Booster Gold #20

You'd be surpised how few Commies are actually in this.

You'd be surprised how few Commies are actually in this.

“1952 Pickup”
Author: Keith Giffen
Artists: Patrick Oliffe & Dan Jurgens
Inkers: Norm Rapmund & Rodney Ramos
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover Artist: Jurgens & Rapmund

I stopped reading Booster Gold after lucky issue 13.  That’s two issues after Geoff Johns left the book, which yielded a noticeable drop in quality.  All the while Dan Jurgens continued to draw Booster – which was great, seeing as he created the character – but writing duties were passed to less accomplished writers, and at one point, Jurgens had to draw and write.  I thought it was only a matter of time before this once illustrious series got the axe.  Not yet, it seems.

When I noticed Keith Giffen’s name credited on the front cover (along with Jurgens’) of issue 20, I decided now might be the right time to climb back into the chronosphere with Booster Gold and Rip Hunter.  After all, Giffen has quite a pedigree when it comes to Booster Gold.  Booster was in Giffen’s hilarious incarnation of the Justice League.  Giffen also did the page breakdowns for my favourite ‘event’ comic, 52, in which Booster was a major character.  But most importantly, Giffen has a reputation for witty dialogue.

He doesn’t disappoint in that regard – Booster’s a smartass as always and Rip’s a time-wearied cynic as expected – although I was missing the presence of his robotic encyclopaedia, Skeets (perhaps there wasn’t room for three smartasses in Giffen’s story).  When I stopped reading the title, Booster’s sister had just joined the crew, which was an interesting development, so it was sad to see that she had already been dispensed with (or maybe she’s just on an adventure with Skeets).  The issue kicks off with an amusing verbal skirmish between Booster and Rip,

In Booster Gold #20, Rip’s time machine stalls ‘somewhere to the left of yesterday’, and Booster decides to pass the time by visiting the [relatively] peaceful 50s.  He, of course, gets more than he bargains for when he journeys to 1952.  Hoping for Las Vegas, he lands instead in the Nevada desert, near the small town of Mosely, population 265, but more importantly, near a top-secret rocket launch site.  Booster, oblivious to the ‘anti-cape’ laws of the time, flies to the nearest servo [Americans read: gas station] for directions to Sin City.  What he gets instead is the ‘FBI’, who actually turn out to be none other than Sergeant Rock and the Suicide Squad.  They blackmail Booster into stopping one of the world’s first manned space flights, because the project is headed by a deep cover Soviet scientist.  Booster is happy to oblige when he realises the first successful manned space flight wasn’t to occur until a decade later.  Everybody wins.  (This, of course, leads to some witty banter between Booster and Sgt. Rock.)

This issue was pretty entertaining.  Probably the biggest disappointment was the guest art by Patrick Oliffe.  It’s not bad per se, but the characters’ faces lacked detail at times, and Jurgens’ Booster just can’t be matched.  It probably would have fared better had the issue not been book-ended by Dan Jurgens’ illustrations.  It just lacked consistency given the differences in style and ability.  Of course, I would have preferred that Jurgens drew the whole thing, but obviously there were time constraints there.

When all is said and done, Booster #20 is a simple, yet enjoyable one-shot.  Whether or not you’ll enjoy this issue is wholly dependent on what you value most in a comic book – the writing, which is great, or the art, which is good in places, and merely *okay* in others.  If you enjoy Keith Giffen’s ear for dialogue and *a spot of* Dan Jurgens’ art, then by all means, have a read.

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