I'm still undecided about what tie ins I'll do but I felt like looking over this issue so here we are.
OLDER SPOILERS AHEAD
Title: "Dream of Terror"
One would think I'd hate this story since it has a lot going against it. I really didn't care for the lead into this last issue and I mentioned some of my feelings for the Cheshire and Hawk. I'll get into this a little more here to explain why I think things work and why they don't. As I said last time Cheshire is a character I'm usually indifferent towards. The only thing I ever found interesting about her is her relationship with Roy Harper and their daughter Lian. They make her want to be a better person, she truly loved Lian and depending on the writer Roy was the first (only?) man she ever loved. That created friction and made her compelling. But having a life with them would never work out because that's not who she is. Cheshire has always been a ruthless assassin and the wrong woman for Roy. Even she realized that enough to give him custody of Lian. The fighting style of attacking with poisoned nails isn't something that works for me either.
I know she's supposed to be sexual and deadly but I just can't take her seriously in either respects especially in this costume. It always ruined her creditability as a villain in my eyes. Not just that it's retro and in my opinion an ugly design--but watching her sneak around in this green schemed impractical thing is hilarious if you think about it. The same could be said about Hawk but at least his made more sense as the costume came from a magical source. He didn't get much of a say in that design. Hank Hall is one of those characters I think I could honestly hate if I read enough about him. At present I don't have any characters I loath but I do dislike him in pretty much everything I read That being said he's actually more sympathetic here which in it's self is a feat. This takes place after the Crisis (*1) so Hank is still grieving the loss of his brother and partner in crime fighting Don Hall/Dove. Now you'd think this automatically make the reader feel sorry for him but really it depends on how he's written. There's an arc in Teen Titans (I may review it at some point) where he acts like a raving lunatic that should be locked up with the Joker. While he's still pig headed and dumb in this at least his heart's in the right place. Well he thinks it is, it's questionable.
Cheshire breaks in to a biotech lab that we learn from a somewhat clunky dialogue exchange belongs to Booster. She's too late to steal a formula but even though nothing was missing from her break in Booster takes the wounded and dead guards very seriously. He seems to be keeping his promise to be more responsible which will be forgotten once the series ends but still nice to see. They piece together that Cheshire was after something created by a scientist named Babich and track him to Mexico. Babich takes Hank around to show him how horrible poverty is to convince him further of his plans. This is what may turn readers off to this issue as it comes off a little preachy. Believe me it's not as bad as the PSA other books turn these topics into. Nevertheless it's still a odd choice for the plot since so much is determined on Babichs' beliefs and him winning Hank over effortlessly. I have to question why he had to get a superhero to help him. Yes he needed protection but he could have hired people especially since he doesn't tell Hank the whole truth. Babich claims the formula will reduce the birth rate so only the "fit" will be born. Then talks about a superior race coming from that.
How does that not raise warning bells? I mean I never took Hawk for a deep thinking type but he's a freaking superhero. Say that this was all on the level the way he thinks it is. What their basically saying is that they went to Mexico to spread a chemical that will make people sterile. Let that set in for awhile and comprehend just what that means. That in it's self is rather horrifying and well arrogant for them to place themselves as the ones that should be making these choices. Then comes the whole "fit" thing, what does Hawk think it means? That the virus will know who's "fit" or just people with certain genetics? Granted in the past some of his comments have been sorta like brain damaged Guy Gardner only without the charm or tact. This is extreme and he really thinks it's for the best. I guess I feel bad for him because I know he just lost Don although that doesn't affect the plot much, besides it being mentioned as the inspiration for Hawks' actions. I appreciate that Jurgens didn't make Hawk as annoying as most do. But he's still unbelievably thickheaded, in character, but still nerve grating. Sometimes it reads like Babich is practically spelling it out that he has bad intentions but Hawk is just like "sounds reasonable."
The reason their in Mexico of course is because Babich sees the poor people there as undesirables that offer nothing to the world that he wants to be rid of. Jack Soo figures out that with the weather pattern and the location the bacteria will spread but miss the US. While Booster searches in Mexico Trixie muses on them getting more help. Trixie has some of the best thoughts and I'm always amused by them. Dirk flirts with her offering to let her treat them to dinner (just what every girl wants to hear) which she goes along with because why not?
