Thursday, June 9, 2016

Booster Gold #1 (1986)


Booster Gold #1 (February, 1986)
"The Big Fall"
Creator, Plotter & Writer - Dan Jurgens
Inker - Mike DeCarlo
Colorist - Tom Ziuko
Letterer - Agustin Mas
Editor - Janice Race
Cover Price: $0.75

I mentioned the other day that I spent much of the past weekend at the Phoenix Comicon.  While there I conducted interviews and my wife took some photos of cosplayers for DC in the 80s.  While there, I came across... well, one of my absolute favorite comics creators  In case the subject of this review isn't hint enough, that creator is Dan Jurgens.

When I first noticed him I nudged the wife... she's not into comics, but when I told her that he was the fella that killed Superman, she knew how important he was (to the industry in general, as well as myself).

I ambled on over, and introduced myself... you know that feeling when you think about meeting one of your heroes and totally being underwhelmed or disappointed... or maybe you just caught 'em on a bad day?  Well, those fears vanished as soon as I shook his hand.  He was super friendly, and made me feel like he was happy to be meeting me!



I didn't hang around long, as I didn't want to get in the way of any folks buying a commission from him... and unfortunately I didn't have a prearranged/pre-approved interview set with him... however, in our brief time, I'm sure I gushed enough to let him know how much I enjoy his work.

On the drive home, I was kicking myself for not asking any questions.  Here I was standing before one of the folks who literally shaped my perception of comic books... and affected my reading for over twenty-years, and all I did was gush like a dope.

The wife asked why I didn't just buy a commission from him... and I tells ya, if I wasn't driving at the moment... I'da kicked myself as hard as I could!

Anyhoo... Today we're gonna look at one of Mr. Jurgens most endearing character creations, Booster Gold!  Before we move into my normal spoilery synopsis, I just want to extend a huge thanks to Dan Jurgens for his kindness and his time!  

--


We open with Skip Andrews, frustrated Managing Editor for Blaze Comics.  He's looking for the next big thing that will give the company the Boost it so desperately needs.  As if by fate, when he finishes thinking out loud, he sees the latest edition of the Daily Planet, adorned with a headline about the "hottest new hero" in town, Booster Gold.  He's got an idea...


We jump to an Athletic Club where Booster is getting in his workout... while negotiating his take on an upcoming series of Booster Gold feature films.  He plays hardball with his man Conrad, and winds up with a peach of a deal... a ton of cash, some of the back end, and even the starring role!


We get an idea of just how important/well-known Booster's become in his short time in Metropolis.  As he and Conrad head across the facility to the lobby and juice bar several key members of society all greet him... or almost greet him, in the case of a senator who believes his name to be "Buster".  Booster orders a spa shake, and when he is finished the hostess retrieves his glass and hands it off to a shadowy man.


Booster meets with his driver, and has a misunderstanding over just what it means to "shake one's leg".  Inside the car he is lectured by his little robot companion Skeets regarding his need to familiarize himself with expressions.  While in the car, he calls his offices at Goldstar and speaks with his receptionist Trixie.  He asks her if she's made any headway getting in touch with the Justice League of America about becoming a member.


Just then, a large armored vehicle barrels down the street, with several squad cars in tow.  Booster and Skeets hop into action, quickly disabling the vehicle and rescuing civilians.


The armored vehicle opens revealing a crew of green clad henchmen.  After making short work of them, Booster is introduced to the main event... the man called Blackguard.  The two spar back and forth with neither getting the upper hand.


We shift to a penthouse office, where our shadowy fellow (from the juice bar, now known as Myron) presents an even shadowier man with Booster Gold's drinking glass.  They seek to find out Booster's true identity by means of testing his fingerprints.


Back on the street, Booster and Blackguard are still tangled in battle.  Young WGBS news reporter, Jimmy Olsen is on the sidelines reporting.  I believe Jimmy's appearance here is where people have a bit of trouble "placing" this issue.  If Jimmy works for WGBS, it's clearly a pre-Crisis tale... yet, Booster Gold is often referred to as (among) the first post-Crisis characters.  I suppose it doesn't really matter in the long run, but still a neat little "didja know?"


After a bit more tussling, Booster is able to lure Blackguard over to a power terminal, which he punches... electrocuting himself.


Back at Goldstar, Booster's agent Dirk Davis is wheeling and dealing.  Shortly, Skip Andrew of Blaze Comics is making the call to secure Booster's likeness for a comic book adaptation.  Dirk's shocked to hear that they even still make those things!  There's also a cute scene between Trixie and a cat-fearing jerk.


Back on the outside, Booster Gold is soaring through the sky carrying Blackguard's bounty of a S.T.A.R. Labs satellite guidance system.  He calls Trixie again to press the JLA issue, and this is the first time we see that Booster is wearing a Legion flight ring.


Booster arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs and meets with members of the press... much to the disdain of S.T.A.R.'s own Dr. Klyburn.  The SGS was a top secret project... and now thanks to Booster the whole world (or at least those watching the news) knows about it.


The broadcast is interrupted by an attack.  We observe Booster attempting to maintain order and help the civilians to safety... unfortunately, he falls victim to a blast from his next threat... a woman in a peculiar costume.  The reporters are left wondering if Metropolis' latest hero is truly their protector or just a failure...


--

What can I say?  This is a great issue, and a wonderful introduction of a brand-new character entering the DC landscape.  Not only an introduction, but a pretty brave one.  Booster is written as terribly unlikable, and under a pen other than Jurgens would have sunk right out of the gate.  At this point, I don't think we've seen another lead character who was, for lack of a better term "aloof to the reader".  It was brave, creative, FUNNY, and worked like a charm.

There was a fair amount of hinting at Booster's origin here, without going into any level of clarification, and I really appreciate that.  We get a glimpse at the Legion flight ring, and Skeets makes mention of his needing to familiarize himself with "local" languages and customs... but nothing overtly stated.

The big-bad was a great "gimme" for the reader to get a decent exhibition and demonstration of Booster's "powers"... the fight was well done and the cliffhanger is intriguing.  The sub-plot concerning Booster's fingerprints is interesting, and the poor Blaze Comics fella trying to get the rights to Booster Gold was funny "You mean they still print those?" indeed!

If I could change anything, I think I'd have given it a more iconic cover.  Being the first issue and a brand-new character, I'd reckon a more instantly identifiable cover would have been in order.  Not that the given cover is by any means bad, mind you, but it doesn't strike me as "iconic".  I've read this issue many times, and each time this cover strikes me as just not quite right for an issue #1.  I had similar feelings about John Byrne's Superman #1... the yellow one... just didn't feel like a "number one".

Most definitely recommended.  It shouldn't be too difficult to come by, and is worth the hunt.  If you don't mind the black and white art, the whole shebang is also available in a(n apparently out of print) SHOWCASE Presents Volume.  If you're not like me and digital comics don't make your teeth itch, you're in luck... the whole enchilada is available at readdcentertainment.com for $1.99 a piece, and they're well worth it.

Before wrapping up for the day, another big thanks to Dan Jurgens.  It was a thrill and pleasure to meet the man, and I anxiously await reading his upcoming/current run on the legacy-numbered (yup, still matters to me) Action Comics.

--

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The times... they were a'different...

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