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By Thomas Wheeler

Mattel's increasingly impressive series of DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figures continues, and is it any great surprise that two of the figures in one particular assortment would be friend Blue Beetle -- and BOOSTER GOLD!

Booster Gold. An odd name, one has to admit. It's a name that in and of itself can't be taken entirely seriously. It doesn't quite have the same impressive sound to it as Batman, or Superman, or Green Lantern, or Flash, nor does it seem to have any particularly descriptive qualities.

So just who is Booster Gold?

Created by Dan Jurgens, he first appeared in Booster Gold (vol. 1) #1 (February 1986) and has been a member of the Justice League, DC Comics' all-star team of heroes. The character is initially depicted as a glory-seeking showboat from the future, using knowledge of historical events and futuristic technology to stage high-publicity heroics. Booster develops over the course of his publication history and through personal tragedies to become a hero weighed down by the reputation he has created for himself.

Booster Gold was the first significant new character introduced into DC Universe continuity after the reboot of Crisis on Infinite Earths. The next year, he began to appear regularly in the Justice League series of comics, remaining a team member until the group was disbanded in 1996 to make way for the new line-up introduced in the Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare miniseries (and featured in the ongoing series JLA).

At the 2007 Wizard World: Los Angeles, Dan DiDio announced a new ongoing series titled All-New Booster Gold, which was later published as simply Booster Gold (vol. 2). The series follows the events of 52 and was initially co-written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, with art by creator Jurgens and Norm Rapmund. The series focuses primarily on Booster Gold's clandestine time travel within the DC Universe. The series also features Rip Hunter, Skeets, and Booster's ancestor Daniel Carter as supporting characters. The tagline of the series is: "The greatest hero the world has never known!"

Michael Jon Carter was born poor in the Gotham City of the 25th century. He and his twin sister Michelle never knew their father because he left after gambling away all their money. Luckily for Michael, he was a gifted athlete and he managed to get into Gotham University on a football scholarship. In college, Booster becomes a star quarterback with a bright future. His father then reenters his life and convinces him to bet on games and then throw them. He is exposed and his once bright future is shattered. He takes a job as a night watchman at the Metropolis Space Museum, where he begins to study displays about superheroes and villains from the past, particularly the 20th century. With the help of a security robot named Skeets, Michael steals devices from the museum displays, including a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring and Brainiac 5's force field belt. He uses Rip Hunter's time machine, also on display in the museum, to travel to the 20th century, intent on becoming a superhero and forming a corporation based around himself to make a comfortable living. As such, he is a shameless self-promoter whose obsession with fame and wealth irritates other heroes.

Carter's nickname as a football player was "Booster", but his chosen 20th century superhero name was "Goldstar". After saving the president, Carter mangles the two names, causing the president (at the time Ronald Reagan) to introduce him as "Booster Gold." The name stuck.

Booster Gold is originally based in Metropolis, the home city of Superman. He starts his hero career by preventing the shapeshifting assassin Chiller, an operative of The 1000, from killing the president of the United States and replacing him. With the public exposure he gains from this rescue, Booster is quickly able to sign a multitude of commercial and movie deals. During Booster's superhero career, his sister Michelle Carter, powered by a magnetic suit, follows in his footsteps as the superheroine Goldstar. She dies soon after while battling creatures from another dimension, leaving him devastated. Amassing a small fortune, Booster founds Goldstar, Inc. (later Booster Gold International) as a holding company and hires Dirk Davis to act as his agent. During the Millennium event, Davis reveals that he is a Manhunter in disguise and has siphoned money from Booster's accounts for months in hopes of leaving Booster no choice but to do the Manhunters' bidding. Although the Manhunters are ultimately defeated, Booster is left bankrupt.

Booster Gold is a key character in the late '80s/early '90s Justice League revamp by writers Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis. Booster Gold is frequently teamed with fellow Justice League member Blue Beetle, and the two quickly become best friends.

