Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Booster Gold #18 (Volume 1)

It's time for my favorite issue of  BG. vol. 1 which also happens to be the reason I like Broderick.


Title: "Showdown"

Before I get into the meat of the story I'll just brush up on some minor details. Jurgens has said that he hasn't released all the details of Boosters' past in print which he planned on using for later stories. Many of which still haven't been done including the origin of sections of his costume that didn't come from Brainy 5. Another detail is the how and why of Boosters' unarmed combat skills which Jurgens has stated was something Booster was interested in learning. This is perhaps the only time the Corporate Cursader has been seen doing gymnastics although Jurgens sometimes throws in some details in the art later on. Let's just say Dick Grayson would be impressed with the skill shown here. To his credit Jurgens even writes in how the comfy lifestyle Booster lives has caused him to slack off enough to gain weight. Yep he gained weight but unlike Ted it was only a couple of pounds and he works it off right away.The supporting characters gel better at this stage making their banter feel more sincere. Well I suppose that closeness doesn't hold true for still newish Jack Soo but his panicked reaction to Boosters' annoyance is pretty amusing.

This is my favorite issue for a number of reasons. Most of the story is narrated by Broderick, and outside a few voice over text boxes and flashbacks there isn't much POV storytelling in the series. This is the most the readers ever get to see into a bad guys' head which makes him far more compelling than the Director. While Broderick came off as a forgettable overly obsessed jerk in his past appearances this issue makes him pretty damn human. The closest the Director came was his concern for one of his men but Broderick is seen hanging out with his friends. Playing cards, going to football games, just acting like a normal guy. He rises above the other villains because of this and is one of the few--if not only--foes to be something other than one note. The easiest comparison for his character is to Javert of Les MisĂ©rables although Booster is a less saintly version of Jean Valjean since his crimes (even with the later retcons) were motivated by greed.

He's like Javert in his obsession with his quarry and need to uphold the law although there are some noticeable differences. While some of his off hours are shown there's still a lot we don't learn about him. Does he have a family? Did he grow up poor? Why does he feel so strongly about the law? Never explored (outside Booster believing he has family) but it doesn't need to be, at least not here. Broderick also gives the most insight on the 25th century as he compares the two time periods. Where Boosters' trip to the past was one of wonder and at times goofy because of his innocent misunderstandings Broderick is sickened by what he see. This is another layer that's not outright spelled out but I love it all the same. During their last meeting Booster said he belonged in the past. We know it's true because of history stating it and the fact he enjoys it. Broderick on the other hand represents the future, the strict laws and uncompromising morals. To him the past is nonsensical, impractical, wasteful and utterly ridiculous.

In short it's the same way he feels about Booster.

No really it is, Broderick refuses to even refer to him as anything but his surname because he finds the superhero business so absurd. Another perfect example is his reaction to seeing Boosters' commercial. He's an outsider but unlike Booster he can't see the positive and feels frustrated. As a reader you can kind of see his point with how wasteful we are and his thoughts actually make you rethink things from past issues. Like firearms being illegal makes Michelles' recuse even more daring since she turned up with one. No one eats meat meaning Booster likely made himself sick getting used to it in the past to fit in and do sponsorship deals.

The most unexpected thing, something else that sets him apart of Javert, is that Broderick admired Booster when he was a quarterback. Things went south once news of the scandal broke with most think Booster deserved to be treated like dirt. Some going as far as saying he should get a lethal injection. Broderick felt just as betrayed as the others which is the crux of his hate. Sure he's a lawman but he takes this personally even though he didn't actually know Booster at this stage. Perhaps a shattered image of a hero? I mean he was a fan even though he rooted for another team. How could he feel betrayed (like the general public apparently felt) unless he was disappointed in someone he saw greatness in? Another interesting note is that for all his talk of his hate for Booster once the scandal breaks he's seen gambling while playing cards. I love the irony there, yeah it's different for players but it's still the same vice.
But the obsession doesn't actually set in until Booster steals from the museum. In fact Broderick actually forgot about him until then. Having the chance to make sure Booster pays for his crimes only fuels his hate which lead to his behavior in the future arc.

After recapping how he ended up where he is the fight between the two begins. Booster is very resourceful in this and fights smart while being unarmed. That doesn't mean that Broderick isn't a threat, in fact he manages to gain the upper hand enough to have his prey at gun point. To Boosters' credit he tries reasoning with him admitting to his crimes but talking about all the good he does. Not to mention he's the only one that can get Broderick home. As if to prove a point a gunshot goes off. He tells our obsessed cop that he's going to stop the robbery and if Broderick cares for what his job represents he won't stop him. I keep forgetting some of the more adult things Jurgens put in and I kind of wish he didn't have an attempted rape in this. Booster steps in to stop it before handling the robbery which makes it thankful brief. Jurgens does make it unsettling in the art and satisfying to see the imprint of the Legion Flight Ring on the attempted rapist face.

