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Monday, August 21, 2006

I Don't Think [52 Spoiler] Deserved To Die

I think it's been long enough that I don't have to put this in cut-away tags.

I don't know if I believe Booster Gold is dead.

On one hand, as deaths go, being cradled as a skeleton in someone's arms is pretty freakin' dead from where I'm sitting. Didio, Johns and the rest of the creative team seems to refer to him as dead. He's pretty damn dead.

On the other hand, it just doesn't feel right.

This isn't because I have any particular fondness for the character. Booster is funny sometimes but that's it really. I don't have any qualms with his portrayal in 52 because it isn't markedly different from his own series. I do think it ignores later developments where he's grown up a little, but it really doesn't seem out of character for me. I can buy the oddities as a kind of grief fueled regression.

I suppose I'm a little annoyed because I didn't really care.

I know superheroes die all the time. And most of the time come back. And I'm not going to be upset if any do come back, because to quote someone: "Everyone comes back, except Bucky or Jason Todd...oops."

But I want to care. I cared when Hal died. I cared when Ted died. I cared when Clark died. I cared when Conner died. Hell, Jack Drake and Steph Brown, neither character really being among my favorites, still got me a little sad.

This though... I think, as cliched as this sounds, I wanted a grander redemption moment. At least a clearer one. It seemed to me that Booster went out more trying to save his reputation than save the city. And fair enough, that's not completely out of character. And there's a moment where he seems like he might be choosing the city...but I wanted something clearer.

Basically I wanted a moment where Booster knows he's going to die and does it anyway. And I didn't feel I'd gotten that from the comic. Sure it's cheesy, and probably out of character, but it's what would be necessary to redeem a character as self absorbed as Booster.

In a strange way, I think a hero's death must be earned. Death is a special thing for a hero, whether it's permanent or not. Many lesser heroes are remembered more because of how they die than they'd ever have been alive. A good death can occasionally even ensure a resurrection of a character that doesn't deserve it.

I think this might have been the motivation for Steph's gratuitous torture in Robin. I mean, War Games was started because of her screw up. But it was her bravery and strength being tortured that gave her death a respectability beyond say...Jason Todd's. Jason's death wasn't really a hero's death, I think. Jason's death is remembered more as him screwing up and paying the ultimate price. I don't think people remember Steph's death the same way.

Countdown was an entire book devoted to taking a third-rate joke character and making him worthy of the death they were about to give him. A death worthy of being the death knoll of the pre-ICrisis DCU. They made a huge effort to take the character beyond the joke status of the JLI, beyond the lesser sidekick status in Birds of Prey and highlight the parts of his character that made him awesome. They showed him at his best, his most heroic. The underdog who never stops fighting. And when he *hurt*.

If we assume everything is as it seems, then I think Booster's death is supposed to be of similar importance in 52. But I have a problem with that. I don't think he's earned that. I don't think the character, as portrayed in 52, is worthy of a death that important.

If they wanted to write him out without changing him, they should have just sent him back to the future, and given this death to someone who deserves it.

I admit, I've got a weird paradox here. I think that death is a special thing and that heroic deaths are, in their own way, rewards. I guess it's because going out to save a city is an awesome way to be remembered. Which may be why deaths like Pantha's, Wildebeest's, Bushido's, Conner's or Kal-L's don't bother me. They might have had debatable effect, but they went out trying to stop a madman with the powers of a god. But, it's also true that aside from Conner (who would be really easy to resurrect if/when someone chooses) none of these characters even approach my favorites so of course I don't mind much that they die. If Sand or Guy had been killed against Superboy Prime, I'd have had a fit.

I am a bit of a hypocrite.

But I do know that I really hope Booster isn't dead. Because he didn't deserve to go out like this. The quieter Booster we saw in Countdown, Maybe. The Crusading one in the OMAC Project, sure. But the IC/52 Booster that may or may not even be the same character? No. He wasn't worthy of this death.

Of course, there's the very high chance, given all the straightforwardness regarding his death, that things aren't what they seem at all. So I'll just have to wait and see.


  • At August 21, 2006 9:45 AM, Blogger Brandon Bragg said…

    I all for the theory that the Booster who died is from a Pre-Infinite Crisis future that doesn't exist any more. I'm guessing we'll see a new-universe Booster sometime soon.

    Has anyone suggested that Super Nova might be that Booster? It might explain his attitude toward Gold last issue.

  • At August 21, 2006 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Funny you should mention that! My buddy, who is recently back from vacation, is a big Booster fan. He tells his views here, in the "Price of Gold Declines."

