Batman’s dead so Rip Hunter tasks Booster with busting into the Batcave and retrieving the photographs that prove he’s a time fixer. Quite why it would be so bad were any of Batman’s strictly street-level enemies to find them isn’t explained, but it sets up a confrontation between Booster and new Batman Dick Grayson. They have a little fight, Booster reveals all about his efforts to save Barbara Gordon from the Joker and someone else enters the fray – Black Beetle, future villain and present dullard. Honestly, this isn’t an interesting guy; he blasts at heroes and disappears into the timestream, only to return in future and do it again. Booster needs to have a big can of Raid ready for his next appearance.
There’s a cliffhanger, though we’re talking molehill rather than Dover here – it’s the same sort of thing we’ve seen issue after issue. Dan Jurgens is at least as good a writer as he is an artist – and he’s a pretty decent artist – but he really needs to be steered away from the Quantum Leaping that was this book’s initial hook. (And no, I didn’t say the same thing last month – time travel means I haven’t written that load of blather yet.)
So, not the most exciting of Booster stories. Thank goodness, then, for new back-up boy Blue Beetle. In an apparent bid to bring Beetle fans up to speed, Booster’s strip is exposition heavy as regards his current MO and the courtesy is returned here – Beetle’s set-up is given in an efficient three panels, with the rest of the story showing Jaime Reyes in action. We’re reintroduced to best mates Paco and Brenda, a giant robot is thumped and a mystery is born. Matt Sturges’ script contains all the ingredients that made the Blue Beetle solo title so delightful – fun relationships, smart but not smart-arse dialogue, action aplenty, an alien suit of surprises and the acknowledgement that it’s not just the good guys who leave a legacy. One detail that tickled me was Jaime and chums dressing up to visit a convict – they’re such respectful young people. Oh, and new Beetle artists Mike Norton and Norm Rapmund (he inks Booster’s strip too, you know) produce excellent giant robots
I was a bit sniffy about the idea of a second feature in Booster Gold but on the strength of this performance, Blue Beetle will keep me buying a book I’m losing interest in. Job’s a good ‘un, as we say in the UK.