Posted by: Graeme McMillan on August 15, 2007
Strange but true: I had a dream last night where I suddenly remembered that I had agreed to write a series for DC Comics at SDCC. As in, it was still August, and everything else was entirely like real life, but I had somehow forgotten that a couple of weeks back, I’d said to Dan DiDio that I would write something (I don’t remember what, the way that dreams can be both entirely clear and completely opaque at the same time – I think that it was Justice League?) for him for a few months. I remembered this, in the dream, with something approaching a sense of dread: “Why did I say I’d do that,” I moaned to someone, “I don’t have time to write comics.”
That sound you heard was the death of all fun in my life. Shall we review?
It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I was twelve years old or so, Booster Gold wasn’t just my favorite comic book but also my favorite comic character. I’m not entirely sure why, exactly; I think there was something about his being (back when he was starring in his original series, before the JLI days) a flawed hero who nonetheless was trying to be better, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Dan Jurgens’ art didn’t help a lot. When I was twelve, Jurgens was somewhere close to my favorite comic artist, as well.
(You may mock, but Jurgens was pretty directly responsible for my love of Grant Morrison; Morrison’s Zenith was starting in 2000AD around this time, and the idea of materialistic, kind of selfish superhero like Zenith was an easy sell to someone who thought that it was probably just a weekly, black and white version of his favorite comic character. Little did I know what I was getting into, but then again, I was twelve.)
All of which is my way of telling you that it’s fair to say that I was rather excited about BOOSTER GOLD #1. In addition to the whole fanboy nostalgia about the character – if not Jurgens’ art, which hasn’t grown up with my tastes, sadly – it’s also been sold as one of the two 52-spin-offs that actually involves the writers that made the original series so good, and it’s all about time travel. How could it fail?
For those expecting me to now list the way in which it fails, you should all be less cynical; the issue is actually pretty Good. It’s not going to revolutionize comics or even your opinion of Geoff Johns (who I happen to quite like, actually. Sorry, Alan), but it does exactly what you want it to, and does it rather well. Johns (and co-writer Jeff Katz) lay out a first issue that clearly introduces the characters involved as well as the new concept behind the series with a minimum of expositionary clunk – Call me old-fashioned, but I actually appreciated the data dump dialogue when it appeared – and then repeat the Justice Society trick of ending the issue with four peeks into what’s lying ahead in the first year of the book, whetting your appetite for more. It’s a smart pilot episodic format, giving the reader everything they need to decide whether or not they’ll want to keep reading, and even if you’re not the kind of person for whom time travel stories that also work as continuity implants seems like a big draw, you still have to appreciate the everything-you-need-in-one structure.
Jurgens’ art, which defined late-80s, early-90s superhero comics for me, is solid enough, but maybe it’s that association with a specific timeframe that makes it seem dated for me, along with his tendency towards a genericism of figure and facial experessions. It’s not bad, but it’s just… solid. There’s a potential for this book to be quirkier and more fun, and as much as I like the idea of the character’s creator being involved in this new series, I do kind of wonder what a more left-field artist could’ve done with the material.
All of that said, I finished this issue and didn’t feel the feeling of fanboy depression that I’d expected. It’s not like being twelve years old again – which can only be a good thing, really – but if you liked the Booster stuff in 52, you’ll be on board with this for the foreseeable future. Insert your own time travel-related punchline here.