Every Tuesday and Thursday, I post excerpts from my best-selling at not-selling super blog, Playing Favorites.
Alright, I think my two weakest picks are Booster Gold and Damian Wayne. Booster Gold is a slacker who only does good because he benefits from it. Well, most of the good he does is because he benefits. He’s still a decent guy at heart. Damien is a self-centered, entitled little jerk who thinks hurting people will solve the problems they represent. Damian is great because he’s a living chariacture of so many other Batmen.
So what is it about these two guys that earn them a chance to get in? My first impulse is to say that they both want to be good, but the fact of the matter is that Booster Gold doesn’t want to be any more good than any average person. The thing about Booster Gold is that he believes in other heroes and he serves as a measure for them. Even the noblest of irrelevant heroes (Aztec) shines brightly when they’re standing by Booster Gold. Heck, even his famous bromance with The Blue Beetle makes The Blue Beetle look goody-goody and gives other heroes the opportunity to save the duo from Booster Gold’s zany schemes. He’s not blind to this; he knows that the contributions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern are far greater than what he will ever achieve. He doesn’t try to be them, granted, but he also tries to help them however he can. As much as any modern hero, Booster Gold is the regular guy who would love to be an A-List hero, but who’s already come to terms with the fact that he needs a bigger paycheck and more me-time than that caliber of hero can afford.
Damian is in many respects, the opposite of that. Damian is an elite fighter who will one day punch the world in the face whenever it screws up (or whenever it doesn’t; his call, really). He’s got all of the dedication, skill, and desire to be a top-flight hero, but none of the understanding. Whatever you say about Booster Gold, even if he’s not currently being selfless, resolute, or idealistic, he understands those things. Damien, on the other hand, can’t understand why he can’t just cripple criminals. Why he can’t beat up the Joker in a locked room with a crowbar. Why so much of what Batman does has to involve understanding criminals.
So Damian has desire and skill and Booster Gold has perspective. I don’t think it needs to be said that heroes are composites of virtues; that no one skill can make a compelling superhero (even taking the word at face value, you’d need at least two). Indeed, these guys are both extremes of things a hero isn’t (selfish and lackadaisical, respectively) mixed with standards for what they are, standards that in their cases are more notable for their individual failings. I believe in some part that it’s these contrasts which draw me to the characters.