Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Christmas adds as a backround

So apparently the new 52 has Christmas issues or at least two that I know of. Not sure if it's considered a spoiler but I heard Batgirl has one this month and though I haven't bought it yet I know Superboy does. Not that I expect them to focus much on the holiday in these issues but this reminded me of all the books that I read that had the holidays used as either a focus of the issue or something in the backround. Since I don't feel like skimming through my collection to find all my Holiday back issues I'll just focus on a couple. (BTW one story I remember ironically has Spider-Man fighting against Mephisto to save the spirit of Christmas and returns home safely to his loving wife Mary Jane.) 

The two I chose were Booster Gold stories of course. While Christmas is happening in the story it's not the focus but it does provide a backdrop, helping create a certain mood in each story that's completely different than the other one. And yes they were both written and drawn by the same person: Dan Jurgens. (What did you think I was going to do something from the 90's?)

The first is from volume one issue 15 released in the festive time of, umm, April. Booster has traveled back to his time where it's snowy and in this issue has Christmas decorations up. Apparently blowing bubbles in different colors will also be a seasonal tradition as well. Citizens discuss the news report of Michael Carter being caught thinking he deserves to pay for stealing a time machine. There's a tree up in Michelles' apartment when she hear the news that her brother is sentenced to death. The story it's self has a lot of sober moments with Boosters' old life and new one clashing. The people of his time, including Broderick, all think deserves to be punished. Rip and Soo are depressed to learn that the world is going to suffer through a nuclear war (though there's a great fight scene they share.) 

But despite the odds there's hope because Booster has people who are loyal and truly care about him. Michelle breaks several laws to spring her brother. She puts his mind at ease with the knowledge that she and their mother knew who he'd become and are proud of him. Booster is forgiven by his family because Skeets gave the greatest gift of all: proof Michael Jon Carter became Booster Gold. Reunited with his sister Booster returns to the past but he's also learned something along the way. Before fleeing to his time to save his life Booster debated with a nurse over his deeds. She called into question if his actions for charity were in fact noble if all it did was promote him since he got the credit for it. In disguise Booster donates food for her shelter. Shocked she comments that it's like an early Christmas present (the gang kind of ended up a few months after they left.) With only his Legion Flight ring giving away his identity Booster says that for some of us it seems like Christmas was just yesterday. 

I loved this arc but one thing that always impressed me with this series was how Jurgens didn't make things too obvious. He didn't act like the readers were dumb by heavy handedly repeatedly remarking that the Carter family was poor. It's there in the art when they visited his old home earlier in the arc. Booster evolution is shown in a subtle way through various selfless acts he treats as nothing important. That's not to say he comes off as a saint, he still has his flaws. But this shows that he's deeper than anyone suspects. The themes of this story was: redemption, forgiveness and sacrifice. 

The next one is in the second series though just a brief scene at the very end of the arc. This was of course the Day of Death arc. I loved this storyline for a lot of reasons but one of the things that I found so compelling about it was the underlined question of identity. This opening asks who Rip Hunter and Black Beetle are but it also calls into question who Batman and Booster Gold are to each other. Because this Batman isn't the one Booster is used to dealing with, it's Dick Grayson. The dynamics are different as both men try to deal with what their lives are like without Bruce. While other stories deal with what the loss of a mentor means to Dick this has him admitting the weight of the cowl and what it means (as well as Damian.) It has him needing a reminder. Of who he is, not Batman. Why he does what he does.

With Booster it's a struggle to keep playing the fool when the only person that knows who he really is can't be there for him when he needs him. It's not the same as with Bruce because while Dick has an idea Bruce knows who Booster is. But at the end it gives him the support he desperately needs and Dick gets his reminder by getting the best gift a time traveler can give: a chance to relive a happy moment. Dick sees his parents and himself as a child celebrating Christmas. It's not entirely happy since they both know nothing can change but Dick accepts that. The memory is enough for him and he values what Booster does. Great character moments with only the slightest bit of holiday cheer.

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