Just as Hawk is about to release the bacteria Cheshire drops in to take it away. Her casual mention of selling the bacteria to the Russians starts the usual commie spiel from Hawk. Not sure why that outrages him or why he'd call her a traitor. Cheshire has no real alliances then again this is keeping in character. In the TT arc I mentioned I recall him being far too eager to try to kill some Russians. Anyway she takes the canister away and Booster shows up to save the fallen hero. Booster is pretty hard on him and in my other readings I always wondered at this. I mean yeah he's right, Hawk was a idiot for getting involved but you wouldn't think he'd be this pissed off. But putting this in context with the rest of the series and JLI helps. The Corporate Crusader has had a lot of bumps in the road by this point and has learned from his experience. Booster jumped to a conclusion with the Z situation based on his emotions without considering the whole picture. Hawk basically did the same thing and I really think that bugs the hell out of Booster.
No one is as hard on him as he is and seeing those traits in someone else really has to eat at him. Especially since so many lives are at stake. Booster's still a rookie at this point where Hawk has been doing this for at least a couple more years. He should know better as part of a legendary team like the Titans, Hawk doesn't live up to those standards. While Superman was a jerk at least he knew what he was doing. This also takes place after Booster joined JLI so he'd feel more of a need to be responsible and see world issues from another POV.
Babich dies from his own creation as the canister drops leaving Booster to deal with Cheshire, the Russian, Hawk and the threat of Babichs' creation. Booster contains it in his forcefield and asks Cheshire for the antidote to cure a poisoned Hawk. She claims she doesn't need one but he calls her bluff since logically she'd need it in case she accidently scratched herself. This is where Booster brings up the threat of murder against the bad guys saying he'll do it if she doesn't give Hawk the antidote. She doesn't believe him and he says that no one will report him if he did. The deadly virus wouldn't prove anything and well, at this point there's really nothing to suggest he wouldn't do it. She says she will only hand it over if he agrees to let them go. Hawk acts more moronic by telling Cheshire to get away from him as she gets him to drink the antidote because she's a "commie lover."
The Russian think Booster is a glory hound out to make a buck and offers him a fee for handing over the deadly bacteria. He says that no one would ever know he sold it (umm Hawk is still alive so they would know anyway) but Booster prompts rejects the idea. He--Chordonov (the Russian) doesn't see why Booster's not on board since his life style makes him a sell out anyway. Booster fries the bacteria into harmless ash then punches Chorodonov for daring to compare him to Cheshire. Not thrilled with any of them he leaves the baddies and Hawk to fly off when Hawk points out their in the middle of no where. Still disgusted Booster tells Hawk they can crawl home like a worm.
I don't hate this issue, it's not as strong as I remember but it's certainly not terrible. I can understand if you don't like this one because of the plot. There are flaws but I mainly enjoyed the ending. Just Boosters' attitude when Chorodonov suggests the idea of him selling something that could kill people makes this memorable. His threat to murder the bad guys is likewise something that will stick out. The third thing will likely be how crappy he treats Hawk although I can't say I entirely fault him on that. Both Hawk and Cheshire work for the roles required of them. Hawk is the hotheaded guy that Booster was during his meeting with Superman. He shows how much Booster has grown but likewise brings out a surprising anger in him. Cheshire technically could have been anyone else but she worked as a person that's only in it for the money with little concern for anything else. They highlighted his character and I think that works. The killer bacteria plot was the weakest part, at least the idea of Babich convincing Hawk was. I think I just don't get the reasoning for getting him to help from Babichs' POV. Still Booster was a smart and effective hero and I can't complain about that.
*1 A good way to know is because Booster Gold is the first character created after the Crisis. So if he exists you know it already happened.
Say What?: Some people tend to forget how adult Jurgens can be. I never read anything he's done that's outright crude (at least that I can remember at the moment) but he still implies things. Like a married woman (Sherri) commenting to a friend that she'd give anything to spend a night with Booster. I also bring this up because people tend to forget he's a stud. (Looking at you Giffin/DeMatteis.)
Cheshire comments on the poor security but she still had her image captured. Reckless much?
I don't know if I'd say Cheshire was "unbeatable" at hand to hand combat. She was always good but she was never in Shivas' league, which is why she relied on her poisons.
While Booster refers to Hawk as a "loony" connected to the TT is funny in hindsight given his evil persona I like to think history just referred to him as crazy prior to that.
Skeets says that Mexico City in 2462 will be incredible.
Questions Raised?: Why did Hawk have to dress up in uniform to spread the bacteria?
Wouldn't Babich and Hawk die from the bacteria they spread?