Secret Origins #35: Booster Gold, Martian Manhunter, and Maxwell Lord

The (epic? sure!) finale of the Justice League International trilogy kicks off with Ryan Daly and Andy Kapellusch reviewing the story of Booster Gold from Secret Origins #35. Then, Diabolu Frank schools Ryan on the history and legend of the Martian Manhunter. And finally, Doug Zawisza returns to help Ryan cover the origin of Maxwell Lord.

Plus, details on a new listener incentive contest. You can win a signed copy of a Secret Origins comic for FREE! Listen to the episode to find out how!

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“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) written and performed by Neil Daly.

Additional music: “Alien” by Bush; “Oh Yeah” by Yello; “Moneytalks” by AC/DC.

Thanks for listening!

28 responses to “Secret Origins #35: Booster Gold, Martian Manhunter, and Maxwell Lord

  1. Great episode!

    I LOVED the JLI merchandise we see in the Booster story. As a burgeoning toy collector, I couldn’t get past that part honestly. This period, in between Super Powers and the 89 Batman film is one of the worst times for merchandising in DC history. Definitely the weakest point post 66 Batmania. So the thought of real JLI toys and collectibles had my mouth watering. They did make a poster and post card set.

    You and Andy have sold me on the 2nd Booster series. I need to check that out.

    The Martian Manhunter story is one of the best of the entire series. I really don’t have much to add that you and Frank didn’t cover, but I’ve always loved this one, and I’m glad it got reprinted in that Secret Origins TPB.

    I didn’t know what to make of Max as a kid and teen. Nowadays I see him as the type of people you run into in any business setting. Okay, there’s the premeditated murder part you brought up, Ryan. Maybe Max’s heel turn in Countdown to IC wasn’t QUITE as out of character as we remember. Great coverage by you and Doug.

    Nice job on this set of episodes. I know it had to be rough, but they were all good listens!


  2. I laughed and laughed when Andy said he was born in 1985. What a crazy thing to say.

    Ryan, I thought you were joking when you said I was British, but now I realise you are an imbecile. Good to know.

  3. So, now we know what Snakeyes looks like under that mask. And knowing is half the battle!

    I was disappointed that the Booster Gold story didn’t follow him to prison, where the warden forces him to form a team of cons, to play the guards, then throw the game.

    All kidding aside, if Booster had appeared in the early 70s, Burt Reynolds would have been perfect for the movie.

    Martian Manhunter was aalmost a non-entity, in the 1970s. I think the first reference I ever saw to the character was in Ask The Answer Man, in the Daily Planet supplements of the DC comics, of the period. The next was that house ad for the DC Explosion, featuring a group of characters in a half circle, who would make up the back-up features or new comics for the expanded page count. Then, there was the DC Implosion, so all of that died quickly. i didn’t even know Martian Manhunter was one of the characters in the group until later, since they weren’t specifically identified. There were about half that I didn’t know (like the earlier female Starfire and Steve Ditko’s Odd Man). I didn’t see Martian Manhunter, for real, until JLA #200, where he was under alien control. I wasn’t reading the book when he came back; so, most of my exposure was in JLI and beyond. Justice League Unlimited and DC: The New Frontier are my favorite depictions. Thankfully, I’ve only seen a brief, shadowy clip of David Ogden Stiers, and his rendition.

    The story itself is well told and is the interesting one of the book. Mark Verheiden was a favorite writer, starting with his work on Dark Horse’s The American, as well as Aliens and Predator (launching the long association with Dark Horse and the film properties).

    One major thing that Ken Steacy was known for was the graphic novel The Sacred and the Profane, done with fellow Canadian Dean Motter. The team started it in Mike Friedrich’s Star*Reach, then it was completed at Epic and reprinted by Eclipse. It’s an amazing piece of work and one of the true pioneering works of the graphic novel, even though it started as a serial. He also drew Harlan Ellison’s Night & the Enemy, at Comico.

    Colorado is too nice? Did you forget Columbine?