Broderick joins in on the fight which means this has in fact turned into a team up. Much to his surprise he finds himself impressed with Booster. When it's over Booster hands him back his laser gun and gives him two choices. Either let him help send Broderick back or Broderick can shoot him when he walks away. I've given this some thought because logicially he has no reason to even give these options. The police are on his side and surrounding them. They could kill Broderick yes but not before he shoots Booster. While Broderick didn't shoot him before that doesn't mean he won't then. So I don't think this is something like a trust exercise I think he's literally putting his life in the other mans' hands. Because Broderick sort of represents his past coming back to haunt him and he's the only one that can really judge him. Maybe even give him a shot at redemption by proving he can make a difference and then he can even help Broderick out. If not then he's dead.

It's one of the many reasons I loathed the retcon Giffin/DeMatteis put in their Booster Gold run. Not only does it make Brodericks' character unneeded it undermines the corruption of the 25th century that made it impossible for Booster to pay for his crimes and completely missed the point of scenes like this. The reason he couldn't take responsibility was because stealing a time sphere equaled death without a trial. But you know what? Booster is still leaving that option open by handing a weapon back to a man he knows wants to kill him. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying he has a deathwish. In fact he actually says that he half panicked when he expected to be shot in the back before when he went to stop the robbery. I'm just saying that Booster still tries to do the right thing going as far as leaving his fate up to the only person he could answer to that's in authority.

As Booster starts to walk away Broderick lifts his gun feeling a little conflicted. He still wants to shoot and feels that their always be at odds with each other. But maybe Booster does belong in the past. In the end he can't pull the trigger but chooses a third option by walking away rather than ask for help. His final thoughts before leaving are perfect for both characters as he thinks that sometimes you just have to find your own way.

Overall: This was a great look from another perspective and works as a good counterpoint to Boosters' own trip to the past. Broderick reminds him off his past sins and has some depth sorely missing from other bad guys. Well if you can refer to him as such, I do because of his behavior in the future arc and he sort of remains in that block until the end of this issue. He murdered Animal (although only Trixie seemed to see him as human) and seemed ready to do the same to anyone that got in his way. The guy has flaws, his hatred that blinds him to all else, potential greed with his gambling (though not to Boosters' extent), arrogance and his pride leaves him stranded.

If you told me that I would like this character back when he was chasing Booster I wouldn't have believed you. In general there's not much to the people Booster fights against in this series and that's always been my biggest issue after the editorial mandate at the end. I really think this is some of Jurgens best writing and for the most part I believe he did excellent work on the first volume. In one issue he made me care about a character that I previously wrote off as another hammy villain. If I had to chose a character to return from this series in another Booster Gold book by Jurgens I'm not sure who I'd want more. Trixie or Broderick. I'm not even kidding about that because there's so much potential that's never used. Comics can be a lot of things but I love when they really make you think when they do character pieces like this. If only Broderick returned, he would have been amazing to see during Boosters' Time Master period in vol. 2. Can you imagine him finding out the truth or them fighting against each other or even teaming up again?

Questions Raised?: It's not mentioned here and I don't think it ever occurs to Broderick but wouldn't his actions of going back in time be illegal? No one is supposed to go to the past to change it yet he does. If anyone bothered to read up on Booster they'd know he was supposed to be there and Broderick was putting that at risk. Or the people he helps save might have died and from his POV wouldn't it mean that both of them were changing time?

What got shot? The men brought the woman into the store, she wasn't injured from a gun so was that a warning shot? They do it again in the store with nothing apparently affected.

Did You Notice?: The coloring for Brodericks' text box narration isn't always the same color which can lead to confusion if you're not expecting it.

Broderick shoots one of the men so did he die? What about that guy that crashed into a pole?

Say What?: According to Broderick the government brought football back fifty years prior to Boosters' quarterback days.

Although Broderick claims he refuses to call Michael Carter by his new name he still refers to him as Booster Carter in the flashback. Granted Booster was simply a football nickname back then but he claimed the reason he didn't use it was because it was pompous.

It's been stated that the cops pestered Michelle and Mrs. Carter after Booster stole the time machine. Now it's confirmed that it was Broderick that kept showing up meaning Michelle has interacted with him the most, granted off panel.

I will admit that despite this being a good story Boosters' "knows how to excite his women" statement made me roll my eyes. You're supposed to be smooth Booster.

Not really mentioned here outside wondering if a squad of police came for him but in a previous issue Booster worried about time cops. Although Broderick follows him back he seemed surprised so I don't think this is part of the job. Maybe he meant people like the Linear Men? They do come into play with Boosters' story just not here. I may cover that storyline at some point.


  1. I've heard some great things about these books, and that Broderick was a well-fleshed out character and worthy foe. That's actually a GOOD thing!

  2. It really is. I think after Maxs' portrayal in Generation Lost Broderick is the second most compelling bad guy for Booster. Then Black Beetle and so forth.

    Broderick really should have been seen after this issue.