Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Golden Rule: No Killing?

Some heroes have very clear lines they refuse to cross. Boosters' wasn't always as clear, mainly because of the way he presented himself. 

Granted I haven't read too much of Extreme Justice so that part wouldn't be mentioned. But it's fascinating to take a look at Boosters' stance on the subject. Back in his first series it came up twice. Both times Booster threatens to kill the villians although he never carries out on it. During his final showdown with the Director he claims that the only reason he won't is because he thinks a prison sentence is worse. While presumably (don't think they found a body) the Director does die it wasn't by Boosters' hand. Later on Booster has a run in with Cheshire that in it's self raises a lot of ideas of what he actually believes in. Cheshire doubted his heroics and her partner assumed Booster could be bought. When he makes the threat Cheshire doesn't buy it. Although she does make a deal to save the misguided hero Hawk for their freedoom.

Booster ended up destroying the same deadly virus Cheshire wanted. He is so enraged with Hawk stupidity in this affair that he makes the hero walk out in the desert with the bad guys. Booster was truly disgusted that they wanted to pay him for a virus that would murder innocent people but did threaten to throw Cheshire in it. I think that Booster played a little looser with the rules back then thinking that since people only knew one side of him they'd believe he'd make good on his promise. In recent years this has come up under a few different writers although his morals have never been explored as in depth as a character like Batman would be.

Jurgens has Booster berate Magog for endangering lives and maiming the guilty. He brings up how sloppy the approach was because Magog didn't search hard enough for the remaining hostages. Giffin and DeMatteis have an odd take by having Booster darkly considering killing Max in the past. Which seems to go against his characterization in JLGL, which Giffin helped co-wrote at the beginning.

A hot topic among fans was Boosters' talk with Captain Atom under Judd Winick when the latter hero considered using lethal force to end Maxs' threat. Winick has Booster taking the same approach as Jurgens on the issue. It's an interesting one because it calls into question not only Maxs' actions but indirecting Wonder Womans' for killing Max. It's a line in the sand they both have crossed but the JLI can't. I don't think Winick was following the line of thought that WW is in the wrong so much as saying it's wrong for the JLI to go that way because it's not who they are. In regards to Booster this comes into play later when Max berates him and others for not "making the hard choices."  Booster impulsively uses those words to motivate him into pushing Max with him off of the flying Checkmate base. But Max knows that if Booster can save a life he will and turns back on his flight abilities.

As individuals past and present members have taken lives. Guy Gardner has done so in Green Lantern Corps and has no problem doing it in the line of duty if there are no other options. Fire has killed as as spy, even noting that a lot of those kills were for the wrong reasons. If you include the retcon of Ice accidently killing with her powers only two members of of the core 6 JLI that we know for sure haven't taken lives. Three if the implications Gavril taking great care not to serious injury or kill are correct. 

The closest I'm aware of Booster coming close to taking a life was in Justice League Quarterly #10. Filled with self loathing Booster puts all his blame on his scandal on the sholders of the man who will start the family run power players behind Boosters' pay out/bookie past. Booster loses control and is stopped by Ted forcing him to own up to his faults. It's pretty interesting to see a hero agreeing with the no-kill rule but still cutting it close when his emotions are high.


  1. This is interesting. I have always felt that Booster IS pretty darned heroic, and that he wouldn't kill...except possibly under impossible circumstances or by accident. I also think that he'd be pretty devastated. But different writers always seem to make different choices.

    Although, in another way, I suppose you could assume that Booster kills people ALL THE TIME...when he travels in time, and doesn't do anything to save those who will die in a catastrophe. This is what Hal and Superman were trying to do, and Rip had to stop them. Booster at least understood what was at stake.

  2. Yeah, I think his talks with Magog and Cap really highlight his feelings. He's not a killer and doesn't want to be one. I don't think Giffin and DeMatteis really get his character or his current development.

    Well, to me that's not really killing. It technically already happened and if they stop these things more often than not worse things occur which equals more deaths. Sometimes they simply can't save lives because solid time is in affect. If Hal and Superman had their way then the DC universe would be even more messed up then the reboot.