    I have to disagree with Frank that you can’t do a good horror or supernatural story with Superman. Elliot Maggin accomplished it in the novel Superman: Miracle Monday.

    Yello? I didn’t realize that Ferris Bueller grew up to be Maxwell Lord…

    Max Lord was an interesting character. At first, you didn’t know what his agenda was and you didn’t trust him. He was rather like the original Morgan Edge, who started out as a shady character who was head of GBS and connected to the criminal Intergang, until it was retconned (before the term existed) that the real Edge had been replaced by the criminal and he was released by Superman. As such, yeah, you can see how Countdown to Infinite Crisis was set up. The only problem is that Lord had been reformed over JLI. That is why people got so upset. Had this happened in the late 80s, we would have said, “I knew he was evil!”

    1. I used “Oh Yeah” for it’s connection to that other ’80s movie, THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS starring Michael J. Fox.

      1. Let’s face it, more people heard that song in context of Ferris Bueller than The Secret of my Success.

        I would have suggested The Flying Lizards’ “Money,” for a nice 80s greed feel.

  4. If I were a lesser person, I would write a review of Frank’s appearance and make it so long and circuitous and loaded with obscure detail that by the time everyone was done reading it they found themselves exhausted and demoralized, wondering why they ever started podcasting in the first place. But I’m rising above.

    That said, if there is one person I would actually love to see write a Martian Manhunter comic, it would be Frank. He has such a grasp of the micro and macro that his fandom for the character would probably result in the best MM comics ever done, since he appreciates the silliness inherent but also larger themes that could work as the background for great comics stories. Sadly, he’d probably clash with the editors and leave the book by issue 3.

    I like hearing Zawisza on the podcast, please have him back to discuss a character I give a rat’s ass about.

    Love the contest idea! I may steal it for Pod Dylan. The amount of work you put in to these SO episodes is simply staggering, Ryan. This show is a towering achievement.

      1. You win a Skype call with Rob! and he tells you all about the time he went to the Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert. Should last about 7 hours.

  5. Great episode.

    I must admit, I have never quite seen the appeal of Booster Gold. This episode definitely increased my interest. I didn’t know the undercurrent of regret. And that second series, especially that Killing Joke issue, sounds fascinating.

    As for J’onn, my introduction to the JLA was the Dillin era so I never knew J’onn back then. It was only in those rare, weird appearances in the early 80s that I first met him, books like JLA 200 or DCCP 27. He seemed cool and powerful and I wondered why he wasn’t being used more.

    Once he joined the JLA again, I wasn’t reading that book. So the next introduction was in Crisis. As I have said on the Bwa-Ha-Ha podcast, I didn’t really read the JLI books. So the most I read J’onn was in the Morrison book. What I know about early J’onn, I have learned from Frank’s site!

    I am getting the current Martian Manhunter book. It is a trippy, wild, book with all sorts of threads – kaiju, black magic, split personalities, science fiction. I don’t know if it is a true J’onn book. (I could rewrite a few words and make this a Shade the Changing Man book or an Amethyst book.) But it is entertaining.

  6. Another great show, Ryan. Like Anj, I never warmed to Booster Gold. He’s just always struck me as a Kobra Kai guy from the future. I would rather have had Kord survive and this idiot die, but what can you do?

    But those Martian Manhunter and Maxwell Lord stories were pretty good given their limited space. Look forward to me.

  7. Maxwell Lord IV is Snapper Carr done right. They even sort of look alike if you squint a little and adjust for rampant income inequality. In the first adventure of a new Justice League, this random dude inserts himself and inexplicably become an important ongoing element of the book despite not being a super-hero. When Max was created by Keith Giffen, he was intended to be a mysterious mover and shaker without anyone knowing what the character’s endgame was. Just like Snapper was supposed to be a reader identification character without Schwartz or Fox knowing anything about youth culture or what to actually do with the little idiot. Both characters were primarily used for exposition. The League would talk at Snapper when Gardner Fox needed to relate a science fact or flashback to an origin story he wouldn’t be privy to. Max Lord was used to ratchet (often comedic, but sometimes not) tension as the U.N. and the world in general reacted to the League’s messes. When the JLI’s present and future were being sorted out, it was usually down to Max in an office talking to team leaders Martian Manhunter & Captain Atom, a bureau chief, or just Oberon acting as a sounding board.

