Booster Gold #28

With Blackest Night behind him, Booster Gold was back to business-as-usual this month, with the first really "ordinary" issue since Dan Jurgens took over the title. Between chaotic crossovers, time travel disasters and fill-in teams, Jurgens stepped into his role as writer of Booster Gold and almost immediately started running flat-out.

As most of you know already, that run will be coming to an end soon, as former Justice League International masterminds Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis are joined by former Infinity Inc. penciler Chris Batista to take over the title sometime this spring.

What most of you don't know, and what Jurgens tells The Gold Exchange this week, is that this is more of a Gail Simone-on-Birds of Prey kind of departure than a Gail Simone-on-Deadpool kind. Jurgens, the man who created Booster Gold and has had a hand in writing or drawing almost all of the character's solo stories for the last twenty-four years, is planning to come back to his creation after taking what he calls "a temporary reprieve from Booster Gold to handle something else."

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Booster Gold #28, out yesterday, featured our time-traveling, toothpaste-shilling superhero busting it up with the Royal Flush Gang (again) before being summoned to help Rip Hunter with a crisis in time. Clearly a lot more comfortable in his role as "time cop" these days, Booster asks Rip if it's a bunch of nuts trying to kill Hitler again, and while Rip says no, it is an assassination attempt...and the target, NASA mission commander Hank Henshaw, is someone who's responsible for millions of deaths in the DCU.

Henshaw, whose experimental rocket was bombarded with radiation in a Jurgens-written issue of Superman about ten years ago, would ultimately be the last surviving member of the craft's four-person crew. Having lost his wife and two friends in a tragedy that Superman arrived moments too late to prevent, Henshaw blamed Superman for his sorry luck and, when he ultimately took on the ability to embody and manipulate machinery, he set out to ruin Superman's reputation. In the months after Superman's death at the hands of Doomsday in Superman #75 (also written and drawn by Dan Jurgens), Henshaw assumed the identity of the Cyborg Superman, and was responsible for the destruction of Coast City. Apparently some years from now, the United States government aims to send the first-ever time traveler back in time. That traveler's mission? To stop the destruction of Coast City by any means necessary.

The Gold Exchange: Is Jaime going to play a big role in this arc? The cover is kind of unusual, given that he doesn't appear in the Booster story this month.

Dan Jurgens: No, but it does reflect what's happening in the issue overall. Blue Beetle has a backup, you know!

GX: ...For now, anyway! Who's this John Stanisci? I've never heard of him, and while his finishes aren't bad by any stretch, they look more like Bill Sienkiewicz's inks did on your work in "Day of Doom" than they do Norm's. The difference from page-to-page at the end is a bit jarring.

DJ: Unfortunately, that's true. Due to the altered holiday schedule, we had to ask for a quick pinch hitting job at the end. We appreciate John's help.

GX: Near as I can tell, "Project Slipshift" isn't something that's existed in the DCU is the head scientist someone we're meant to recognize?

DJ: No. This is something and someone entirely new.

GX: And is that a guest-appearance by The Stig?

DJ: Not at all. Totally coincidental.

GX: That's a shame. You know, time travel would be nice for him to have on his resume. Dan, I'm just noticing the shape of the building, and its being situated on a bunch of bluffs...and the fact that there was a massive chronal blast inside...did we just witness, on the first few pages of this comic, the Secret Origin of Vanishing Point?

DJ: Sheesh! In time travel, anything is possible. Or not.

GX: "Laying it on thick," Booster might be--but I'm reasonably certain we'll see more of that in the near future. I know you've been wanting to revisit that element of Booster's personality a little bit, but does it segue nicely into Keith and J.M.'s broader, more comedic take on the character?

DJ: I don't know how broad Keith and J.M. are necessarily going to go, but I think it's simply consistent with who Booster is and, more importantly, how he wants to be thought of by the world in general.

Booster can make a joke or two but he is most certainly not an idiot, nor should be written like one.

GX: It's funny, because I hadn't thought of it until he said, "Another time mission...": All we see is the time missions because that's what the book is about, but are we to assume that these aren't happening end-to-end, and that Booster has a little time for more everyday superheroing with at least some regularity?

