Justice League International joins Booster and Michelle is in peril as the series prepares to wrap up.
Michelle Carter/Goldstar 2: You just can't ever be subtle, can you?
Booster Gold: Absolutely not! It's one of my better traits!
Skeets: That's debatable.
OLDER SPOILER AHEAD
Titled: "Tortured Options"
We're where we were last issue with the cocky invader giving Booster the sadistic choice of saving his sister or innocent lives. I suppose this would be a cliché in most comics but this actually works really well for a character like Booster who is usually defined by outsiders as a selfish person. He could go with his own wishes to save Michelle and no one would ever know about it. The heroic choice would be to save the endangered citizens. He tries to take a third option by once again making a death threat but the invader isn't impressed and says killing him won't help him find his sister. Booster decides to help her when Skeets points out the Spock like theme of the needs of many outweighing the needs of the few. Not wanting to listen Booster claims Michelle and him come first but realizes he doesn't really believe that.
He's a hero and part of the JLI and that means a lot to him. Changing his mind Booster leaves Skeets in charge of finding Michelle and goes to stop the monster himself. Said monster becomes less impressive once he fights it to discover it's made out of putty. Yes it still put lives in danger but it takes the threat out of the situation by making the big danger walking playdoh. Booster knows he can figure out how to win but he doesn't have time to waste and knows that now is the time to call in his buddies for help. Meanwhile Skeets finds Michelle noting that she'd be dead if it wasn't for her power suit. He releases her but her ordeal has made her weak.
JLI shows up with Mr. Miracle, Captain Atom, J'onn, and Red Rocket (the one before Dmitri *wink Manhunter wink*) helping Booster. In the Bug Ted complains to Black Canary that their not doing anything while Guy watches from the window. Guy is in his "nice" phrase which Ted thinks makes it wrong to toss him into battle. (Why bring him along then?) Back at BGI some unknown figure accesses Boosters' accounts.
The fight rages on with J'onn coming up with a plan once he finds out the creature isn't living. To sum up Booster goes inside, makes his forcefield expand and the thing pops. Good thing it works instead of making legions of mini putty creatures. Anyway Michelle is having a rough time trying to escape in her exhausted state. Booster arrives just before they can kill her much to her relief. I mentioned last time that getting the Titans wouldn't have changed the outcome and here's why. Only one person could use the teleporter to get into Dimension X so no one could follow him in. There's more teleporters IN Dimension X to allow more out but there's no way to bring anyone else inside. Keep in mind that JLI has some incredible tech guys too so if they couldn't come through there was no way having the TT along would have changed that. Here's where things start to unravel.
Realizing the invaders are about to attack Earth Booster decides to stop them before getting Michelle home. He berates himself knowing she's tired but there's not much he can do if he wants to prevent loss of life. At Skeets advice he stops the process by shooting the blinking red lit power source. The problem that they realize too late is that not only does doing so stop the invasion it also started a domino effect on the whole structure collapsing. They make it to one of the teleporters with the place falling apart around them when Booster realizes it's set to receive people rather than sending them. He offers to fix it when Michelle puts her foot down. Her argument is sound since his forcefield can keep the gateway in one piece and she's seen the invaders work the system. I didn't think of this before reading this again but this sort of mirrors the future arc. Back then Booster got Michelle and the others onto the time platform preparing to potentially sacrifice his chances at returning to the past to make the damaged machine work to save them. This time Michelle is the one in the heroic role, even more so since she's half dead.
Michelle puts the right setting on and just as she's turning to leave debris falls on the machinery causing an explosion. Booster watches in horror as it hits her and the force pushes Skeets and him through the gateway. The other side breaks once he's through and all Booster has left of his sister is a scrap of the Goldstar uniform that came through the portal. A day later he has a funeral for Michelle with the JLI present (including Batman) as well as his friends. Although Mac acts bitchy due to being a red herring. Dr. Fate sends the tombstone into a void since they can't get the body to bury and even if they did it wouldn't feel right doing so in the past. Yeah even time traveler funerals are confusing. More so when you realize this means the twins will have two funerals each thanks to Rip and the events in 52.
