One minor thing in comics I’ve been digging in the past couple years is the “This Year in _____” pages that come out of the first issue. We haven’t had too many of them, but they’re pretty memorable when we do get them. For instance, Batman and Robin #1 featured a final page that depicted such things as Damian leaving in a huff to work on his own, Red Hood with a new sidekick, Batman and Batwoman fighting it out while Bruce Wayne Batman rises from the Lazarus Pit and a foreboding image of Doctor Hurt holding up the keys to Wayne Manor. All of these happened, as should be expected.
It’s probably one of the coolest concepts Geoff Johns has brought to the table in recent years and I say that knowing full well about his space cat that pukes acid blood powered by hate. When you start out a new series, it’s tough as is. Even if you have big plans several issues down the line, you have to win over the reader with both the first story and – more importantly – the contents of the first issue. This is more of a pitfall of Marvel, as their series tend to get cut to pieces by the fifth or sixth issue. Sorry, Jeff Parker. I think the teaser pages could really help some comics succeed in the long run. DC gave Magog a full twelve issues before finally cancelling it. It wouldn’t have hurt to get Giffen’s opinion on four developments planned that could have been exciting enough to bring up. Like a panel of Magog… uh… teaming up with the Shield? And the time he… um… Wait, I got this one. When he… Did I mention the Shield team-up? Okay, as much as I liked the series, maybe Magog isn’t the best example, but you know what I mean.
As far as I know, there have been four instances of the teaser pages, but feel free to correct me. There’s the aforementioned Batman and Robin #1 as well as Justice Society of America #1. I don’t read JSA, so I’m not going to talk about it in-depth, but I’ll touch on a little something later. The other two come from the same book, Booster Gold. Now that it’s moved to its latest creative team, I think now’s as safe a time as any to look back at what we were promised by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz. Here we go, looking at the past about the future that’s become the past about a new future of a character from the past who came from the future. Sorry, what were we talking about?
This page comes from the end of Booster Gold #1.
Panel 1: Brainiac 5 is actually among the first superheroes Booster has ever interacted with in continuity. In his original series from the ’80’s, Booster Gold #8 showed that when Booster initially came to the 20th century, he made a name for himself by saving Ronald Reagan from a forgettable supervillain with such a reputation that Vice President George Bush practically shit himself in realization. A couple representatives from the Legion of Superheroes come to this time to get their hands on Booster, knowing that he’s getting by with a Legion flight ring. See, on one hand, we know that Booster swiped it from a superhero museum from his time era. On the other hand, Booster’s era is about 500 years before the Legion of Superheroes exist. So what’s the deal? That’s what Brainiac 5 and the rest want to know.
Long story short, the ring that Booster originally stole is one that Brainiac 5 gave to Ronald Reagan and never took. They decide not to bring Booster back to his time period because he really does want to be a superhero and it seems time wants him to be there. The Legion make their leave, but warn Booster that they’ll be checking up on him to make sure he’s on the level.
That history lesson said, the previewed scenario never happens in any capacity.
Panel 2: This one is really strange to look at in retrospect. Man, where to start? I guess I should start at the date. Being that the first 52 weeks are in regards to the comic 52, the panel here is depicting Countdown to Final Crisis as a full year, leading directly into what appears to be some kind of Final Crisis tie-in development that never came to be based on Batman bringing the JLI back together. At the very least, there were hints elsewhere that they were planning on going in this direction. The new Crimson Viper was getting a lot of playtime in Johns’ Green Lantern run and the same run featured a scene where Batman was said to be very impressed with a certain member of the Rocket Red team. Then in the pages of Blue Beetle, we had Booster, Fire, Ice and Guy Gardner help out Jaime, leading to a celebration barbecue where Guy noted that Batman was definitely trying to pull the team back together for some unknown reason. No idea what the story is with Aquaman and his tights.
Again, this scenario doesn’t happen. You even have Martian Manhunter there when he’s killed moments into the miniseries. Yet it does show some similarities with a story arc in Booster Gold where he rescues Ted Kord via time travel and it causes the present to become a horrible reality where Max Lord rules over the world and almost all the heroes have been wiped out. This leads to a team put together to take Max down made up of Booster, Beetle, Batman, Fire, Ice, Guy Gardner, Martian Manhunter, Dr. Light and Mr. Miracle. The date is wrong, it isn’t the Final Crisis, the skies aren’t red and the team is a little over half accurate, but close enough.
Panel 3: Finally, something that happens! During the aforementioned alternate timeline where Max Lord rules the world, we find out that the true mastermind of this is not so much Booster’s father as Supernova. Inside his brain is Mr. Mind himself, controlling him all this time. Supernova vomits out thousands of Mr. Mind’s children and they engulf Booster until he remembers to send them away with his force field. The one caveat is the date in the preview. While it ends up happening in the present (or a version thereof), the teaser says it’s supposed to happen months after the Final Crisis. A 32 week difference between those two panels ended up becoming about a half hour.
