Well, now, this is a pleasant surprise. I’ve been following Booster Gold since it kicked off, but aside from the odd mildly entertaining issue, it hasn’t really lived up to the promise shown by its premise. Simply put, if you’ve got Booster Gold hopping around through time setting history straight, then surely the thing to do is to have him show up in as many classic and/or memorable stories as possible? It’s been done from time to time – such as a Killing Joke issue that came off as somewhat misjudged – but never really exploited to its full potential as an idea. Until now.
Because not only does this issue see Booster thrown slap-bang into the middle of the events of an old DCU comic, but it’s one that’s a bona fide classic. Regular readers will know of my affection for Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans, and in particular issue #2 is actually one of the first comics that I remember ever reading. So having the events of its pages – and there’s as much story in that one issue as you’d see in a six-part arc nowadays – as the backdrop to this issue holds immediate appeal from the start – but it’s even more pleasing that it’s done in a clever and involving way.
The line that Jurgens has chosen to take with this particular excursion of Booster’s is to have the Ravager story play out almost exactly as it did in that issue – except to account for the presence of Booster and the villainous Black Beetle. So to begin with, the difference is mild, and Grant Wilson’s vendetta follows a familiar course – but as the story rolls on, it deviates further from established “history”, culminating in a surprise ending. Dialogue is either faithfully reproduced or altered to suit the changed circumstances while remaining familiar – and various scenes will strike a chord for anyone who fondly remembers the original. And yes, Jurgens even finds time to alight on a certain memorable poolside scene – although, as with Perez, there’s a slightly more innocent feel to the artwork than if someone like Ed Benes had drawn it.
Indeed, this facet actually gets to the nub of why having this comic intersect with New Teen Titans works so well. Wolfman and Perez’s work was magnificent, but it also looks quite old-fashioned nowadays – but the thing is, so is Booster Gold. In the ’90s, Jurgens may have been “cutting edge”, but neither his writing nor his art style have really moved on at all from then. Which is actually fine, so long as you like it (and I do) – but the point is, this isn’t a very “modern” comic, and its charming old-fashionedness therefore goes hand in hand with the similar attributes of the comic that it’s essentially throwing Booster wholesale into the pages of.
Meanwhile, of course, Booster now shares his pages with a 10-page Blue Beetle strip. And it’s decent enough, really, like much of Sturges’ run on the cancelled title was – a fairly straightforward action story with solid artwork and a handful of amusing character moments. I’m not sure it’ll do much to get people buying Booster Gold purely for it (aside from those who were already fans of Jaime) – you’d probably need John Rogers back for that – but it’s just nice to see stories featuring the book’s set of characters again, and I hope DC continue to see it as a good idea.