After a lackluster Batman issue and a flat-out frustrating turn as the douchey adult to a modern-day Legionnaire in the first issue of Red Robin, Dick Grayson’s second week as Batman is off to a somewhat shaky start.
Swinging in to the rescue (and being mistaken for Green Lantern and Superman in the act of doing it) is Booster Gold, the greatest hero the world will never know, as Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund return to Booster Gold and a new story arc—“Day of Death”—that kicks off with Rip and Booster deciding to hide the truth of Booster’s time-saving mission from whoever might find their way into the Batcave and ends with Booster saving Dick Grayson’s life in the present, only to inadvertently cause his death in the past.
With some of the strongest characterization we’ve seen in Booster Gold yet, this issue explored a number of dangling issues from the series’ first year—including Booster’s hesitation to be Rip’s “time monkey” (a subplot that had vanished out of necessity as developments in the main plot needed constant attention), a return to his more glory-seeking and commercial roots and a genuine, human need for someone who understands him. It seems that all of this story really flowed from the second consecutive hard-luck experience with having a “best friend” in the superhero community for Booster. Bruce Wayne, after all, had told him just a little while ago that while he “might not be Ted Kord,” he’d always be there when Booster needed him.
On the flipside of the issue is the first installment of the Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) co-feature, and I’ll admit that I was a little lost on this one. Having given up on Blue Beetle after #25, I didn’t catch the last six or so issues before it was canceled. While I’ve heard some of the plot developments (particularly those that might or might not pertain to the Black Beetle), new readers may be a little lost trying to figure out why Paco and Brenda are bickering. Still, the story—which literally revolved around Blue Beetle fighting giant robots—was a fun diversion; Mike Norton’s art is not only capable, but fits better as a complement to Dan Jurgens’ Booster Gold work than the more popular Raphael Albuquerque’s Blue Beetle pencils would have done and, as I’ve said before, if I have to pay another buck, I’d just as soon get something out of it. Blog@Newsarama sat down with Booster Gold writer/penciler Dan Jurgens to talk about the issue.
Blog@Newsarama: OK – So I can see this being a bone of contention with our new friends in the back half of the book, and I’m just going to get it out there right away: The Black Beetle. At what point was his identity decided? Is it something you, Jeff and Geoff always knew or is it something that came in later?
Dan Jurgens: My general impression is that Geoff and Jeff did not have a definite plan in mind for the Black Beetle. Whatever it is, we started making some plans that work in with what we want to accomplish on the book.
BLOG@: Between the reference to Jaime and the return of the Black Beetle, it seems as though this was a tailor-made issue for Blue Beetle’s jumping-on point. Was that serendipity or editorial influence?
DJ: Serendipity. Just one of those things that ended up working out, I guess.
BLOG@: Your Superman is such an iconic look–did you deliberately try to make the one on the monitors look more Doug Mahnke-esque?
DJ: More of a deliberate effort to match up with a scene from Final Crisis, I’d say. I think it’s important that, when reflecting a previous scene, an artist should try to do so accurately.
BLOG@: Do you have a concrete sense of the power levels that Booster’s suit and all that can generate? You make a comment about it here, but it’s something that’s varied a lot over the years.
DJ: It may have varied between writers but I think I’ve been fairly consistent. Some guys have given him a power level that doesn’t seem to run beyond the capability generated by two “C” batteries and that’s not accurate. Booster can hold his own.
BLOG@: There has been a lot of mistaking Booster for Green Lantern, especially. I mean, here it kinda makes sense but the earlier references on Justice League Unlimited seemed a bit arbitrary. Is it just the ring and the general layout or what’s the deal here?
DJ: If you’re in Coast City and get rescued by someone you don’t get a good look at, but happens to be able to fly, wouldn’t you assume it’s GL? C’mon!
BLOG@: Is Booster on the trail of finding out Rip’s secret? He seems very suspicious…!
DJ: At the very least he’s beginning to wonder if there’s more to Rip than meets the eye. Which, quite obviously, there is!
BLOG@: Arizona? – What happened to Pittsburgh? Olliffe and I were just talking about Pittsburgh as the home base last month!
DJ: It was well-established in 52 that Rip’s lab is in Arizona. It’s possible he has more than one lab, however.
BLOG@: D’Oh! That’s right…it’s the house that’s in Pittsburgh. Well, inside the lab we have a solitary blackboard note this month. Superman 2965? Is that going to tie into the upcoming story with the Legion of Super-Heroes?
BLOG@: This is the second time we’ve had Booster break into the Batcave…and the first time we’ll actually get to see it (remember the end of the Dixon fill-in?)! Any insight as to how he got his costume back last time?
DJ: Booster is a time traveler! Getting a costume back is simple with capabilities like that! We also saw Booster break into the Batcave in Infinite Crisis.
BLOG@: Yeah, but that time he got caught. Has Booster just decided that having a Batman–any Batman–on his side is a good idea? Why did he give up his secrets so easy?
DJ: I’d say he’s comfortable with Dick Grayson as Batman. I don’t think he’d confide in any guy who happens to be wearing the suit.
BLOG@: So this is an interesting issue in that it ties very nicely into the Titans crossover, as well as what’s going on in the DCU right now. Will you be dabbling a little bit more in “current” continuity than before? I know there was originally a desire to stay away from the plot point du jour…!
DJ: There are certain things that are quite natural to reflect. Certainly Batman’s death, and the idea that Booster would want to go back in time to avert that, is a one of those.