Booster Gold f*cked up last issue. Real bad. Like I said in my review, “[through Booster Gold, writer Tom] King has done something so deplorable that it’d make George R.R. Martin spit from his goblet of Game of Thrones fans’ tears.”
As a result, and as you might surmise from the cover of Batman #47, which features a rage-filled Batman backhanding Booster Gold off a rooftop, screaming “Booster Gold must die!” — Booster is in some deep s--t. (Turns out Bruce Wayne is pretty good at the whole vengeance thing, no matter the reality.) How much worse can things get in Bruce Wayne and Booster Gold’s bogus journey through time?
The finale of “The Gift,” starts off with Skeets (Booster Gold’s robotic companion) being reactivated (Bruce Wayne smashed him back in Batman #45), Bruce Wayne (who, again, had to witness something that has made him even more of a vengeance-charged psychotic than the one we’re used to in our reality) engaged in target practice on a pair of Batman and Catwoman practice dummies with some high-powered automatic weaponry (no “no gun rule” here) and a bedraggled Booster Gold chained up in a cave. Sound weird? This is all before Bruce Wayne and Booster travel back in time to prevent the murder of Bruce’s parents.
Although the entire issue hinges on one very specific and very important point in Bruce Wayne’s life, King’s narrative is both bizarre and fascinating throughout. The dialogue is top-notch, as this time around we’re given not only the hilarious, non-stop quibbling between Booster and Skeets — but Booster and a no-nonsense to the nth degree Bruce Wayne as well. There are plenty of chuckle-worthy scenes that show off King’s comedic chops and a fourth-wall breaking moment that, as illogical as this might have sounded even a year ago, has me curious to see what King could do with a character like Deadpool — because why not?
Equally impressive are the bleak alternate reality and the atypical (compared to the one we know) Bruce Wayne that King has managed to put together in fully realized fashion in such short order. The path which this Bruce takes following catastrophe results in a vigilante far more grounded than a world’s greatest detective/best fighter alive/most brilliant tactician conflation, but one whose dangerous, resourceful and obsessive idiosyncrasies are still evident. Seeing a Bruce Wayne like this makes us thankful our Batman turned out the way he did — because we’ve seen Batman’s origin so many times, it’s sometimes easy to gloss over the fact that a childhood trauma like the one Bruce experienced could have easily resulted in a tragic, flawed character of a very different nature — one far more broken and changed for the worse. Although this alternate reality isn’t one we’ll want to revisit anytime soon (for how disheartening it can be) — it’s further demonstration of King’s creative vision and when all is said and done, his very singular take on the titular character.
As hilarious as Booster (with Bruce as his comedic foil) can be, his rambling goes on a little long at times and detracts from the overall pace. The art by Tony S. Daniel (pencils, inks), Danny Miki and Sandu Florea (inks) and Tomeu Morey (colors) while solid — particularly in a character’s surprise appearance towards the end, a sequence where the actions of characters in the past mirror those taking place in the present and the texture on Booster’s robust beard — looks a bit rushed and uneven on some pages. That being said, Daniel crafts powerful, striking imagery (one image towards the end will remind you of the very first page from Batman #45) and his facial expressions always elicit pertinent emotion.
Is It Good?
Although “The Gift” is essentially an Elsewords story, the best ones in the category both question what could have been under different circumstances (even if those circumstances seem ostensibly better for the character overall) while reinforcing the importance of our protagonist’s existence. This is one of those stories.