Booster Gold #20

Up until now, Booster Gold and his readers hadn't really had a full issue to catch our collective breath and steel ourselves for the coming story arc. This month's Booster Gold #20 by Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens and Patrick Olliffe was just such a book. While Rip Hunter services the damaged Time Sphere, Booster decides to go time-diving to 1952, hoping to catch a glimpse of malt shops, poodle skirts and early rock 'n' roll.

Instead, predictably, he ends up working with a postwar Sgt. Rock in one of the earliest incarnations of DC's Task Force X/Suicide Squad, infiltrating a U.S. Government installation where Soviet scientists have feigned defection in order to gain access to the American space program and its secrets. Featuring a number of names both working with the good guys and even for the Russians that will sound familiar, the story takes Booster's role as the unsung hero of the timestream one step farther: Rock recruits him, just as Rip Hunter already has, to assist in a mission which, if done right, will generate no attention whatsoever.

The framing sequence, penciled by regular series artist Dan Jurgens but inked by Rodney Ramos, is a little stiff and muddy. It's clear that Ramos-whose work I always loved on Transmetropolitan-doesn't have the same relationship with Jurgens as Norm Rapmund, who not only ordinarily finishes Jurgens' work on Booster Gold, but inked over his pencils on this week's Brave & the Bold featuring Booster and Magog.

In between the brief opening and closing sequences by Jurgens and Ramos, though, is a lead story illustrated by Patrick Olliffe and Rapmund. Olliffe, who has drawn Booster Gold before both in 52 and in an earlier fill-in arc written by Rick Remender, capably illustrates the faces, places and unique look of the '50s without making Booster and his decidedly-modern costume look too out of place in the bargain. While Keith Giffen took time off from his roughly 47 monthly projects to grab a quick vacation, Comic Related was able to catch up with Dan Jurgens and Patrick Olliffe to discuss the art, the character and the ramifications of this issue for the future of the title.

Comic Related: Patrick, the first thing I wanted to ask you was: Since you live in Pittsburgh, did you realize that Booster Gold's "home base" is in Pittsburgh? Daniel and Rose live there, anyway.

Patrick Olliffe: I didn't know that! That's pretty cool. There's not much use for Pittsburgh references in the average Booster Goldstory, but that's good to know, I never thought of that before. Considering that's where my home base is here, though, that's pretty good to know.

CR: I also don't know if you're aware that in all of history, if you look at Booster Gold solo comics, you're the only person not named Dan Jurgens to draw one.

PO: Oh really? I wasn't sure if that was right or not because I figured there had to be somebody else popping in there somewhere, but wow, that's pretty cool-it's a neat little badge of honor there, because I do enjoy drawing the character and to be able to say that I'm the only guy other than Dan to take part in this in his history is neat. I like that. I think 52 was my first opportunity really to draw the character, and it was certainly a lot of fun to do. I was happy that they gave me some of those scenes in 52 that involved Booster Gold and I think somebody over there seemed to like my depiction of the character and how I handled the character, and they were nice enough to keep me in mind for when they needed a hand on the fill-in, which I take as a big compliment.

CR: I can't remember; were you the guy who actually got to kill him?

PO: Basically I was the guy that did the Booster Gold reveal during that period. I don't think I'm the guy that killed him, but I like to remember the reveal more than anything else; I got to do the shot with Skeets and everything. Believe me, I was happy to work on it and it was a lot of fun, but it was pretty crazy.

CR: Are you guys just kind of a good match for editorial or are you and Keith friends?

