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REVIEW:
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED BOOSTER GOLD FIGURE
By Thomas Wheeler


I suppose this almost borders on a Flashback review, since Booster Gold was a figure made for the Justice Leage Unlimited line a while back, but I only recently was able to obtain this figure, and given the character's return to prominence in the comic books, I thought he deserved a decent review.

Booster Gold first appeared in Booster Gold #1 in 1986, and was one of the first new characters to turn up in the DC Universe after the epic Crisis on Infinite Earths. He has been a member of the Justice League, notably during the time when the title was almost comedic in nature, which also followed the Crisis. Booster is initially depicted as a glory-seeking showboat from the future, using knowledge of historical events and futuristic technology to stage high-publicity heroics. The character 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. Obviously he took himself less seriously in Justice League.

As to the character's history: Michael Jon Carter is a college football star in the 25th century, who is banned from the sport after he is caught betting on his own football games. 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, he steals devices from the museum displays, including a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring and Brainiac 5's force-field belt.

(Precisely how a flight ring and a force field belt from the 30th century Legion got to the 25th century I'd like to know, but those heroes weren't above some time-hopping themselves...)

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 to introduce him as "Booster Gold." The name stuck.

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, 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 partnered with fellow Justice League member Blue Beetle, and the two quickly become best friends. Among the duo's more notable appearances include a stint as superhero repo men and the construction of a gaming resort, Club JLI, on the living island Kooey Kooey Kooey.

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 re-forms 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.

Booster would continue to be a relatively minor player here and there for years, until the events leading up to Infinite Crisis. After the events depicted in the limited series Identity Crisis, in which Justice Leage member Elongated Man's wife Sue Dibny is murdered, Booster Gold hangs up his costume and retires from crime-fighting only to once again assume the role to help Blue Beetle discover who is manipulating his business, 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, deliberately keeping the Justice League, during the time Booster was a member, ineffective.

He has also lost his trust toward the other heroes of the DC universe. 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, and the remaining heroes attend a memorial for Superboy in Metropolis. Booster Gold attends the memorial, but when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman do not arrive as he expects, he suspects his robot sidekick Skeets is malfunctioning and becomes hysterical. After Skeets reports other incorrect historical data, Booster searches fellow time traveler Rip Hunter's desert bunker for answers, but finds it littered with enigmatic scrawled notes.

After several further adventures, following the events of the "52" series, the character returns in his second "Booster Gold" solo series with the first story arc "52 Pickup." Booster puts in a request to the JLA that they admit him and the group begrudgingly decide to monitor him over the next week. However, Rip Hunter informs Booster that history has become malleable after damage to the timeline during "52". Hunter needs Booster's help to repair assorted blips in 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. Despite Rip's objections, Booster and three Blue Beetles from different time periods team up to rescue Ted Kord moments before his death. They succeed, and the restored Blue/Gold duo deserts Rip Hunter to side with the Blue Beetles group.

The new series is being written by Geoff Johns, with artwork by Dan Jurgens, who created the character in the first place, and has been extremely enjoyable.

As for Booster's abilities, Booster Gold gains 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 Boosters 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. Booster can also absorb mass and eject it either in its original form or as a melted mass, although this depletes his force field for a time afterward.

Booster Gold's appearances in the Justice League animated series have been largely relegated to non-speaking cameo appearances in large group shots, including episodes such as "Dark Heart", "Flashpoint", "Panic in the Sky", and "Destroyer". However, one episode of the series did distinctly focus on him, and kept the character pretty much true to his comic book counterpart. Booster's colleagues in the Justice League dismiss the shameless, showboating, and self-promoting superhero as a hopeless wannabe. Children ask for his autograph, but only because they inexplicably mistake him for Green Lantern.

In the episode "The Greatest Story Never Told", during an epic battle with Mordru, Booster is assigned to crowd control, but when another danger presents itself, Booster's calls to the Martian Manhunter for help go ignored; he is too busy instructing those on the battlefield, and thus cuts him off. Booster, with the aid of Skeets and a lovely female scientist named Dr. Tracy Simmons, must save the day. Booster halts a scientist's unwitting rampage and saves Skeets and the girl. When Booster returns to his post, Batman scolds Booster for not following orders and for leaving his post. Unable to convince Batman of the danger he averted, Booster is told by Batman that he will speak to him later. However, Tracy shows her appreciation for Booster's work by going on a date with him.

As to the figure, Mattel did a good job capturing the character's overall likeness, but in my opinion botched the color scheme a bit. Booster's uniform has always been portrayed as being gold and very dark blue. Mattel inexplicably made the dark blue portions of his costume black. However, the figure still works from a basic design standpoint, and the gold aspects of the costume have been done in a very impressive metallic gold, so I suppose I'm willing to let the black coloration slide, even if I have to say that it doesn't quite look right.

Booster Gold uses the same "basic male body" as many of the JLU figures. One can hardly blame Mattel for doing this, as it does save money, and really, most of the male characters in the animated series do tend to have a similar body type. The one somewhat tricky part in Booster's case, though, would have to be the fact that his uniform has a rather high, open collar, something the basic body form obviously does not have. Mattel found a neat way around his by molding a collar piece and attaching it to the point where the head would normally be mounted, and then mounting the head on that. The collar does not turn (it'd look rather ridiculous if it did), but the head does. Nicely done!

The headsculpt is a very well done animated version of the character. Booster has his wavy blonde hair, and a confident and borderline cocky grin on his face.

The figure's articulation is somewhat limited, but then this is not unusual for most Justice League Unlimited figures. He is poseable at the head, arms, and legs. I have been dismayed lately to see the degree of heat Mattel has been taking over this sort of thing in the fan community lately. Comments that "Mattel is making toys like it's still the 1970's" are commonplace, apparently ignoring the fact that Mattel has recently come out with a line of more realistic action figures called DC Universe that feature much more extensive articulation, almost to Marvel Legends levels. And, for that matter, the Justice League line has been around for some years, and Mattel's only taking this level of abuse NOW!? It's pretty ridiculous in my book.

Booster Gold is the perfect example of why people buy the Justice League Unlimited line. They don't buy it because the figure is so articulated it can outdo a contortionist. People buy it because it features characters from the DC Universe that would otherwise not likely be made as action figures, and is also based on a highly popular animated series that is one of the best ever produced based on the DC Universe, if not THE best.

I like good articulation myself. I also like a line that has cool characters. And there are times when I am willing to trade off one for the other. If G.I. Joe or Power Rangers or Star Wars were poorly articulated, it would bother me. It doesn't bother me here.

As for Booster Gold -- well, he's several years off the market, and for whatever reason, has never been brought back into the line. But that doesn't make him impossible to find. I've seen several online. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to locate the "Skeets" accessory, but that's all right. Skeets, as mentioned in the review of the character, is Booster's loyal robot companion. Basically he looks like a robotic frisbee.

I really don't know Mattel's specific plans for the line at this point, except that it will continue (as a Target exclusive, but it practically has been anyway for about a year), will feature new characters, as well as popularly requested repaints. I wonder if that might include a dark blue Booster?

However, I certainly recommend the figure. The character is regaining a certain prominence in the DC Universe, and the figure is an excellent addition to the Justice League Unlimited line. If you can track down a Booster Gold figure, he definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!