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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Booster Gold: The Tomorrow Memory

A while back, I reviewed Booster Gold: Day of Death. In hindsight, I think I gave too high a rating, as it was, in truth, pretty mediocre. Indeed, Booster Gold's eponymous series was never particularly outstanding, but it was one thing that made it stand head and shoulders above the rest: It was fun. In a world surrounded by joyless, ultra-serious grim-and-grittiness, we have a fun, irreverent, silly book which plays with the idea of time travel in a superhero shared universe. The stories in this title are sometimes a bit involved, and require the reader to have some knowledge of the fictional history of the DC Universe, but the comic usually fills the reader in so that they know enough to enjoy the story.

For instance, the primary story arc of this book, "The Tomorrow Memory", heavily involves that time when Cyborg-Superman and Mongul teamed up to destroy Coast City and turn it into a giant engine for a new War World. (Told you so.) The basic plot is that 75 or so years in the future, the government has developed crude time travel abilities and sends an agent back in time to avert the disaster. Booster Gold, being the protector of the integrity of the time stream with Rip Hunter, has to make sure that history happens as it did, including resulting in Coast City being wiped off the map. The aforementioned agent isn't too happy about this, but neither is Booster.

The other story in this book precedes "The Tomorrow Memory," and is a two-parter focusing on what Booster Gold was doing during the Blackest Night crisis crossover back in 2009. Man, has it already been five years? Anyway, this story features Booster and Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) being forced to fight a reanimated Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Booster's dead best friend. It's appropriately titled "Dead Ted."

The thing about this title is that is plays with the concept of time travel without trying to sound too clever about it. There's not a whole lot of time spent discussing how exactly the mechanics of time travel work, with the main focus being on how Booster and co. deal with having to protect history- even when it means letting terrible things happen. This trade paperback also toys around with the idea that there are people outside of Booster and Rip's little group who can travel in time and want to "help" by averting big disasters. At the same time, I'm kind of disappointed that The Tomorrow Memory wasn't gutsy enough to apply the idea to real life catastrophes, like the First and Second World Wars. On the other hand, it may have been a good idea to show some respect for real life tragedies and stick to metatextual commentary on fictional events. I guess it all depends on personal preference, and I suppose it wasn't such a bad way to go.

Another particularly great thing in this book is the emotion. In "Dead Ted", Booster is forced to fight the reanimated corpse of his dead best friend, who has Ted's voice, memories, gadgets, etc. Booster's initial response to the situation is actually kind of funny, in a weird, twisted sort of way. In this story, however, Booster is seen dealing with Ted's death at Ted's funeral in the past. It's some really heart-pounding stuff, and the end of this story is pretty touching.

The best stuff, however, is in "The Tomorrow Memory" where Booster is reunited with his sister, Michelle, who got ticked off at him in the previous book and lost herself a few years in the past. There's a whole final issue devoted to Booster mending fences with Michelle over what happened during this story arc. We get to really dig into Booster's feelings about his hero career, and how much he hates his job, but goes on doing it anyway. Rip Hunter also gets some character development in a very spoileriffic way which I won't discuss here. I will say, however, that Rip is more than just Booster Gold's mentor: He's a superhero in his own right. And I've got to say, I like Rip almost as much as I like Booster. That last issue is probably my favorite in the whole series, next to the Batman-secret-keeper one.

In short, Booster Gold: The Tomorrow Memory isn't the best comic book story around, or even the best Booster Gold story, but it's still quite good. Despite my better rating of the previous trade, I actually liked this one better, and I think it is better. The only particular flaws were more annoyances than anything else. For instance, at the beginning of almost every issue, Booster takes some time to explain via inner monologue his basic origin story, which kind of got on my nerves. I understand that there's a lot of pressure on these writers to cater to new readers who are cold calling on these issues, but it does so at the expense of loyal, longtime readers and fans. I was like, "I know this already. Get on with it!" There's also the art, which looks great, but the fight scenes just look a little uncoordinated and goofy. Other than these few complaints, I recommend this books for all Booster Gold fans, and happily direct such readers to Justice League International, 52, and Justice League: Generation Lost, the last being one of my favorite comic book series.

RATING: 7.5/10

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