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Booster’s only interest, however, is getting back into the Justice League.
Unfortunately, the League isn’t exactly trusting of his motives, so they give him one week to prove himself.
After the week is up and Booster does indeed show his abilities to be a genuine hero, the League grants him membership.
When his newly minted JLA Certificate of Membership turns into a death writ for Hal Jordan, the “Greatest Green Lantern,” Booster realizes that something is screwy in the time stream, so it’s back to Rip Hunter, the Time Master, to help set things right.
Booster does have a price, though: He wants to save his best friend, Ted Kord, AKA the Blue Beetle. After a brief argument about solidified time and that some things are just meant to be, Rip relents and agrees.
Side note: Pay close attention to Rip’s notes scribbled on the chalkboards, as all sorts of clues are dropped for bigger DCU events!
As it turns out, there’s someone trying to get rid of the world’s greatest heroes by messing with their pasts and this culprit has stolen the Supernova costume from Daniel Carter, Booster’s modern-day ancestor.
This leads to Booster and Rip hopping through time in order to stop the temporal manipulations.
It’s a fun study of the origin stories of some of the big names in the DC Universe.
A side plot involves Daniel Carter and Rose Levin, the couple who would start the Carter line leading to Michael Jon Carter, or as we know him, Booster Gold.
With Geoff Johns at the helm, the interaction between Booster and a pre-renegade Sinestro is a treat. Sinestro is told by “a future-dweller” that Guy Gardner of Earth will be his student one day and will surpass him as the “Greatest Green Lantern.” Incredulous, Sinestro seeks Guy out, but that early interaction would mean Hal Jordan would never be chosen by the ring.
So not only does Booster have to stop Sinestro from meeting Guy, he also has to make sure that Guy leaves California so he is not closer to Abin Sur’s crash site and that the ring actually does go to Hal. There are some very good characterization elements here and a really touching scene with Booster and Guy in chatting at a bar.
With Hal’s status as Green Lantern saved, the JLA Memberships Certificate changes from a death certificate for Hal Jordan to a death certificate for Superman. However rather than messing with a young Kal-El, the culprit shows a higher level of mastery over the time stream and a greater understanding of the butterfly effect than Rip was expecting.
The culprit has decided to go after the country doctor who would deliver Jonathan Kent’s great grandfather to ensure that the baby does not survive and the Kents aren’t around to discover the baby Kal-El when he crashes, but one Lionel Luther is. This shows very intricate planning, focusing on a seemingly inconsequential event, but letting the ripple effect take hold to cause larger repercussions down the line.
And of course, the icing on the cake is the identity of the hired gun: Jonah Hex.
The culprit makes one more attempt on a classic member of the Justice League, the Flash. And we’re not talking Jay Garrick or Wally West, here, oh no. It’s the big man, Barry Allen, in a storyline that whets our appetite for this classic character who has long been dead in the DC Universe. It’s during this plot that the identity of the culprit in the Supernova costume is finally revealed.
The reveal introduces a trio of DC Universe baddies set up to be the antagonists for our hero.
After settling everything with the Flashes, Booster is insistent that he goes to rescue the Blue Beetle, but Rip says there is one more person to save: Barbara Gordon was never supposed to be paralyzed and should have always been Batgirl, never Oracle.
After failing and almost getting himself killed multiple times, Rip reveals the truth about solidified time.
The present and back cannot be changed.
Upon showing Booster that the ever-changing death certificate has reverted back to Booster’s JLA Membership Certificate, Rip lands the point of the lesson: Booster cannot save Ted Kord from his fate.
At that exact moment, though, three Blue Beetles burst into Rip’s Time Lab: Dan Garret (Ted’s precursor), Jaime Reyes (Ted’s successor), and a Blue Beetle claiming he is from the distant future. The future Blue Beetle claims that Booster must save Ted Kord in order to maintain the time stream and Booster leaves with the Beetles in spite of Rip’s pleading.
It all wraps up in a satisfying fashion, setting up the perfect team-up in the next volume.
You get these little moments of “Oh, hey, it’s this guy, or that gal!” and “Oh, I remember reading the original version of this story!” The time traveling aspect also raises other questions such as “What if someone notices Booster, or recognizes him later?”
The astute observers will notice little hints of recognition in some characters as they read and that really the most fun aspect: Like with Rip hunter’s notes scribbled on his chalkboard, there’s no such thing as a minor detail in the world of Booster Gold.
The collection includes full covers (variants too!) as shown with the Joker illustration to the left.
An excellent start to this series!
It’s a fun encountering many characters from the DCU – big and small. Geoff Johns drops quite a few hints for future events (Final Crisis, Blackest Night, New Krypton, etc.) and Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens is back at it without missing a beat.
Most importantly, it’s classic time travel storytelling done right!
This being the first collected volume in Booster Gold’s break-out series, it lays the foundation for his adventures yet to come, as well as the ones that already happened. Isn’t time travel fun, kids?
A must read for those interested in the character, or all the unexplored nooks and crannies in the DCU.
If you’re looking for classic Booster stories, you can always check out Showcase Presents: Booster Gold, previously reviewed. His origin and entire original series is contained in that book.
As a precursor to reading this book, I highly recommend (in this order) Countdown to Infinite Crisis: The OMAC Project, Infinite Crisis, and 52, especially 52 Vol. 1 and 52 Vol. 2, but I suggest reading 52 Vol. 3 and 52 Vol. 4 as well. It looks like a big commitment, but 52 is quality storytelling – you’d be missing out if you pass it up.
You can read the other books from the 52 list, but I don’t think they’re that essential; World War III is referenced in this trade, but only in passing. Infinite Crisis was a big event and you may want to read all the tie ins, but they aren’t necessary to enjoy this book.
Besides than that, a passing familiarity with the DCU would help; since this becomes a time-hopping story, Booster interacts with a lot of different characters.
Other reading suggested by Ian: