? So, with that in mind, we’re just gonna go ahead and jump into this one. Let’s fake an education in comics.
The Subject: Booster Gold
Secret Identity: Michael Jon Carter
Pop Culture Lifespan: 1986-2011, followed by the reboot timeline of 2011-today.
Raditude: Radder than the album Raditude, by Weezer
Appearances Outside Comics: He’s in pretty much every DC animated series worth a damn, namely, Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Justice League Action, as well as having a cameo in Legion of Super-Heroes. Also, he was in an episode of Smallville that you almost definitely didn’t watch.
Played by: Tom Everett Scott, Eric Martsolf, Diedrich Bater
Created by: Dan Jurgens
Best Books: Justice League International, Formerly Known as the Justice League, I Can’t Believe it’s Not the Justice League, Booster Gold (2007-2011)
Would Booster Gold Make a League of Legends Account and then, by Paying Blue Beetle to do it, Have its Rank Boosted up to Gold?: I mean… probably? That’s pretty bizarrely specific.
Who Can He Beat Up?: On a good day, just about any average person/thug/goon. As long as he’s staying focused and not having any equipment malfunctions, he can take most C-tier superheroes as well. Unfortunately for Booster, he can be kinda dumb, and that tends to ruin things for him.
When to Bring Him Up: If anyone ever tells you that nothing good came out of comics in the nineties, I give you permission to slap them with the nearest copy of I Can’t Believe it’s Not the Justice League.
The Golden Age
Mike was born in the far-off 25th century, the son of a troubled family in one of the shitty parts of Gotham, well known to be a perpetually shitty part of the world. His father walked out on the family when Michael and his twin sister, Michelle, were young, taking his gambling debts with him. Luckily for Mike, he managed to escape the slums with a football scholarship to Gotham University, where he went on to become a star quarterback. For a brief while, Mike had everything he could ever want: popularity, a relatively carefree life, purpose; everything a young man could ever want, except a father. Ironically, it was the return of Mike’s father into his life that would end up ruining this golden age in his life, as his deadbeat old man, still saddled with a crippling gambling addiction, coerced him to start throwing football games. Of course, Michael was caught and subsequently expelled, sending him down the path that would eventually lead to his becoming a superhero. Now employed as a security guard at the Metropolis Space Museum, Michael was left with a longing for his former standing, leading him to cook up a plan. With the help of Skeets, an unfortunately named security robot that he had befriended, Mike stole the costume of an ancient superhero, as well as several other artifacts from past eras of super heroism, including a flight ring from the Legion of Super Heroes (Which I want to say didn’t exist in the 25th century, but I honestly don’t know enough to say for certain) and a force-field belt designed by Brainiac 5. Then, using legendary time-cop Rip Hunter’s Time Sphere, Mike and Skeets send themselves back in time to the late 1980s, where they immediately begin shamelessly self-promoting themselves and creating corporations and fame-related pursuits around their crime fighting, a tendency which is the source of a whole bunch of friction between Mike and other superheroes. Interestingly, Mike wanted to be called Goldstar, thinking it would be a better superhero name and corporate branding, but being a big ol idiot sometimes, he got distracted while telling president Reagan his name, remembering his old football nickname, “Booster”, leading to the Gipper giving him his name.
Operating out of Metropolis as Booster Gold, Michael actually does pretty damn well for himself at the beginning, using the publicity gained from saving Ronnie Reagan from Chiller to gain a massive amount of advertising and movie deals, becoming a obscenely wealthy. Inspired by her brother’s success and heroism, Michelle eventually joins her brother in the past, fighting alongside him in a magnetically powered suit and using the name that Booster had wanted from the beginning, Goldstar. Unfortunately, Michelle meets an untimely end battling monsters from another dimension, a fairly common hazard of super heroism. Deeply affected by her death, Booster gathers up most of his fortune to found Goldstar Incorporated in her memory, a holding company. Unfortunately, it didn’t really do all that much beyond gain him more wealth, but y’know, still nice that he named it after her. Until, of course, he renamed it Booster Gold International, thereby effectively erasing her memorial from time, but eh, what are you gonna do. Booster goes on to hire Dirk Davis as an agent, fielding his business deals and helping him accrue even more fame and goodwill, until eventually, Dirk reveals himself as a Manhunter during the Millennium event, where it is revealed that Dirk had been embezzling funds in an attempt to blackmail Booster into doing the Manhunters’ bidding (Who, just to avoid confusion, are the human organization in this case, not the race of robots created by the Guardians of the Universe), but merely resulted in Booster becoming completely broke.