    Both characters were manipulated by an outside force to betray the League, but in Max’s case it was part of an arc and in Snapper’s case it was an excuse to show the useless conceptual artifact the door. Snapper Carr was an unnecessary, unwanted, space wasting add-on to a book starring DC’s greatest icons. Max Lord was arguably the star of JLI, representing all the characters that “shouldn’t” be associated with the League because they were too minor or compromised, but ultimately wins reader affection and proves their value as the heroes who showed up when the big shots were otherwise engaged. Max created the International Justice League through his will and connections, he held it together when similar incarnations of the team would have flown apart, it was his near fatal shooting that initiated the next transformation of the team, and it was his story being told in the final issue of the Giffen/DeMatteis run. When the true, funny, beloved JLI reunites, by that or any other name, it’s down to Max Lord getting the band back together. All others are pale imitations.

    Whether or not Dan Didio intended to destroy the camaraderie of the JLI for all time, someone in his circle understood you had to get to Max Lord first, and that team would fall apart from the center out. It had worked before when Justice League Europe disassociated from Max and Superman’s League disenfranchised him. Five unpopular short-lived incarnations inside four years followed by five series cancellations led to the entire reboot of the franchise with Morrison’s JLA. With two successful JLI revival mini-series threatening the future Snyderverse, decisive action was taken. One of the JLI’s most beloved members was murdered by its defining character turned evil, another something already done during the JLI wilderness years, but editorial doggedly refused any explanation other than Max Lord had been bad the entire time (making the JLI idiots for embracing and following him all those years.) Never mind that Max, by design or not, was a proxy for the JLI creative and editorial team (including Andy Helfer, Kevin Maguire, et al.) They weren’t just defaming a muchly abandoned supporting character, but an era and its proponents. DC served notice that the JLI was not the kind of book they wanted to publish, and they didn’t want those quaint old readers who laughed along with them. They wanted that huge Chromium Age audience in 2011. The New 52: There’s No Stopping Us Now– from ruining DC Comics…

  8. The only reason folks think of me whenever Martian Manhunter is mentioned is because he and I wear the same outfit to work.

  9. And so that’s the Bwaa-Ha-Harigins over with. This was the strongest of the three issues for me, with three of my favourite characters.

    The framing of the J’onn origin was nice, and the story was executed well, but DC has faffed about with his beginnings far too much over the years. I like the original, two-panel story. What’s wrong with a space-saving start? One thing I never understood – if J’onn adopted a humanoid shape to not alarm humans, why not go the whole hog, why even stay green?

    Ken Steacy did a few Legion covers on the Baxter run, they were oddly effective (my mother was a Baxter, that’s why I’m of such high quality…)

    One of the reasons I liked Max Lord immediately was that he had such great hair – he was based on Sam Neill visually, wasn’t he? I haven’t got the issue to hand, was the computer that messed with Max, the Kilg%re (and is that pronounced ‘Kill-gore’ or ‘Killpercentagegore’?) or perhaps Kilg%re’s daddy, the Construct?

    I was with Booster from the start, and never got the impression Dan Jurgens intended the cape to stick around; it was more a flourish to demonstrate Michael’s grandiose ideas, so perfectly pricked by Skeets. Another thing I can’t remember, did they ever explain why Booster and Javelin had such similar looks? And talking of looks, I liked that Booster did a reverse Barry Allen, swapping his lovely wavy locks for a crew cut, where Barry grew his crew cut out. More heroes should change their hair. Heck, Superman could’ve swapped the (it so was!) mullet for a Campus Cuddle-Bun.

    What the heck was that final, I almost said ‘tune’? Kids.

    Regardless, wonderful show, terrific contributors as ever – good luck with your busy week, Ryan.