PO: I think it's a combination of things; it's a combination of enjoying working together-I think he and I clicked pretty quickly working on 52, so I like to think that he was happy with the work that I did for him on 52 and then again on the Four Horsemen miniseries which was a lot of fun. I think he and I storytelling wise and character-wise clicked pretty quickly. I think it's a case of he and I enjoying working together and I think that DC or specifically Mike Siglain saw that there was a connection there and that we worked well together. I'd never had a chance to work with him before 52 and it's certainly not an instance on 52 where you had one specific penciller matched with one specific writer. Because Keith was doing the layouts there was more of an artistic collaboration on that level as opposed to just specifically writer-penciller. But we got to work more that way on the Four Horsemen miniseries and I think even then we were able to see how well we worked together. How the assignments get doled out at DC or Marvel or anyplace else, I'm not exactly sure when it comes right down to it...but if it's a combination of the writer and the penciler liking the work together and then an editorial vision that these two guys look good together and work good together, it makes the whole process easier.

CR: Your stuff seems more in synch with Keith's script than it did with Rick's, in terms of pacing and motion. Do you think that's because you guys have worked together so much recently?

PO: I think that might be part of it but Rick has a real strong visual sense as well. Both Keith and Rick are coming from strong visual backgrounds. I think the difference between the two of them to be honest is that sometimes when you're working from the script from a writer you're not exactly in synch with how he sees the page, how he sees the action and how he sees the flow of the artwork or the flow of the story visually...but I never had any problems with Rick's story. I think he and I clicked together pretty quickly and I think Keith and I clicked pretty quickly. I think that the difference might be just that the type of story that was told could not be more diametrically opposed.

CR: There certainly were a LOT of things going on in the Remender arc.

PO: I think that's a good observation; I think those two issues were just chock full of all kinds of things that we wanted to accomplish in two issues and the Keith story even though there are things that happened in the course of the story is a much quieter story. I think there's certainly a lot more information to convey in the two issues that Rick and I did together as opposed to the issue I did with Keith.

CR: Dan Jurgens-given the nature of Booster as kind of a team-up book...why send you over to Brave & the Bold-DC's "official" team-up book-in the same month that they bring in subs on Booster?

Dan Jurgens: I think the folks at DC could answer that better than me but I think they were looking to find a way to do a Magog story. At the same time, they were looking to get Brave & the Bold moving forward after a delay. Add all that together and the combination of Booster and Magog was a natural, and it also solved the problem of getting Brave & the Bold on the move.

CR: Furthermore, why did you get finished by Rod Ramos while Norm took over the guest artist?

DJ: Norm was handling Brave & the Bold with me, which was late before we even started. He needed a break on those extra four pages of Booster Gold #20.

CR: Was the decision to have you draw the framing device something that Keith came up with-or was it just a matter of you started the book and so why not?

DJ: Before Brave & the Bold became part of the equation I fully expected to draw all of #20. The change in scheduling made that impossible but I wanted to at least contribute what I could. I wish I would have had the time to do more.

CR: How much communication did you have with Keith surrounding this issue?

DJ: We talked a couple of times about the story. Keith bounced some ideas off me and I supplied what I could in terms of helpful hints. We wanted to make sure it wasn't a jarring difference.

CR: We talked last month about the fact that Rip's seemingly-innocuous trip to the Starfire origin story was actually important to the next story-and this time around, he says, "Mission accomplished," after Booster's work day is done. Are we seeing one of comics' great Machiavellian characters at play here?

DJ: Yes. That's an aspect of Rip I intend to emphasize more in the coming year or so.

Russell Burlingame is a journalist and columnist living and working in New York City. In high school, Russell interviewed Elliot S. Maggin for a review of the Kingdom Come novelization, and since then has worked consistently in and around the comics industry. He interned for Wizard magazine, and has freelanced for Wizard and Newsarama, in addition to a number of non-comics publications, Russell is currently working on a graphic novel based on Cap'n Internet, the comic strip that ran in his college newspaper; and a graphic biography of folk singer Phil Ochs with artist Marion Vitus.

Currently, in addition to his freelance work and his comics projects, Russell writes a number of columns for ComicRelated, including Conscientious Sequentials, The Gold Exchange, What's Perhappenin', Closing Statements, Reflecting 'Pool and To See or Not To See. Russell also takes point on the Hot Shot of the Week feature.

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