Trixie tries to comfort him which doesn't work well since he blames himself and thinks things would be better for everyone if he was alone. Walking off Trixie wonders what's going on especially since she saw Booster the day before when he was supposed to be on the mission with the JLI to save Michelle and stop the monster. This is in fact the lead in to next issue's Superman tie in.
Overall: I wish Michelle was built up more if this death had to happen. I think Jurgens did some nice work with what he was given to make her a realistic character. (Although more could have been done if the Rainbow Raider stuff didn't happen. Just saying.) This also would have meant more if more would have been made out of her death after this series ended. But few writers seemed to have actually read this series to research Booster so it only had one or two mentions (by Jurgens) outside of this until Geoff Johns brings her up in CTIC. Which really comes off weird because the JLI are actually at the funeral but Ted's death ended up getting a far more emotional arc. But since he's a twin it likely would have fallen into the comic clichés like going insane, being a villain or something along those lines. I do remember reading one essay about Booster stating how being a twin affected him and from a meta point of view it could explain his strong bond with Ted.
The text boxes state that losing a twin is like losing part of yourself. Ted become his business partner, best friend and brother-in-arms. If you think about it they act more like cliché twins than Booster and Michelle ever do. When he's not with Ted then Skeets is his partner. For a time in 52 it was Rip Hunter. The thing is Booster may be a solo hero but he feels more comfortable around someone else, a void another twin would fill. Speaking of Ted in case you were wondering about vol. 2 when Johns/Katz have Booster recounting his past and it showing Ted comforting him during the funeral? That does not happen, all of the JLI except Dr. Fate (who sends the headstone into another dimension) stay a respectable distance away. Trixie is the only one that tries to be there for him emotionally but it's nevertheless a nice retcon.
As for Michelles' death on the one hand it is a fridging on the other he still handles it better than most. When the moment comes it's not at the hand of a bad guy to torment Booster. It's a simple accident that happens while she's doing something risky to save their lives. I don't think I ever saw a death like it and as a result it's more original than most. That makes it sort of surprising because with the usual set ups it comes unexpected just when you think their home free. Booster himself gets to go through a good variety of moments in the two-parter. He gets to be petty with the TT, selfish, terrified for his sister but in the end pretty damn heroic. Often he's cast off as the fool or a pretty lighthearted character when that's not really the case. His backstory is more tragic than Ted's and there's a lot of pain over it. Yet Ted was taken more seriously by fans while Booster was usually written off as a clown. There's one thing that bugged me in this issue and that was the break in the mood.
That was caused by the corny threat of the monster who makes comical faces and the fact it was made of putty. That took away from the tension Booster was feeling. I'm not saying humor can't happen but when it's the threat that made him leave his sister to protect innocents I kind of need it to be a little more dire. Especially when the way it was defeated made the JLI seem a little pointless. The invaders themselves were pretty forgettable but at least they were menacing due to their treatment of Michelle. Next up the Superman half of the Man of Steel's Booster Gold crossover.
Say What?: Interesting to note that Jurgens has Booster saying "my needs....Michelle's needs...come first." With emphasis on "my" and "Michelle's." While Booster does love his sister at the moment he thinks about what's important to him, which is saving her life. It underlines that while his intention to save her is noble the desire is still selfish compared to the people the monster is attacking.
Ted refers to Guy having amnesia but I don't think that's how his "nice" persona worked.
I know Scott Free is a well known performer but should he really be thinking about dropping a woman off in a boom tube because she rather be saved by Booster since she thinks he's sexy? You're married Scott, to a woman that could take on the monster herself. You have little room to be grouchy.
Why does Trixie assume Booster is hiding some dark secret since he denied being the person she saw? The JLI likely back him up and she knows about shape shifters, etc. right? Michelle just died so how does she think both happened at once? Sheesh have some more faith in him.
I know Dinah was joking about the bad weather being Batmans' thing but she's lucky this wasn't one of his books or she'd get the ultimate bat glare for thinking she meant his "scene" was a funeral.
Did You Notice?: There's a cross on the headstone so I guess Michelle and Michael are Catholic although religions could still change in their time.