After one too many disgraces and longing for the reputation he once had, Booster quits the League to found The Conglomerate, a superhero team whose funding is derived from corporate sponsors. Booster and his team are determined to perform as legitimate heroes, but find that their sponsors compromise those values far too often. The Conglomerate reforms several times after Booster rejoins the League, though without much success.

When an alien of awesome power comes to Earth on a rampage, it is Booster Gold who coins the name Doomsday for it. In the ensuing battle with Doomsday, Booster's costume is destroyed. Blue Beetle is able to design a new (albeit bulkier) costume to replace it, although this costume often malfunctions.

After the Justice League falls apart, Booster Gold joins Extreme Justice, a team led by Captain Atom. Following the disbanding of Extreme Justice, Booster's then-current suit is destroyed. A new costume is created by Professor Hamilton, based on the designs of both the original 25th century costume and the energy containment suit Superman was wearing at this time. This costume is apparently later tweaked to resemble Booster's original costume more closely.

After the events depicted in the limited series Identity Crisis, in which Sue Dibny is murdered, Booster Gold hangs up his costume and retires from crimefighting only to once again assume the role to help Blue Beetle discover who is manipulating Kord Industries. Booster is badly injured in an explosion at Kord's home, and it is revealed that his companion Skeets has been dismantled for its 25th-century technology by the Checkmate organization.

In The OMAC Project limited series, Booster Gold gathers the old Justice League International heroes to investigate Blue Beetle's disappearance. At the series' end, he is ruined physically and emotionally, having destroyed much of his gear in the fight against the OMACs. He has seen his friend Rocket Red die in battle. He has discovered another friend, Maxwell Lord, is responsible for killing Blue Beetle and that in fact, Lord has always hated superheroes.

In a moment of self-reflection, he realizes that if only he had bothered to recall more of what was history in his native era, he might have been able to warn his friends. Giving a farewell kiss to the forehead of his wounded teammate Fire as she lay in a hospital bed, he drops his trademark goggles on the floor and leaves, saying only that he has decided to "go home", the implication being a return to the 25th century.

In the pages of Infinite Crisis, Booster Gold resurfaces in the ruins of the Justice League's Watchtower on the moon, along with Skeets, again branded as a criminal in his time for "hijacking historical records". When Skeets fails to locate the absent Martian Manhunter, Booster searches for Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle, whom he promptly takes to the Batcave. Booster tells Batman the subject of the stolen records: Batman never finds Brother Eye, but Booster implies that, with Jaime's aid, they can succeed. The mission is successful, and Booster plays a pivotal role in the destruction of the satellite.

In the aftermath of the Infinite Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have temporarily retired their costumed identities, Booster's robot sidekick seems to malfunction, and Booster searches fellow time traveler Rip Hunter's desert bunker for answers, but finds it littered with enigmatic scrawled notes. Booster finds photos of himself and Skeets surrounded by the words "his fault" with arrows pointing toward them.

Booster has several more time-hopping adventures, notably during the World War III storyline. Booster ultimately returns to the present, using T. O. Morrow as bait to draw out Skeets. Skeets reveals itself to be Mister Mind in disguise, having used Skeets' shell as a cocoon to evolve into a being capable of devouring the Multiverse. Booster and Rip flee into the timestream with Skeets' remains and return to the end of "Infinite Crisis". Rip and Booster witness the birth of the new Multiverse, made up of fifty-two identical worlds. Mr. Mind then devours years and events of each of the fifty-two worlds, altering their history in the process. The real Skeets gives Booster a pep talk which inspires him to stop Mind.

Booster travels to the day after the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths on New Earth, where he retrieves the Blue Beetle scarab from a younger Ted Kord. Using the scarab, Rip and Booster trap Mister Mind inside Skeets and hurl it into the timestream, trapping Mr. Mind within a repeating time loop. As a reward for helping save the Multiverse, Rip downloads Skeets' programming into a spare Responsometer. They decide to keep the existence of the new Multiverse a secret.

Will Magnus then repairs Skeets using the Responsometer, although Skeets has no memory of the last year.