    I'm totally killing him for that title, but he makes a lot of good points.

    re: your post, though--
    I don't think that hero's deaths have to be earned. It depends on what comic I'm reading, but I don't mind (I don't like it, but I don't mind it) when heroes die not randomly, but "just because" I guess is the way to put it? Booster's death, I thought, was fitting. It was true to the character. Booster didn't need a Countdown because he wasn't going to die in that way. He was going to die as he'd lived, and as he'd regressed after Ted's death.

    His death didn't seem like it was going to be of similar importance to Ted's to me. I can see how you'd think that, but the course of 52 has shown me that there are subplots within subplots and layers in layers. All the stuff Skeets tells Booster is going on early in the issue (carjacking, power outage) end up being things that Booster does himself. What's up with that? How will that play into the series later on?

    I wouldn't say that Jason's death wasn't noble, however. He screwed up, like Stephanie, but he died trying to protect his mother. I thought that to be quite an end for a hero.

    Jack Drake's death was one of the few scenes in IdC I enjoyed (wrong word, but you know what I mean), if only because Meltzer can pull heartstrings like mad. The race to the Drakes' house was harrowing, and it was helped along by Morales's art.

    In short, though, I think that Gavok is onto something in that post, and I've got a ridiculous amount of faith in Morrison, who I believe has written most of the Booster stuff so far. We don't have the whole story yet, so we'll see how it goes!

  • At August 21, 2006 10:49 AM, Blogger Rich said…

    The suspicion that Supernova is an alternate Booster has been floated before - but I think that may be too obvious.

    With Supernova's logo being similar to GBS, former GBS honcho Morgan Edge being tied to Intergang and Intergang being back in 52, I'm thinking that he might actually be an Intergang shill. Either that or a New God, I haven't decided!

    As far as Booster - I know what you mean about earning a death, but sometimes death just comes so I'm happy with the way he went out, saving people. That said, I'm still not 100% convinced that he actually is dead for good...

  • At August 21, 2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    The problem I have with Booster's death - and I haven't read 52 in a few weeks because I haven't been able to make it to the store - is that, with him dead, who's going to be doing all the time-travel related investigation in 52? 52 is supposed to give us an overview of the entire post-IC DCU. Which, because of DC's characters in different time-periods, necessarily involves time travel, and Booster was the obvious candidate for our tour guide to those areas. So I don't know if I buy it that he's dead.

  • At August 21, 2006 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At the 52 panel at Comic-Con, Greg Rucka said that if you really thought about who Supernova is, you'd figure it out. And, he said that the person who is Supernova has been in the book the whole time. So, that leads me to believe that Booster's death was not in vein. Especially, if you think about how they've been marketing the concept of the book...the journey of these 2nd and 3rd tier characters to becoming heroes. It would certainly tie up a lot of loose ends...

    AND, me thinks that there's more than one character in the DCU with a Doppleganger...Strange how different Supergirl is in Supergirl and Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. And, if you think about it, could there possibly be a Nightwing doppleganger? I mean, Nightwing in his own title and Outsiders seem as different as night and day. And, isn't one of the Monitors watching him?

  • At August 21, 2006 2:33 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    I'm with you. That death left me cold, too. And this is exactly why Jade's death unsettled me. She didn't get that heroic out. She was simply put out.

  • At August 21, 2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    First of all, I just read the issue yesterday. So it's debatable if you maybe should not have put the spoiler at least in the headline. It really wasn't necessary. OTOH it was clear what happens from the preview cover, so there wasn't much of a big spoiler involved, anyway.

    (Although while reading the book, for one minute I thought that the cover was a distraction, and actually it would be the Question who buys it... Now THEN I would have been pissed off if anyone spoilt that!)

    Otherwise, nice reflection there about Death in comics, and especially how it affects us differently the closer we are attached to the character.

    I think the reason one may be not so much upset about Booster's death in this instance is not, how popular he is (and although I'm kinda *shrug* about Booster, at least in 52 he was written quite well and in character by Grant et al.) but more, that it just feels that there will be more to it, and that this is not over. He still feels like an integral part of the story, and thus still has a role to play.

  • At August 21, 2006 3:23 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    brandon: I've heard the theory. I wouldn't mind if it were true. I really don't think this should be the end of the story.

    david: It's a cheesy title, but it's an interesting article.

    I think heroic deaths are earned though. It's basically how they're remembered.