Now, most characters tend to just fade into obscurity when they get introduced in a solo series these days, and even back in the 80s, this was the case. However, Booster Gold was lucky enough to have drawn the eyes of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, creators at the forefront of a Justice League revival. Focusing on a bit more of a comedic tone while still handling serious threats and events, the creative team breathed fresh life into the brand, mainly by using lesser-known and newer characters. So Booster Gold found himself saved from the fate of characters such as Omega the Unknown and ascended to the A-list (Or at least, like, the really really high B-list. Wherever DCAU characters are, I guess.), a core member of the new Justice League International. While on this team, he was frequently partnered with Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle at the time (And forever in my heart), beginning one of the most famous and, frankly, best friendships in all comic history.
Together, the duo had all manner of shenanigans, usually based around harebrained money making schemes or time travel tomfoolery, including the design of Club JLI, a Justice League themed casino resort on the also unfortunately named living island Kooey Kooey Kooey. However, Booster, accustomed to at least some degree of respect and admiration from people, soon grew tired of life as comedic relief, eventually quitting the League and founding his own super team called the Conglomerate, essentially a corporate-funded Justice League. Of course, while a fascinating concept for stories, it really doesn’t work out that well in terms of being a super hero, leading to Booster eventually giving up and rejoining the League. The Conglomerate would reform a couple times while Booster was still a Leaguer, but being a big ol pile of corruption and corporate sponsors, it never really ended well. Things once again seemed to be looking up for Booster, which of course meant it was time for Doomsday (Who actually got named by Booster, interestingly) to come to Earth and ruin death in comic books for everybody. Booster tried to help repel the beast, however, being a regular-ass guy with decent future tech and a heart of gold, he was woefully unprepared to fight a screaming aggregation of murderous impulses and pointy rocks, and got his ass whupped and dumped in space, leaving him permanently injured and bereft of most of his technology. Luckily, Ted was able to cook up a suit that doubled as a life support system for is old pal, allowing him to continue a life as a hero. Oh, also it had a replacement arm for him, because, y’know, dismemberment is a surefire way to show off character growth.
The Justice League fell apart relatively soon after the death of Superman, leading Booster to join an offshoot of the League known as Extreme Justice, somewhat akin to X-Force in its relation to the League. While on the team, Booster makes a deal with Monarch, a bundle of awful continuity retcons in mortal form, in order to regain a healthy body, allowing Mike to remove his life support suit and return to a relatively normal life, wearing a new suit that had Skeets integrated into the design, allowing him to assist Booster in a more direct fashion, such as piloting the suit when Michael is knocked out or drunk or whatever. This was a pretty cool idea, but one that was basically abandoned after the dissolution of Extreme Justice in favor of a return to something more akin to Booster Gold’s classic costume.
The Event Current
Having ascended to some level of importance rapidly, Booster of course became a candidate for getting dragged into event comic clusterfucks, and being a time traveler, he was often a focal point for some kind of time-fuckery. Having briefly retired after the exercise in poor event writing called Identity Crisis, Booster was already in a fairly rough state, and got no better after being injured in an explosion at Kord labs and discovering that Skeets had been disassembled and pillaged for tech by the Checkmate organization. Over the rest of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis, fate continued to pour shit into Booster’s life, including the physical and mental crushing of Booster, the death of Ted Kord, the betrayal of Max Lord, the death of Rocket Red, and the severe injury of most of the other former members of the JLI. Awash with guilt and self-loathing after realizing that he might have been able to warn his friends if he had payed attention to historical records in his own time, a defeated Booster Gold returns to his own time, seemingly abandoning his life in the past. Of course, he returned almost immediately after during the events of Infinite Crisis, reappearing on the moon alongside a freshly repaired Skeets and a bundle of stolen historical records, which he uses to find Jaime Reyes, the (Again, at the time) new Blue Beetle, and takes him to Batman, stating that the new hero will be instrumental in Batman tracking down Brother Eye and effectively resolving most of the Crisis.