Following the events of 52, the character returns in his second "Booster Gold" solo series with the first story arc 52 Pick-Up. Booster puts in a request to the JLA that they admit him. However, Rip Hunter informs Booster that history has become malleable after Mister Mind's rampage and earlier damage to the timeline.

As Booster is thought of as a buffoon, the person or persons behind the altering of time will not suspect he is thwarting them, but Booster must maintain his poor reputation to protect himself from any time travel attacks. Booster's condition for following Rip's orders is that he may travel back in time to avert the death of his best friend, Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle.

After several trips through assorted timelines, Booster returns to the present, and is enraged by Rip's unsympathetic responses to what he has been through, and quits. However, after a conversation with Batman, where he reveals he knew about Booster's involvement and attempt to prevent the crippling of Barbara Gordon, he resolves to continue working with Rip, even if it won't be "fun." Rip reveals that he has a way to make things easier: he is able to save Booster's sister Michelle from moments before she died, claiming there is a loophole due to Michelle being from the future.

Recently, Booster has shown his dedication to the mission, as he now calls himself a 'Time Master', the same as Rip Hunter, and taken on training his sister Michelle Carter.

Since his beginning, characters with the DC Universe have hinted that there is a greater purpose to Booster Gold than even he knows.

During the Millennium Event, Harbinger reveals to Martian Manhunter that Booster is descended from The Chosen, and that he must be protected due to his involvement in elevating the human race. It is finally revealed that Booster is, in fact, the start of the Time Masters, and that all his family, starting with son Rip, will go down as great heroes, save Booster, who is seen as the only loser of the bunch, though to the Carters, he will be remembered as the greatest of them all and honored for the sacrifices he made.

Booster Gold gained his "powers" from the artifacts he stole from a museum in the future. A power suit grants him super strength and wrist blasters allow him to project force blasts. The wrist blasters contain the primary controls and power supply for the suit as well as communications equipment to monitor communications frequencies. Circuitry from a force field belt that is incorporated into his costume allows Booster to resist physical and energy attacks, and he uses the force field to repel objects with great force and generate a breathable self-contained environment. The force field centers on Booster's body, but can expand and even project outward. The costume's goggles have infrared and magnifying capabilities as well. In addition to the powers from his suit, Booster can fly thanks to a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring.

Mattel has done a really superb job with the Booster Gold action figure. There are technically two versions out there, although they are extremely similar. One version has Booster Gold in his original costume, which features a rather high collar. The other version, which is the one I purchased, although I did see the other, is Booster's more modern uniform, introduced with his new comic series, and is virtually identical to the original, although it abolishes the collar. Really, the only different was that the collarless one had a slightly neater paint job around the face of the two that I saw.

Booster Gold's uniform us predominantly blue and gold. It consists of a blue headpiece, which leaves the top of Booster's head exposed, showing his blonde hair, and the front of his face, although his eyes are protected by a yellow visor. His shirt is mostly blue, with a triangular gold area across the front and a blue star in the center of it. Booster has yellow-gold gloves, with metallic blue wrist-bands. The legs of the costume are yellow-gold, and the boots are blue.

What's especially impressive about the figure is that it's always been stated to one degree or another that Booster's costume, since it is the source of his powers, and is from the 25th century, has a certain metallic sheen to it. Mattel has done a truly magnificent job in duplicating this. The entire costume has an amazing metallic finish to it. The blue is a very impressive metallic blue, and the gold is an equally impressive metallic yellow, without going into a darker metallic gold that I see too often on some action figures that try for a gold finish, and somehow manage instead to look -- well -- tarnished. The gold version of Captain Atom from this very series would be a mild example of this.

I've always had the impression that metallic paint jobs are just not the easiest thing in the world to do. I've certainly had enough problems with metallic paints myself over the years in customizing and even just touching up some action figures from various lines. It is to Mattel's distinct credit that they have turned out a figure as impressive as Booster Gold is. Reportedly Commander Steel is also in the works for this line, and he'll likely have a similar finish. Let's hope Mattel keeps up the good work here.