DJ: Exactly right. We see the time missions but I think there are obviously gaps where Booster goes out and busts the bad guys in current time.

GX: Can you give us a timeline? Roughly how long after Superman #75 (as perceived by the characters in the story) did #80 (and the destruction of Coast City) happen? There's still flags on the streets and a hiring freeze because of widespread mourning...!

DJ: It's hard to pin down an exact timeframe, but I feel comfortable that given the importance of the event, we would have seen flags and that attitude lasting for more than a few weeks. I think it is consistent with other matters of grave national tragedy we've seen, and the death of Superman was certainly that in the DCU.

GX: Another clarification: Can you tell us to what extent it's public knowledge that Booster comes from the future, and/or that he doesn't have any "real" powers outside of his suit? At various times in the DCU it's been treated differently, and Henshaw's mention of it just reminded me.

DJ: I've always thought the public's awareness of Booster is really loose. Have people heard he's from the future? Absolutely. Do they believe that? Not necessarily. He isn't regarded to be on the same level as Superman and I think most people, because of his ad work, would be skeptical about anything he says. He's a BS artist, after all, even to the extent that he discredits himself some.

GX: I'm curious: was the original mission by the people in 2083 to kill Henshaw, or is that something that this woman took upon herself after being shanghaied in time?

DJ: The original mission to negate the destruction of Coast City by whatever means necessary.

GX: So, this woman--for now, I'll call her The Stig--she's the one Michelle saw in the time window, right? The one who you told me they would meet in the past but didn't know yet?

DJ: Yes, indeed!

GX: And what about this "The end is near" guy: Is he someone we're going to see some more from, or just a plot device to draw Michelle closer to Henshaw?

DJ: You will definitely see him again.

GX: To put Michelle's situation in context--is there still interference from "The Great Disaster" or whatever, that prevents people in Michael and Michelle's time from knowing too many details of the past? I kind of prefer, on an intellectual level, that she's just human and, without Rip Hunter, forgets the finer points.

DJ: In terms of the era they came from, yes, there are limits to what they know. Would they know Superman "died" and returned? Yes. Would they know an entire city of seven million was wiped off the face of the planet? Yes.

But the exact details might have been lost or simply somewhat glossed over by lack of interest on their part.

Certainly, Rip would have filled in blanks if he was so inclined.

GX: Alright, now for extra bonus points, as I alluded to above, it's out of the bag now that Keith, JM and Batista are taking over Booster Gold. We'll have plenty more time to talk about this, I'm sure, but what prompted you to mosey on down the road?

DJ: This is a bit weird because the announcement that I'm gone came before the announcement of where I'm headed. It's a bit early to talk about but I'm taking a temporary reprieve from Booster Gold to handle something else. More on that to come!

GX: And while they haven't announced a start date for the new creative team yet, is it safe to assume that "The Tomorrow Memory" is your final arc on the title?

DJ: Perhaps. We're actually trying to coordinate all that now. There are a number of various things to consider here.

GX: Is there anything you really want to do with the last few issues before you move along? Thirty-odd issues is a pretty good run these days, but nothing compared to your time on, say, Superman.

DJ: Yeah, there are a couple of items on the agenda. At the same time, I plan to return so I wouldn't say I'll be gone forever!

GX: Geek Gazette asked: Will we ever see Trixie Collins, Booster's most-loved supporting character from the first series, come back?

DJ: No plans for Trixie at present.

GX: RealMuppet asked: Given Booster (and RIp's) big role in the end of 52--and I realize Grant Morrison has first dibs on this--but are there plans down the line for Booster to play a significant role in the timelines of the other 51 universes? Or is he primarily bound to New Earth?

DJ: Stay tuned. We have definite thoughts on Booster's role in the DCU.

GX: BeetleBooster asked: With you leaving, will he have a chance to wrap the dangling teasers from #1 before the new writers take over, or will these be passed on to the next creative team, or will they just be put on indefinite hold?

DJ: We won't be able to wrap up all the storylines indicated from the first year, such as the LSH story, but we'll get to it in one fashion or another soon.

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.

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.

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