If you want to read a really unusual issue of Batman, well, you’ve come to the right place.  However, Batman #45 isn’t so much a Batman story as it is a Booster Gold story featuring Batman.  That sentence alone might be all that some of you need to know in order to opt out of picking this issue up.  But for other people, it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Personally, I’m on the fence about it.  There isn’t really anything here that I wholeheartedly disliked, but it’s also not the kind of story that I typically find immensely riveting either.

As things start off, we join Booster Gold and Green Lantern floating in the air above a burning city.  With nothing more than that, I was already bewildered.  But then, Green Lantern proceeds to blast himself in the face with his own power ring!?!  Ok…  What the heck is going on?

That look on Gold’s face pretty much says it all.

The scene feels like this completely random insert, and I have no idea why it took place.  But what it really felt like to me was one of those comic fan discussions that occur over random what-if scenarios.  You know, the kind where everyone has been sitting up talking about comics till 2 in the morning and just starts throwing out all kinds of hypotheticals.  This one being: is Green Lantern’s willpower enough to over ride the ring’s programing to stop him from harming himself?  Spoilers!  It is.

Fortunately, we find out very quickly that this entire story is merely one giant what-if scenario.  It’s an Elseworld, with all details being spontaneously generated from the mind of the writer and not necessarily requiring any kind of adherence to the established comic world our characters usually inhabit.  As such, I don’t have to stick to my usual penchant for pointing out everything that is “wrong” since, technically, all of it is.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It means that the writer is free to indulge in anything they like and I’m free to just go along for the ride, however crazy it may be.

The only negative I usually have about stories like these is that, because they are happening in a kind of pocket world that doesn’t truly exist or won’t exist once our heroes correct whatever imbalance created them, it means they don’t matter.  They matter in the moment, but don’t typically have repercussions to the larger ongoing narrative.  And that is what I like.  Seeing the character’s lives progress down a natural path, not inundated with all kinds of random “it was just a dream” plots.

But once you get past all the randomness and the “this isn’t really happening” aspect of the story, it’s really very funny.  In fact, that’s the biggest take away I have from this story.  It made me laugh.  Multiple times.  And that’s not necessarily something I do too freely.  I know, I’m a grump.

Favorite Line from this issue:

Booster Gold is the Kite Man of the Justice League.

Hands down, the largest contributor to all the funniest moments is simply the relationship and banter shared between Booster and Skeets.  It’s interesting how King seems to have a real knack for these kind of off-the-wall goofbally characters.  I really hated King’s “I Am Suicide” arc, but totally fell in love with his depiction of Punch and Jewlee.  To the point that I’d even buy a King miniseries featuring those two.  And just from what I’ve seen so far of King’s work on Booster and Skeets, I’d probably be willing to buy a King miniseries featuring those two as well.

Aside from the opener with Green Lantern, there are 3 other randomly inserted scenes that are loosely based on what is happening in the rest of the story, but aren’t directly connected to the Booster narrative.  And at this point in the story, it’s unclear as to why they were inserted at all.  One is primarily inserted for laughs (which is fair), another provides what seems like extraneous information (which is ultimately unnecessary at this time), but the third just seems downright cruel to me (and kind of made the issue not so funny for the second I was on that page).

It’s just a one-page check-in on the Duke of this universe, as an invalid, being feed cereal.  It switches things up, because in the actual continuity Duke’s parents were mentally compromised by Joker gas, but in this universe, he is mentally incapable.  I feel like it’s a commentary on how King feels about Duke.  Like, he was handed this character that he really doesn’t want to include, so he usually finds ways to exclude him.  But now, it just feels like he is taking cheap shots at the character.  Personally, I just wouldn’t have put it there.  It seems in somewhat poor taste to me, and isn’t very funny.  I’m not sure.  It just seems to break up the narrative of the story for no real reason.  Not that there aren’t other scenes that do that too, but this one also adds unwanted heckling that seems untoward.

Art for this issue was handled by Tony S Daniel, and I’ve got to say, I miss this guy.  Not sure what he has been working on lately, but it wasn’t anything I was reading.  So, it’s nice to see him back here in the pages of Batman.  Daniel’s art has what I like to call the “what you think of when you think of comic book art” look.  While some might consider it boring since it doesn’t present a truly distinctive style, I quite enjoy it.

The story ends on a twist that I completely didn’t see coming and runs contrary to other past stories that have presented heroes with similar choices.  With a fresh take on this particular formula, the doors are now wide open for anything to happen and I can’t wait to see what that something is.

Odds and Ends:

  • Did anyone else notice that after Hal blasted himself in the face and was falling away from Booster, his ring and head wound jumped from the right to left side of his body?

Interesting Facts:

Kinda looks like he should have been decapitated by that door slam.

  • Remember that time Booster Gold got his head slammed in a car door by Doomsday?  In my mind, this is simply the most memorable event involving this character.  Someone simply says Booster Gold or the character shows up in a story and this is literally always the first thing that jumps into my head.  So, yeah.  Had to share it.
  • In case you aren’t familiar with this event, it’s from “The Death of Superman” storyarc from 1992.

Recommended if…

  • You are a Booster Gold fan.
  • You want to laugh.
  • You enjoy what-if scenarios.

Overall:

When I started reading this issue I was confused and underwhelmed, but by the end I was laughing out loud and genuinely intrigued by the unexpected nature of the cliffhanger.  The majority of the aforementioned humor springs forth from the dynamic at play between Booster Gold and Skeets, which King did an excellent job of nailing.  And while I wouldn’t categorize this as a Batman story, more of a Booster Gold story featuring Batman characters, I feel I should forewarning those of you out there who pick up Batman titles expecting to see completely Batman centric stories that that’s not what you are getting here.  But despite that, it’s still quite entertaining.

SCORE: 8 / 10