    Jason's remembered for screwing up, even saving his mom at the end. Booster's going to be remembered for saving a city. I don't think that's fair.

    Jack Drake's death was suiting because he was a normal guy who'd gone out fighting. Boomerang might have been a joke, but next to a normal person...the odds weren't in Jack's favor. His courage to defend himself made it a good death.

    I just don't think Booster deserved a good death yet. He could have, but not yet.

    rich: That's an interesting thought.

    And that's just it. He went out saving people. He'll be remembered for saving people. Even though he did it more for his own pride. I don't know if I like that. Hmm. Might depend on how it happens.

    matthew: Oh no! I'm sorry! I spoiled it for you!

    I wouldn't be surprised though if Supernova or Magnus end up taking over that aspect.

    loren: Good point!

    Though I tend to think the future Supergirl is Dream Girl somehow.

    I'm pretty sure the Outsiders Nightwing was supposed to be Jason Todd. At least that was the plan after Dick died in IC, I think. But now, I'm not sure what.

    I'd like it to still be Jason though, as it makes the most sense. Ignore Jones's story and stick with that...

    ragnell: Honestly, I think it's the reverse problem.

    Jade was shallow and flighty and a bitch, but she was a hero. She was a hero for the right reasons. And she went out without a whimper, uselessly. Booster spends his whole time shilling out for profit, abandoning Ralph in need, and just causing havoc and he gets a hero's death. Now he'll be remembered for saving people while Jade is just remembered for being the source of Kyle's new power. That's not fair.

    denis: Hmm, good point, I'll change the title.

  • At August 21, 2006 3:29 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    mm.. I seemed to have squashed two separate thoughts into a single comment. Oops.

  • At August 21, 2006 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Kalinara: I think heroic deaths are earned though. It's basically how they're remembered.

    Agh, I think I may have misread bits of your post, then. I took "hero's death" to mean "the death of a hero," as in the death of a character, rather than a heroic death, as in a character dying while doing hero-type things. That's what I get for posting before I'm fully awake.

  • At August 21, 2006 4:01 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Happens to all of us.

    Besides, I wasn't very clear. It's what I get posting at 6 in the morning. :-P

  • At August 21, 2006 8:04 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    "They might have had debatable effect, but they went out trying to stop a madman with the powers of a god."

    Dan Didio?

  • At August 21, 2006 8:14 PM, Blogger ComicBookGoddess said…

    I'm still betting that it's Booster's death that causes time to unravel.

    And I'm still betting towards Super Nova being some sort of Bloodwynd trick...

  • At August 21, 2006 10:32 PM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    Don't worry about it; if I'm worried about being spoiled for something I just stay away from the internet. I don't care about being spoiled for 52.

  • At August 22, 2006 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, I think that Booster had a stupid death. But when you think about it, there have been an awful lot of stupid deaths, Jade's, Ice,
    Dmitri, Katma, even Guy's which was utterly ridiculous. I'm just tired of them killing off decent characters!

  • At August 22, 2006 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When did Guy Gardner die? Was that during Warrior?

  • At August 22, 2006 3:38 PM, Blogger Marionette said…

    I don't believe for a second that Booster is dead. The whole Booster storyline is so full of loose ends that there is no way it stops here. Booster did not die to motivate another character; he didn't die to big up some event; he just died in the middle of a story.

  • At August 23, 2006 11:36 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    brandon: Yes, that seems to be the prevailing view.

    Kalinara: I think you might be overthinking this just a tad. No, Booster's not dead, and it's not just that he hasn't earned it (and you're 100% right in that criticism). It's that there's a whole plot revolving around Booster which hasn't been resolved in the least. We haven't seen Rip Hunter, we haven't figured out why Booster is supposedly the reason time is broken, and we don't have Booster around apparently to fix it.

    Booster's not dead, not because he died poorly, but because he died prematurely.

  • At August 24, 2006 12:38 AM, Blogger Amy Reads said…

    I think you're right about The State Of Death In Comics; we always, always expect them to Come Back. I have a theory about Supernova, but none of my theories have proven solid during 52, so I'll keep my mouth shut ;)
    re: Conner, that one hit me and hit me hard, particularly since we're seeing the Cassie and Robin aftermath (good God, those final scenes between the two in the lab in Teen Titans). And I keep expecting him to Come Back, but at the same time, I don't want him to.
    Why? Because he sacrificed himself to save the world(s), and the people he loved, and if he returns from the dead, I might feel as if that was all negated.
    But then again, I'm a sucker for romance, and I want to see Cassie happy again.


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