    1. I think Gerard Jones retconned the computer to be Kilg%re – I had always thought the computer was connected somewhat to the New Gods originally. The computer did take over the Construct to lure the JLI away to a confrontation with Metron.

  10. I don’t get the lukewarm response this tryptic cover has received. I think Ordway did a phenomenal job (giving variation to “flight” is no easy feat) and Templeton (a great penciler in his own right) pulled it together without dominating the piece. The staging isn’t boring *at all* — and if it would’ve been played up for laughs, it would’ve been too on the nose. The actual contents are uneven, as your analysis proved, but man, these covers are definitely more than “serviceable.”

    Maybe it has something to do with having seen this ad as a kid, and almost 30 years later it still kicks my ass:

  11. Another excellent episode Ryan – more JLI goodness delivered to the doorstep.

    I actually read two of the three stories previously. The Martian Manhunter story was part of the Secret Origins Trade Paperback while the Booster Gold story was part of the Showcase Presents volume. Would recommend the Showcase volume to anyone wanting the entire Volume 1 run; an excellent series.

    I agree with Ryan and Andy about how good the Booster Gold volume 2 was – the story where Booster went back to try and save Barbara was very moving, and it also lead to the softening of the Batman character – Bruce’s comment that he could never replace Ted as Booster’s friend but that he would always be there to be a sounding board if Booster ever needed it was very sincere. In my mind, I would have loved it if they had Booster follow up on that offer and you could have had a one and done issue of Booster talking with Batman, a la what they did in Starman with the “Talking with David”. Being the hero that no one knew had saved the universe must have been particularly hard for Booster, especially when he got grief from other heroes. The mini-series “Time Masters-Vanishing Point” showed this to full effect with both Superman and Hal Jordan being particularly condescending to Booster, to the point where you would almost want Booster to hit him with a comment that at least he (Booster) didn’t destroy the Green Lantern Corps!

    The Martian Manhunter story was very effective. Again, great recommendations on required reading for J’onn – two stories I would also recommend came from JLI annuals. JLI Annual 1 had J’onn battle the entire league as an alien parasite infected the world, leading to the ultimate sacrifice by J’onn (I believe this may have led into the 4 issue mini-series in the 1980s); while “The Man I Never Was” from JLI Annual 3, where J’onn and Batman teamed up to find the killer of a cop who J’onn was friends with in his early John Jones detective days. Like Frank says, the character does lend itself to all types of stories and you can go from science fiction to detective noir to comedy to straight superhero action very easily with J’onn compared to other characters.

    Maxwell Lord was an interesting character. I believe that there was a latent telepathy which he used to get Ted Kord to rescue him when he revisited the cave where he encountered the computer and where his old boss was killed. This telepathy developed further on the detonation of the gene bomb in Invasion, but also had the unfortunate side effect of causing a nose bleed. This led to a funny dream sequence where he imagined himself to be a superhero called Maximum Force, equipped with over the top Image style superhero suit and a tube going from his nose to contain the nose bleeds!

    JL: Generation Lost did give the background to why Maxwell Lord went darker after the JLI period; the loss of his mother in Coast City after its destruction by the Cyborg Superman led to him mistrusting the superheroes and searching out the means to try and control superheroes in the future. It never explained how he became human after the whole Kilg%re/Lord Havok transformation but maybe we did not need a convoluted explanation for that!

    1. I had a paragraph worth of Martian Manhunter recommendations handy, and both the stories you mentioned were on it. However, I decided to avoid such deep cuts in favor of stuff available in trade or quick bullet points of uncollected essentials. Looking forward to podcasting about one of those two stories in coming months, though.

  12. Great episode, even if you had to muddle through Maxwell Lord’s later history.

    Now, I have a bit of a dilemma, I love the contest idea, but am stymied by the requirement to post feedback on ALL of those 12 podcasts. No offense intended, but I do not like all of the equally, and normally, I would just leave my negative comments to myself (a podcast I don’t like may still appeal to others, obviously), but I don’t have that option if I still want to enter…. I may still go ahead, and would try to be as kind as possible, but the fact remains….

