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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Superhero Sunday: The Gold Standard

Bruce Wayne dons a cowl and cape to protect the innocent and dispense justice as Batman - motivated by the death of his parents at the hands of a mugger. Peter Parker gained powers from a radioactive spider bite, and fights crime as Spider-Man under his late Uncle Ben's mantra "With great power comes great responsibility." Hal Jordan was chosen by the power ring itself to become Earth's Green Lantern. Every superhero origin story is filled with altruism, a sense of responsibility, and a desire for justice.
Well, almost every superhero origin story.
Michael Jon "Booster" Carter was a successful football player in 25th century Gotham City . . . until he was busted for gambling on his own games. Disgraced, Carter ended up working as a guard at a museum in Metropolis that housed superhero paraphernalia from previous centuries. Eventually, Carter hit upon the possibility (and potential profit) of becoming a 20th century superhero. He swiped a handful of exhibits that would be highly advanced technology back in time and transported himself to Reagan-era Metropolis.
Superman was mysteriously absent at the time, so Carter had little trouble establishing himself as the new superhero on the block, even saving the President in one case. Intending to call himself Goldstar, Carter flubbed his announcement - immediately after saving the President - and wound up adopting the name Booster Gold.
Booster Gold's flashy costume, movie-star good looks, and charismatic personality quickly secured him a role as a celebrity superhero. Carter's slick self-promotional know-how allowed him to market that celebrity into considerable profit.

Often, Booster Gold's lack of a selfless motivation leads to his own downfall, and he is not widely accepted among other superheroes in the DC Universe. When he fell on hard times he joined a few superhero teams - often full of second and third-stringers like himself - but personalities often clashed. He did, however, meet Ted Kord - the Blue Beetle - during his tenure with the re-vamped Justice League, and the two became fast friends. The duo teamed up in both crime-fighting and in entrepreneurial pursuits with mixed results across the board.
In the real world, Booster Gold is surprisingly popular for a superhero who's only been around since 1986. There are a number of websites and fan videos devoted to the flawed hero, and he has been a favorite recurring character on Cartoon Network's Justice League Unlimited and  Batman: the Brave and the Bold, as voiced by Tom Everett Scott.
Perhaps it is the fact that Booster Gold is a bit less than heroic that people identify with so closely. Perhaps we are waiting and hoping for Booster Gold to "grow into" his profession, because we want to believe that - no matter the initial motivation - the simple act of doing the right thing can bring out the best in us.

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