Booster Gold: Reality Lost with art by Dan Jurgens and writing by Dan Jurgens and Chuck Dixon, goes firmly in the "more fun comics" pile; not very much happens here right up until the very end, but having Dan Jurgens write and very solidly draw again the character he created -- especially in a rollicking tale of time paradoxes -- is worth the price of admission all on its own.
[Contains spoilers for Booster Gold: Reality Lost]
Jurgens and Dixon enlist a healthy dose of time-travel conceits in Reality Lost, and each serves to remind us why time travel stories are so much fun. To prevent a time anomaly, Booster must prevent the past Batman, Robin, and Batgirl from foiling a robbery by Killer Moth; the resulting chaos results in a scene where time-separated versions of Booster play almost every different character's role in the same scene, like something out of the Three Stooges.
Subsequently, Booster finds himself in such far-flung locations as ancient Egypt and World War I; he even intersects with his own previous adventures and teams up with himself. This isn't the first time Jurgens has drawn time-travel (see one of my favorites, Superman: Time and Time Again), and this story is highly reminiscent of that one. The cameo by Enemy Ace, for instance, is largely gratuitous, but there's a certain thrill in seeing modern heroes cast into war-torn Europe that you can only find in stories such as these.
One central idea examined in Reality Lost is how Booster and his compatriots are routinely manipulated -- by Time Master Rip Hunter, by the duties they've undertaken, even by time itself. The story takes a while to come around to this (not in the least because Jurgens picks up and alters the story Dixon starts), but we see it most strongly in Booster's being flung through time by a trio of chronally-charged knives, and in Booster's sister Goldstar's near-breakdown at realizing she's been resurrected from the dead.
I'm not familiar with Goldstar from Booster's original series, so I haven't been quite sure what to make of her bubbly, almost air-headed portrayal in Booster Gold: Blue and Gold and then her falling apart this time around. The quick change from happy to sad suggests an air of mania which, if this is Jurgens goal, he achieves aptly. Only, I hope Goldstar's disappearance at the end of this story doesn't signal the character's departure from the series (which would make her re-entrance last time something of a waste), but rather an indication that Jurgens has further tricks up his sleeve.
I also enjoyed the look at how Booster has matured, illustrated by the interaction Booster has with his own past self. While there's perhaps a bit too much shoulder-patting in this volume (if I have to hear Booster decry how he's the greatest hero the world will never know one more time, I'll scream), as we reach the twelfth issue (the end of the first full year), it's interesting to see how much more driven and darkened Booster is than when the series began.
Granted, there's only one volume between the beginning and this story, but obviously losing Blue Beetle -- a second time -- has taken its toll. It's in this way that I can appreciate Reality Lost as a sort of "checking in" on the Booster Gold series; nothing really happens other than Goldstar's departure, but in essence Jurgen takes stock of where the characters are after two volumes of the book and deals with the more subtle implications of Blue and Gold. As the new (returning) writer of Booster Gold after Geoff Johns, I can spot Jurgens one book of treading water before the title finds a direction again (and solicitations suggest it has indeed).
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention, in the days of title delays and rotating artists and inkers, that it's a sheer joy to read a collection of seven issues all drawn by Dan Jurgens with inks by Norm Rapmund. As someone who remembers fondly the days of Jurgens and inker Brett Breeding (and less fondly Jurgens with inks by Joe Rubinstein), I'd say Jurgens is at his best in this Booster Gold volume. I'm struck by how his art has grown more "widescreen" since the days of panels that didn't bleed off the page, and at the same time preserves Jurgens' trademark full and muscular figures . Having consistent art -- and good art, to boot -- in a collection makes a difference, and it's another reason why I rate this volume so highly.
Booster Gold: Reality Lost isn't a staggering, moving collection, but it's a quality comics tale, and hopefully we'll find it makes a nice bridge between the great previous volume and good things to come.
[Contains full covers, "Origins & Omens" tale]