  13. I’ve been horribly negligent in leaving comments during your JLI coverage. Part of me was simply reveling in all the JLI chocolaty goodness; part of me just was crazy-busy and very ill. Overall, it was a wonderful three episodes, even without THE resident JLI expert that you happen to know (and didn’t bother to invite). I don’t believe I’ve ever read these particular issues, so it was a treat to hear new JLI adventures! I’ve got some random thoughts from the past three episodes, so I’ll run through those here..

    Mister Miracle & Oberon – Always a pleasure to hear David G on a podcast! I miss our Ultraverse Podcast days and I’m happy to see he’s still finding work. Looking at the sample pages, some of those panels are great mimics of Kirby! The split storytelling is an interesting idea, but sorry to hear it didn’t live up to it’s potential.

    Green Flame – Always a pleasure to hear Tim Wallace on a podcast! In fact, he’s my co-host on the next episode of JLI Podcast! Those sample pages are hilarious and you can really see the Cherry Poptart influence! Bwah-ha-ha! Given her ridiculous power, I’m pleased Tom & Mary Bierbaum went for the ridiculous approach to her origin. And obviously, Fire is HOT!

    Icemaiden – Always a pleasure to hear Paul Hix on a podcast! Love his WAITING FOR DOOM podcast! The art in this story looks pretty good from the sample pages, but the story just sounds nuts! And thanks for pointing out the gratuitous butt shots, boys! Well spotted!

    Captain Atom – Always a pleasure to hear Jay Jones on a podcast! His SILVER & GOLD podcast is a hoot! Jay, you had me “Doctor Who Marvel Comics”, and then lost me with your love for “Extreme Justice”. Seriously? That series was terrible. It’s like a cake baked wrong. Great ingredients: a Justice League team, Firestorm, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, a hot chick, and some other folks. However, someone had left out some of those ingredients so long that they spoiled; it was mixed wrong with bad 90s artwork; and was baked at the wrong temperature with questionable writing. It was like the time Rachel on Friends made the dessert that was half trifle and half shepherds pie. I did enjoy the concept behind the Captain Atom origin in this issue. Fun way to highlight his fake origin without just rehashing what was told in his own series fairly recently.

    Rocket Red – Always a pleasure to hear Doctor G-Man on a podcast! I’ve just recently tried his SECRET SAGAS OF THE MULTIVERSE episodes and greatly enjoyed them! Now, is it just me or does Doctor G-Man sound like a sound-clone of Jon Wilson?!?! I can’t tell them apart! That Rocket Red origin sounds insane! And the sample art with the mouth cannon?!?! WTF??

    Gnort – Always a pleasure to hear Paul Spataro and Andy Leyland on a podcast! I’m a fan of BACK TO THE BINS and HEY KIDS COMICS! One day I’m going to retire and be able to catch up on their other shows too. Such a fun looking story. You could hear Paul and Andy really enjoying themselves with that nutty tale. And their thoughts about Shawn Engel were very touching. Shawn was a great guy loved by so many.

    Booster Gold – Always a pleasure to hear Andy Kapellusch on a podcast! Love his FILM & WATER appearances! I was fascinated by the Booster Gold history y’all shared about Dan Jurgens having to change Booster’s origin away from Superman. I’d never heard that before! While I echo your love for Booster Gold volume 2, I think you need to read more Booster Gold volume 1. Fun series!

    Martian Manhunter – Oh, Frank. That guy again. Yeah, I know him from his other podcasts and stuff. Sounds like a really nice Manhunter story that covers the origin without having to rehash too much of what was already covered recently in his own mini-series. And boy you are right! You can see the Darwyn Cooke similarity in those sample pages. WOW!

    Maxwell Lord – Always a pleasure to hear Doug Zawisza on a podcast! Love the times we’ve recorded with him on FIRE & WATER, plus his appearances on WAITING FOR DOOM. One small correction to Ryan’s recap of Max’s history… Max actually developed the mental powers after the Gene Bomb went off in INVASION. So he used them (mostly) responsibly for years before COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS.

