With today’s release of Booster Gold: Reality Lost in paperback from DC Comics, any casual reader who bailed on the title after Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz left, only to find their way back because of the good buzz Dan Jurgens’ run has had, can catch up on anything of import that they missed while they were away.
Chuck Dixon’s two-issue fill-in arc, along with Jurgens’ initial four part arc “Reality Lost,” come together in this collection to tell a full story beginning with the return of a Dixon-created villain called Wiley Dalbert, a time-traveling thief who had appeared in a singleDetective Comics story almost a decade before, the story follows a relic—a knife, imbued with chronal energy—that turns out to be, unbeknownst to anyone at the start of the tale, extremely important to the history of the DC Universe. If this knife doesn’t go to exactly the right place at exactly the right time, it can cause Batman, Blue Beetle, Maxwell Lord and a number of other characters never to have existed.
The problem with this collection is the same as the problem with the monthlies—due to scheduling problems and a variety of outside factors, there is an abrupt cutoff when Dixon’s two issues end…and while the monthlies followed a Rick Remender/Patrick Olliffe story that had no relation to the story of the knife and disrupted the flow of the narrative, it’s not much easier to follow here, where that story is removed but it’s clear that the end of Dixon’s story was never written, with the beginning of Jurgens’ solo chapters picking up on the next page and just hoping that the fans can cope with the understanding that everything had turned out fine, all those years ago in Gotham.
It’s nice looking back at everything in one volume, though. Even though they might not clean up every dangling plot thread, it doesn’t take long for Jurgens’ story to take the reader’s mind off of what wasn’t resolved—meanwhile, the communication between the pair is clear as Michelle Carter (Booster’s sister, who disappears in anger at the end of the story) is seen as early as the first Dixon issue asking question after rapid-fire question and being basically ignored by Rip and Booster. Is it any wonder she starts to feel out of the loop?
Ultimately this collection may end up overlooked—the first of the Booster Gold collections not to be brought first to hardcover, and featuring the first real growing pains of the series (let’s face it—the book got a running start out of52 and had to kind of rejigger its internal logic after Geoff Johns was gone), but it shouldn’t; it’s a character-driven, fun and sometimes heartfelt story that succeeds in both touching on the editorially-necessary DC touchstones (Faces of Evil, Blackest Night) and remaining focused, never letting those events to feel like editorial mandates or interference. Jurgens’ art has been since the first issue—and continues to be in this volume—some of the best of his long and prestigious career, and his writing is as consistent, focused and smart here as it’s been since his run on Superman in the ‘90s, when he became arguably the biggest name in the comics industry for a few years. If that doesn’t convince you, just think about this: if you’ve got any interest in the overarching narrative of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, this story is as essential to its eventual resolution as the first two stories were, and as the fourth story is shaping up to be.