Booster Gold's facial expression could probably be best described as semi-cocky. One side of his mouth is turned up in a bit of a grin, as if saying, "Hey, I got this. No problem." But the other side is more serious, as if saying, "You know, I really wish I was taken more seriously. Maybe I should act like it."

Booster's visor is transparent yellow, and his eyes are clearly visible underneath. This is a very nice touch on Mattel's part, and is an attribute shared by Booster's series-mate, Blue Beetle. Booster's eyes appear to be blue, and he has fairly thick brown eyebrows. Very nicely detailed.

Booster's hands are also notably well detailed. His gloves contain powerful blasters, able to plow at their maximum setting through two solid feet of concrete, and they are detailed on the backs of his hands. You can also see his stolen Legion flight ring on his right hand.

BTW, given the weirdness in the Legion's continuity in recent years, be glad I don't get into that aspect of Booster's backstory here.

This may sound like a minor point, but the star on Booster's chest is very well done, superbly centered and precisely measured. You'd think it would be next to impossible to mess up something like a star.

Articulation-wise -- well, heck, that's one of the specialties of this DC Universe Classics line, isn't it? Booster Gold is superbly poseable at the head, arms, upper-arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. Mattel, or more specifically the sculptors known as the Four Horsemen, have designed an excellent basic sort of "hero body" that can be used for a wide range, and I suspect a considerable majority, of DC's male heroes (and villains), and it's really a great design.

I am also pleased to report that I am seeing an increase in the overall quality. Some of the earlier assortments had some serious problems. Although these problems are not entirely resolved, and doubtless I will be visually studying the figures as closely as I can before purchasing any of them and still hoping for the best once I open them, I do have to fairly say that overall quality has definitely increased, and I sincerely hope and pray it's a growing trend.

The DC Universe has literally thousands of amazing characters, legendary characters recognized worldwide. I sincerely believe that this DC Universe Classics line has the potential to be the single most impressive super-hero action figure line ever. It deserves every chance to be, and Mattel needs to be vigilant about it.

Any complaints? Just one. Booster Gold comes with Skeets. Fair enough. Weirdly (and perhaps somewhat troublingly), you can pop the top of Skeets and see a little Mister Mind in there, tying into the story from 52. (Mister Mind, for those who don't know, was an enemy of Captain Marvel's. He's a super-intelligent alien worm. Why no one's just stepped on the little creep I have no idea...)

I don't have a problem with Skeets. What I DO have a problem with is the fact that Mattel ATTACHED Skeets to Booster's BACK via a length of curved transparent yellow plastic, making it look like some sort of energy exhaust, and Skeets comes over Booster's left shoulder. WORST OF ALL -- it's not removable, and I think it could have been designed to be.

I've got no problem with accessories. I've got no problem with character attributed and accessories that NEED to be attached to the figure -- Hawkman's wings, Black Manta's oxygen pack, whatever. But THIS!? This didn't need to be. Skeets could have just as easily been a separate accessory. Want it to look like he's hovering? Give him a clear display stand of his own.

I'll admit, after I took some of the pictures you see here in this article, I wasted no time in snipping Skeets off and doing my level best to file down the remaining stub on the back. From the look of the prototype, Mattel will be doing the same thing with Mister Terrific's "T-Spheres", and I expect I'll do the same thing to them as such time as I get the figure.

Booster Gold should indeed come with Skeets. I'm not arguing that. It's HOW Mattel did it that I have a problem with.

Apart from that, though, I have nothing but good words for this figure.

So, what's my final word? Okay, sometimes it's tough to take Booster Gold seriously. The name alone isn't the most serious-sounding in the DC Universe. And some of his problems -- well, he's shot himself in the foot as often as anything. But it does seem that when push comes to shove and the chips are down. he does the right thing, and generally does it well.

And this is certainly a cool action figure of a character who may never get the respect he deserves, but is still a significant part of the DC Universe. As such, the DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of BOOSTER GOLD definitely has my highest recommendation!