    Again, a really great series of episodes! It made for a wonderful celebration of the JLI!! Great job by all your guests.. and I suppose you did okay too, Ryan.

  14. J’onn J’onzz is a character that I like quite a bit, but all because of seeing him in media outside of the actual comics. I first truly paid attention to him in the animated adaptation of New Frontier, which made me appreciate his presence on the Justice League cartoon all the more, and I now find him to be one of the highlights of Supergirl (a show that I appear to like much more than many other geeks… probably because again I know the characters but not in super detail so I don’t get that “THAT is not what *INSERT CHARACTER HERE* is supposed to act like” rage.)

    Max Lord is another character I know primarily thanks to Supergirl. I know plenty of people who seem annoyed at his depiction basically feeling like a thick haired Lex Luthor. Again, can’t say much for what’s changed from the source material but in more recent episodes they’ve done some good work to make him more of an untrustworthy and misguided figure and less of an outright villain.

    As for Booster Gold… honestly I’ve always wondered what the heck the deal with this guy was, and it’s nice to finally know. His superhero who really wants the credit and the perks angle immediately reminded me of Captain Amazing as played by Greg Kinnear in the Mystery Men film from the late 90s. Though it sounds like Captain Amazing would be the less of the “good guy deep down” version of the same shtick.

  15. In a recent First Strike! Podcast, Siskoid referred to me as “a ruiner,” and I expect I’ll be pulling the wettest blanket over Michael Jon Carter that I am capable of saturating. Fanboy discretion is advised.

    I bought Booster Gold #2 at a Circle K near the freeway that I rarely frequented, but liked because they were my only reliable source for Continuity Comics. I only bought the book because I read a house ad (in the issue?) that said you could get a free button for buying said comic, but retrospectively unsurprisingly, they probably meant in specialty shops only. I’m no button aficionado, so I only considered asking the Circle K employee about my free with purchase prize for half a second before I realized I didn’t care enough to bother. I read the book, and it was unexceptional, but I did marginally like the costume and the villain Blackguard. Familiarity also helped me through a crossover with Superman (only read the Superman side,) his induction into the Justice League, and his appearances in Millennium. He was great fun in “Moving Day,” he seemed useful enough in the Giffen/DeMatteis comics, and I read him in that one issue of his comic years ago, so he was okay with me.

    Then Justice League Spectacular happened. Jurgens and Jones were going to keep virtually all of Giffen & DeMatteis’ characters, and attempt some of their levity while also trying to tell stories closer to the Silver & Bronze Age JLofA model. It didn’t work, hard, full, squealing brakes and burnt tire smell stop. Comic book publishers are always looking for characters who sell themselves, regardless of quality, and the JLI without their signature talent was not something that people wanted. The cancellation of the JLI line of titles is often chocked up to overexpansion, but I would argue that the main problem was that the books were all staffed by underwhelming characters, specifically Booster, Beetle, Fire & Ice. Yes, the titles were also fairly rotten by that point, but I’d counter that they got to there because creators didn’t want to work with these characters nor in the shadow of the initial five year comedic run. Dan Jurgens had no facility with those characters, and in fact seemed to treat much of the prior run with contempt, so ideally Doomsday would have been where they swept out the lot and started over. Unfortunately, Jurgens ultimately restored most of those broken toys before his departure, leaving Dan Vado to treat us to the epic story of Booster Gold having to rebuild his suit with ugly, clunky 20th century technology and all that stuff where he mis-predicts the future and has his arm ripped off and Sweet Baby Jesus In A Manger Make It Stop! Then Extreme Justice. Then cancellation. Then Super Buddies making the above case for me. Then Geoff Johns doing a solo Booster Gold book in the Giffen/DeMatteis mold as best he could before giving the book over to the actual Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis before it still got cancelled.