Panel 4: I fucking love this panel so much. I really do. If there was ever a “COMICS ARE AWESOME!” panel for me, it would be this. It is the right way to do the teaser page because it tells the reader exactly why to stick around. I remember when this issue came out, there were people saying, “It was a good issue and all, but sweet Jesus that last page!” Even if an issue or two don’t rub you the right way, you’ll still stick with it just on the promise of this totally sweet development on the horizon.
This one did come to pass and became the crux of the Johns/Katz run. As I – and I’m sure many others – feared, it wouldn’t completely see itself through in the end. Yes, Booster and the other Beetles did team up to save Ted Kord from Max Lord. But thanks to Black Beetle and the butterfly effect, it screwed up the timeline something fierce. Ted sacrificed himself in an ill-defined way and he’s been in a weird state of writer limbo ever since. Johns and Katz blatantly show him alive at the end of their final issue, Booster Gold #1,000,000, albeit in the shadows. Unfortunately, DC feels no need to ever capitalize on that and Dan Jurgens brought in a possible out that it could have been a senior-aged Booster Gold. Part of me holds onto hope that the Blue Beetle running around with Booster in the current story arc is really this time-displaced Ted Kord.
With the Johns/Katz run over, their final issue gives us another teaser page to play around with to show what Dan Jurgens’ run had to offer. Let’s look at the last page of Booster Gold #1,000,000.
They dropped the dates this time around. Good idea.
Panel 1: The following couple issues would be written by Chuck Dixon and would indeed involve Booster’s sister Michelle dressing up as Batgirl. While she does have a run-in with Barbara Gordon and Alfred armed with a shotgun, there’s no interaction with Robin.
Panel 2: In the same time period as the Batgirl situation, Booster meets up with the new superhero Elongated Man and they briefly team up over the mystery of a stolen knife. I’m not so sure if Ralph ever utters his catchphrase, but the scenario is definitely sound. Booster gets in a tussle with a mysterious time travel villain and gets sucked into a vortex while Elongated Man and Skeets look on.
Panel 3: I like this one because it isn’t completely certain who is talking. My first guess is Cyborg Superman and that is indeed who it turns out to be, but it also has the possibility of being Max Lord as Lord Havok. That made the preview more intriguing. Who knows, maybe it could have tied into that Elseworlds story where Booster and Lord Havok ruled Warworld in the future. Anyway, this is part of the final arc of Jurgens’ run and thank God for it. His run wasn’t awful or anything, but I was really starting to lose my interest and patience. I may have dropped it if it wasn’t for the fact that Cyborg Superman is one of my favorite villains.
Michelle escapes from the life of time travel superheroics and hangs out several years in the past. She falls in love with a guy and they travel through Coast City. Bad, bad timing on her part, as this is right before Cyborg Superman blows the place sky high. Booster gets involved and briefly gets in a scrap with Cyborg Superman before getting Michelle and escaping. It doesn’t play into the dialogue from that preview, which highly suggests that Booster’s up against someone who had already experienced the events of 52, where Booster had “died” previously.
Panel 4: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Again?! Really?! Like, I was willing to give it a pass the first time because they at least had a scene where Rip Hunter and Daniel Carter suckerpunch Brainiac 5 and steal some of his tech, but then they go and say, “No, wait! We really are going to do that scene! Really! Well, this other guy is!”
It never happens. Maybe Giffen and DeMatteis will find a spot for Brainiac 5 and that dinosaur.
Like I said before, I never read much JSA, but it was the first instance of them doing a teaser page and I have an anecdote to go with it, so here it is.
The first panel really sparked some discussion when the issue came out. As you see, Batman and a mystery man in the shadows are portrayed as being in the Justice League. Now, this came out during 52 and it was during the point when Booster was believed to be dead. Another thing is that there was a rule that DC writers weren’t supposed to use any of the 52 main characters in their stories until the series was over. Sure, some got namedropped and Kurt Busiek used Black Adam in the pages of his Camelot Falls storyline anyway, but they were pretty tight-lipped about who would come out of the comic alive. People were excited about this panel because, well, look at the guy! You can’t make out his color scheme, but he’s got the tights and the hair. Sweet! Not only is Booster Gold alive, but he’s going to be in the Justice League!
Oh, wait. It’s just Geo-Force.
You assholes did that on purpose. You know damn well that nobody outside of Meltzer and Didio give a damn about Geo-Force.
I just remembered the cover to Booster Gold #1, which shows him flying through a pile of cards with different DC characters shown on them. Almost all of them would have some role in the series, such as Jonah Hex, Green Lantern Sinestro, Rex Hunter, Supernova, Max Lord, Mr. Mind and, yes, even Brainiac 5. But it’s also worth noting that it also suggested appearances by the Question (Vic Sage) and Dark Knight Returns Robin. Booster interacting with Dark Knight Returns… That would have been something, to say the least.
Then there’s Rip Hunter’s chalkboard and… wow. So maybe it is a good idea that DC doesn’t do these teaser pages too often. How can they tell us their future when even they can’t keep it straight?