I've always taken Smallville for what it is: a coming-of-age soap opera with all its trappings. I never really was a fan of it until I got roped into it by my friend, who faithfully watched the show from its beginning. I just couldn't reconcile the differences with continuity (the first example being how young Clark's parents are, the second being all these random superheroes originating in Smallville.) Anyway, when Smallville became the C-List Cameo Show a few seasons ago, and I heard the name "Maxwell Lord" uttered by my friend, I got drafted in. After giving her a DC Universe education, that is.
Geoff Johns wrote last week's Booster Gold episode, which instilled a little bit of confidence in me that one of my all-time favorite characters would be handled well. He did, after all, write a great run on Booster's solo book, which I rank as some of my favorite comic stories.
Well, I can't say I was overwhelmed by this episode, but I was just happy to see Booster Gold in live action.
The Visuals: I'm a nitpicker, and though the costume was shiny in the right places, it was lacking in others. This being Smallville, it was of course, leather, so I can forgive that, becuase every superhero costume on Smallville is leather. But I don't like fake abs. And no shiny gold pants = sadness. But it was a design I could live with.
Except for the awkward hanging crotch protector thingy. I honestly can't live with that.
I'm a big nitpicker for hair, I will admit to that. And Booster's hair was all wrong: it was just frosted blonde on the top, not all blonde, so the back of his head was brown. And his hair was just too short. For one of the DCU's most amazingest hair-dos, you've got to try harder to do it justice.
The Acting: Eric Martsolf played Booster more like his "52" incarnation: cocky, brash, self-promoting, and kind of a jerk. But a jerk with a heart of gold! I kind of prefer the screws-up-all-the-time-despite-hist-best-efforts Booster, but Martsolf played the ham quite well, and both my friend and I were entertained. And thanks to Geoff Johns, in the end of the episode we got to hear Booster talk about his insecurities, which I think is a big part of the character.
The Writing: Okay, I'm not a big Jaime Reyes fan. Not only did he start out as the replacement to Ted Kord, but I don't like the whole prisoner-of-the-scarab schtick. That's just too angsty for me, and it always seems like Jaime would fit better in the Marvel universe than the DC one. I prefer the plucky, industrious, corporate inventor Ted Kord Blue Beetle. Sorry, I just ain't letting go of Ted.
That being said, I actually liked Jaime Reyes here, which is saying a lot. He worked in the context of the Smallville universe: Geoff Johns, proving he is a master of things that make you go "awww, poor kid," (or known by the high-falutin' term, "character identification") shows Jaime being picked on by his peers involving a can of shaken soda, and just when you think things are looking up, a lovely girl comes over and hands him her can. Which then explodes in his face, proving the girl was in on it. Ouch.
Then the scarab escapes from Kord Industries and bonds with him, and things go downhill from there. Jaime comes to Booster for help, and in typical Booster fashion he brushes him off. Jaime (this time fully enclosed within the scarab armor and unable to control it) comes back to assassinate Booster. The resulting climax highlights both Jaime's need to control the scarab, and Booster's realization that he's a failure of a superhero. All of this plays out under the watchful eye of Clark Kent, who previously gave Booster his pearls of wisdom about a suit not making you a superhero, and Booster tells this to Jaime, and Jaime regains control of the suit. He then decides he'll keep the scarab and go on to fight evil with it. (Leading right into the Blue Beetle solo TV series...perhaps...) They seemed to depower Booster a bit, and though I kept yelling at the TV to "Use your force field, Booster! Use your force field!" he never did, so all he had on hand were his wrist blasters and Legion flight ring.
Right before the climax, my mother wandered into the room and after the usual questions, "Who's that guy?" which of course prompted the most cogent explanation of Booster Gold to date from myself: "It's Booster Gold, Ma. I like him because he's shiny! Look, I have his shirt!" And then we had to field all the Smallville-related questions about why there's the S-symbol but no one calls Clark Kent "Superman" and how come he's wearing a red leather jacket instead of a cape, and is that blonde girl supposed to be Lois Lane? Momma Liss = John Q. Public's view of superheroes. And kind of a vocal one. Anyway, she liked Jaime. "Oh, that poor kid!" was the verdict on Jaime.
There's also the typical intrigue of "is Booster good or isn't he?! Is he trying to take Clark's place?!" that is another staple of Smallville cameo episodes. The same was true of Ted Kord: "who is this guy working for?"
By the way.
I forgot to mention Ted Kord was in this episode.
I think I was more excited to see Ted Kord than I was Booster Gold. For one, the casting was dead on. Tell me this guy doesn't look like Ted:
Go ahead: tell me this guy doesn't look like Ted Kord and I will HIT you.
Not only that, but he seemed EXACTLY like the Ted Kord from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Which made me insanely happy for some reason, to see that B:TB&TB is having an influence on someone as mighty as Geoff Johns. Hopes that it might be renewed anyone? Maybe? Please? For those not familiar with Blue Beetle's appearances on B:TB&TB, he's quite a bit more serious than the Ted of the Bwa-ha-ha JLI days, and he's intelligent, dedicated, competent, and shown as the genius industrialist that he is. Which is one aspect of his character that often falls by the wayside: people forget he invented a whole ton of gadgets. Just like Batman. Only better. Like a gravity-defying airship that'll beat out a pansy Bat-Plane anyday.
There were no silly bwa-ha-ha moments here at all, becuase not only is Smallville is a pretty dark universe, but in this incarnation, Ted and Booster don't know each other.
I know, right?! It's like...sacrilege! But if they had known each other, then Ted would've vouched for Booster's reputation, and the plot would've flown right out the window. But Ted was here, he had a sizable role, and that made me happy, and he was onscreen enough for me to annoy my friend by shouting, "OMG IT'S TED KORD!" about every thirty seconds or so. And the best part is: Ted didn't die. No one did. See? Good stories can be written where all the characters live!
Everything tied up rather nicely, with Booster taking on a mentorship role to Jaime (much like in the comics) and Ted and Booster had a chance to meet each other. Diehard Smallville fans (like my friend) were excited becuase it was the first episode where Clark used a telephone booth to change into his "costume," such as it is. I can't say I was that excited about that, only becuase I can't believe that there are phone booths in big cities anymore, but I like the nostalgia it evinces.
The verdict: It made me happy. It made my friend happy. We ended the night watching the Booster Gold episode from Justice League Unlimited to make up for the lack of Skeets in the episode. Skeet's voice could be heard on Booster's little earpiece, but we didn't see him, and he wasn't sarcastic enough. No problem, though: JLU cartoon to the rescue!
Momma Liss's verdict: "This isn't Superman!" Truer words were never said.