    I’ve been talking about collateral damage, but let me get to the point that Booster Gold is possibly the worst long-lasting recognizable “super-hero” in the DC Universe. Despite tacking on an Aunt May in desperate need of her angina medication for this version, at the heart of the Booster Gold origin story is that he knowingly and personally profited from illegal betting on football games he intentionally threw. Setting aside that his mama needed an operation and his sister displayed a nasty case of destructive accusatory short term thinking with the robust aroma of martyrdom, Booster was a nitwit who partied on the underworld’s dime while offering clear and consistent evidence of fixing games that would have probably kept him out of the pros even if he hadn’t been arrested. His life a self-induced shambles, Booster then steals a bunch of technology, forces a hapless robot into servitude, and goes mucking about with the space-time continuum purely to aggrandize himself. Barring a killer redemption arc, this guy sounds like a super-villain.

    Booster Gold had nothing like a redemption arc for decades. He was a money grubbing opportunist who despite having every opportunity to make good is swindled out of his newfound and totally unearned fortune by his relative temporal/developmental equivalent to a merchant from the Middle Ages. For no reason other than his incompetence, Booster doesn’t just turn around and Biff Tannen himself another one, but instead pursues one hairbrained scheme after another with his equally underachieving buddy Blue Beetle. It was one of these episodes that rendered both characters forever toxic to me, on KooeyKooeyKooey.

    Booster and Beetle embezzled what in adjusted dollars would be billions from Maxwell Lord IV to build a resort casino on a previously undeveloped tropical island. We’re supposed to be laughing as things turn disastrous, but it literally is a catastrophe where innocent civilian lives are imperiled as tremors shake the place to the ground. Nobody died? Nobody got that badly hurt in the long run? How about the fact that Booster and Beetle are high stakes thieves who in turn unintentionally fund a super-villain team, wreck a previously unspoiled environment, put innocents in danger through their negligence, and nearly got at least one person killed? And unlike the Injustice League, the funds they took are never recovered, and they never spend a day in court, much less prison, which is what they deserved. These super buddy “scamps” are friggin’ criminals who robbed an enormous sum of money from a personal friend and benefactor! What is their punishment? Household chores. Which is too much to ask of Booster Gold, who quits in a huff to co-found The Conglomerate with Max’s ex-wife and rival. No wonder Max joined up with Checkmate to launch initiatives to suppress super-heroes. Marvel’s Civil War had a less compelling rationale than Max after his treatment.

    I look at the Secret Origin of Booster Gold, and the only black character is the hustler who tempts Carter to fall. Lip service is paid to their both growing up in the same poor neighborhood, but Carter is a local hero expected to be rich and famous once he’s gifted as a God-given right a scholarship for his athletic abilities. Snake Eyes doesn’t have those opportunities. Everybody knows he’s a crook and that’s all he’s expected to ever be, but he’s the one we’re supposed to blame for getting Carter in Dutch with the mob? If Snake Eyes had done the things Booster Gold and Blue Beetle did, would everyone have chalked it up to shenanigans, or would he be one of the few black faces in crowd scenes during Forever Evil and Underworld Unleashed? If Snake Eyes’ entire super-hero persona had been based on thieving from the Legion of Super-Heroes and enslaving a semi-sentient robot for his own ends, would readers be laughing along with him or demanding his comeuppance? When Booster Gold becomes corrupted and destroys his life, why did readers still root for him? Why is Snake Eyes less deserving of redemption, when he’s at least up front with his disrepute to the point of firmly warning Booster not to succumb to a lifestyle he certainly had less of a choice in assuming?

    Booster Gold is the super-heroic icon of white male privilege. He served on “international” teams that for years were made up solely of Caucasians by birth or choice. He has powers and opportunities he never earned and has committed gross injustices that he will never be punished for. He loudly demands respect and acknowledgement while offering none in return. Despite never being any kind of sales success, he’s been floated two ongoing series and numerous mini-series while being a prominent member of a slew of teams and has rarely left the public eye for any length of time in thirty years. He’s blown through fortunes and women without much seeming regard or appreciation for either. He’s a braggart despite rampant naked insecurities and a long history of failures in his profession. Despite all this, he’s endeared himself to a small but rabid following, and his next second chance is always right around the corner. Booster is Donald Trump in spandex, and don’t it make your white collar gold?

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