During 52, at Superboy’s memorial service, Booster discovers that Skeets is giving him incorrect historical data, and after a sizable panic attack, decides to head to Rip Hunter’s desert bunker, where he is confronted by an immeasurably dense amount of crazy time-notes that seem to indicate that Booster and Skeets are responsible for the complete and utter fuckedness of time. Soon after, Booster becomes jealous of Supernova, a new superhero whose very existence seems to consist of stealing Booster Gold’s thunder. Apparently dying in a half-cocked attempt to regain the limelight, Booster is indisposed while Skeets abducts his ancestor, Daniel Carter, in order to gain access to Rip Hunter’s bunker, where he strands Daniel upon seeing the same notes Booster saw. Meanwhile, Supernova and Rip Hunter meet up and exchange future shit in the Bottle City of Kandor (That city that Superman keeps in a jar in the Fortress of Solitude), where they are discovered by Skeets. Supernova reveals himself to actually be a future version of Booster, who collaborated with Rip to fake his death and travel back in time and create a rivalry with himself, which I’m sure there was a reason for, but I honestly think was just to screw with time. Booster and Skeets come to blows, for some reason, creating even more time fuckery when Booster retreats into the time stream. He spends a good amount of time just kind of popping in and out of various time periods, stealing missiles and various other super weapons from whoever he bumps into, ranting and raving about having to save the multiverse. Eventually, he returns to the present and lures Skeets to him, who is revealed to actually be Mister Mind in disguise, who has been using Skeets’ robotic husk as a cocoon to grow himself into a monster capable of devouring the multiverse, pretty much just to be a dick to every other reality imaginable. Booster, Rip, and Mister Mind have a big ol time-kerfuffle, ending up at the end of Infinite Crisis, where they all witness the rebirth of the 52 worlds in DC’s multiverse. Mister Mind just kinda vomits Phantom Zone gunk everywhere while Booster and Rip are rescued by Daniel, who has now co-opted the Supernova suit and identity. During the fight, Mister Mind eats a whole shitload of time and events in order to retcon the DCU a little bit, which is a way weirder retcon method than Superboy Prime punching time, and frankly, it’s a bit weird that no one really brings it up. After saving all realities with the help of the real Skeets, Booster travels to the day after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he takes the Scarab from Ted’s custody and fuses it with a whole bunch of techno-bullshit, trapping Mister Mind within it and flinging it into the time stream, which traps him in a loop of one of the worst moments of his life, for some reason.
When all is said and done, Skeets gets repaired with no memory of the past year, Rip goes back to floating through time, and Daniel continues a career as Supernova for about a week before getting bored and using the self-sustinance granted by the suit in order to marathon video games. Decidedly tired of being the timeline’s whipping boy, Booster reapplies for membership to the League. Unfortunately for Booster, Rip informs him that, surprising no one at all, time is pretty ruined from being gnawed on by Mister Mind, and that it needs his help. Even worse, a new Supernova appears after stealing the costume from Daniel, aided by Rex Hunter, who is for all intents and purposes identical to Rip, but evil. They have decided to, much like the heroes they oppose, fuck around with time until things just kind of work out in their favor, ideally erasing the Justice League from existence in service of their masters: Despero, the Ultra-Humanite, and Per Degaton. This leads Booster to a bit of a dilemma: see, in order to thwart their time-antics without being discovered and immediately obliterated by god-like beings, Booster needs to maintain a sufficiently shitty and forgettable reputation. Unfortunately for Booster and time itself, he really, really likes having an impressive reputation. Of course, being that the focus of the book this occurs in was having Booster finally grow up as a hero once and for all, he accepts Rip’s proposal to maintain his status as a time traveling shithead, on one condition: Booster can go back in time and save Ted Kord.
Naturally, Rip is less than pleased with the idea of altering the timeline even more, but Booster really doesn’t care, and teams up with three Blue Beetles to alter time. Booster then bails on Rip, siding with Ted and the other Beetles, while Rip gathers Booster’s ancestors and arms them with replicas of the Supernova and Booster Gold costumes. Unfortunately, after time solidifies following the prevention of Ted’s death, it is revealed that Max Lord’s OMACs have overrun Earth. Reuniting the JLI once more, Booster and Ted make a last stand to stop the OMACs, as well as the Time Stealers, a battle that culminates with Ted sacrificing himself to save the world from Black Beetle, effectively resetting history. Booster then travels to the 853rd century, where he competes with Peter Platinum, who is, effectively, a significantly douchier Booster Gold. Returning to the present and leaving Rip after an argument, it is revealed that Michael had been attempting to prove himself as a hero through various means, including attempting to go back in time to the events of the Killing Joke and prevent Barbara Gordon from being crippled, a fact discovered by Batman, who now views Booster as a friend and fellow hero. Empowered and encouraged by this, Booster strengthens his resolve and returns to Rip, determined to work past their differences and continue to protect time. Upon his arrival, Rip reveals that he had saved Booster’s sister Michelle from her own untimely death, reuniting the twins. Oh, also it turns out Rip is Booster’s kid from the future, but that honestly doesn’t come up all that much, considering.
The Blackest Night soon followed, which Booster spent almost the entirety of fighting a reanimated Ted Kord, securing Ted’s remains within a time sphere in order to prevent any further desecration. Booster and Jaime also begin to form their own sort of “Blue and Gold” partnership, however, the hopeful feeling is interrupted by the discovery that someone else had entered the warehouse Mike and Ted shared, which was only genetically coded to allow those two entry. Booster then joined the rest of the DCU running around doing menial cosmic bullshit during the Brightest Day, with Booster repairing his relationship with Michelle and learning that he was Rip’s father from an older version of himself. Oh, he also joined up with a big team of heroes to find and punish the newly resurrected Max Lord, only to fail completely and utterly in stopping the telepath from erasing all memory of himself from the world, with only Booster, Fire, Ice, and Captain Atom being the only people unaffected, for some reason. Lord becomes the focal point of Booster’s life up until Flashpoint, with Booster driven to catch Lord by not only all the man’s previous wrongdoings, but the fact that with Max out of everyone’s memories, everyone thinks Ted committed suicide.
Back From the Future
By acts of fate, the old JLI is thrown together once again, with legacy heroes replacing the dead original members. Booster finds this to be incredibly suspicious, believing it (Correctly, mind you) to be the work of Max Lord. Booster, now a much more mature person than when he first joined the JLI, has become the leader of the new team, which actually goes really well until Max shoots Jaime in the head. Understandably, this causes Booster to have a crisis of faith, which is quickly resolved by the League telling him how great of a job he’s been doing, as well as Jaime just kinda getting over his bullet wound. The team regroups, now joined by Batman and Power Girl, with the team coming to blows agains OMAC Prime while Booster faces off alone against Lord on his airship. The confrontation ends with Max undoing the global mind wipe, and Booster and Batman setting out to officially reform the JLI.
Of course, this never happens because it was time for Barry Allen to begin a legacy in destroying time lines. Booster and Skeets awaken in the Flashpoint timeline, being the only people on Earth who remember the original timeline and coming to blows with Doomsday, who is a secret government weapon employed against the Atlanteans in this universe. Booster rescues a woman named Alexandra Gianopolous, who turns out to have the ability to steal and duplicate the powers of metahumans, and tails Booster as he attempts to find Reverse Flash. Booster’s role in the event, unfortunately, ends before he can find RF and help restore time, with Alexandra sacrificing herself to save Booster from Atlantean armies and Booster being returned to his own time, discovering that Alexandra had been the one who broke into the warehouse, as well as Rip’s bunker, leaving Booster clues that would aid him during Flashpoint. Booster also loses most of his memories of Flashpoint, but that doesn’t really matter because he got shitcanned for the New 52 anyways.
Heading up the New 52’s JLI, a book that I have recurrently mentioned as one of the most forgettable things ever written (So forgettable, in fact, that basically nothing in it is even canon, being contradicted by bigger books later). In this incarnation, Booster is still a glory hog, albeit toned down much, much more, to the point of acting more like Cyclops from the 90s animated X-Men series than, say, a character. Oh, also he isn’t from the future, but from Canada, which is considerably less interesting. Booster spends most pf this JLI’s incarnation as “boring leader character”, with his tenure as leader characterized by frequent clashes with Guy Gardner and getting betrayed by OMAC, with basically nothing else of note happening ever. At the end of the series, Booster meets an older version of himself who says that he has to prevent Superman and Wonder Woman from dating, as that would, for some godforsaken reason, make present-day Booster Gold cease to exist. Of course, this proves to be an impossible task, as no force in the universe was strong enough to contest with DC Editorial’s raging hard-on for making Superman and Wonder Woman a couple. Booster pops out of existence for a while, with the older Booster popping in and out of various timelines, revealing in Future’s End that he was not an older version of the New 52, but rather, simply another Booster, potentially even the one from the old universe. A couple different Booster Golds get up to some more time shit in order to set up and participate in the events of Convergence, which can best be described as “Secret Wars, but without the decade of buildup”. Almost nothing worth mentioning happens, save for the original Booster becoming the Waverider, an omniscient time god. Of course, this is never mentioned again, and the original Booster and Ted Kord just kind of show up towards the tail end of Justice League 3000, a book that I’ve almost convinced myself was an elaborate fever dream of some kind. And I’m not joking about them just showing up out of nowhere, they literally just pop into the story, do nothing with any of the plot characters, and promptly vanish when the book gets cancelled. It’s super fucking weird.
Okay, I know I probably didn’t do the best job selling Booster Gold by summarizing all the dumb, gimmicky, and overcomplicated events he’s been dragged through, but, well, them’s the breaks. Poor guy is just an easy target for overly convoluted time adventures, but even in some of his worst appearances, the underlying personality and fun that the character carries with him manages to shine through, allowing us to see a fantastically realized hero, a total douche who managed to turn his life around to such a degree that Batman, a man whose entire life is built around not showing his emotions to his friends and family, has told Booster to his face that he thinks he’s pretty neat.
If you’ve ever seen Justice League Unlimited or Brave and the Bold (Which, again, you absolutely should watch if you hadn’t), you know exactly how fun the guy can be, and how much emotional depth he carries just below the surface. If you’ve read his best comics, you know he’s a true hero. And if you haven’t done any of those, well, you can trust me on this one. Booster Gold is a god damned hero, and he’d better be back soon in Rebirth.
Until next time, and as always, thanks for sticking with me folks.