The first "half," seen above, is pretty standard. Booster Gold, posing in front of a cityscape. It looks as though the city is probably Metropolis, which has been Booster's base of operation fairly frequently during his time as a superhero, so nothing particularly new there. Seen from just the right angle, it could be Pittsburgh, which is where Booster operated from in the wake of 52 and prior to the Flashpoint Crisis, but it's unlikely, especially as the pointed building near Booster's left elbow lacks an antenna, which would be characteristic of the most recognizable building shaped like that in Pittsburgh.
In any event, it is, as we noted above, the second image in the cover that's really interesting.
The world behind him is the same city, albeit decimated. But that's not really the interesting thing, since really that's a recurring motif on many of these covers.
Some more specific observations, though:
The damages is, at least in part, done by flooding. If you look at the "ground" behind Booster, the city is now below sea level. So this isn't just some "all the superheroes are evil and society is crumbling" thing. There are forces of nature at work.
Probably nothing, but it seems that between the two images, there's no time-travel. Instead, it looks as though they're taking place at the same time -- perhaps on parallel earths? I'm basing this on nothing except the clouds, which don't change as the sky darkens and the buildings crumble.
One of those tigers is royalty. If you'll note the color scheme and the silver headband, that's Prince Tuftan behind Booster's left side. Tuftan, who first appeared in Kamandi #4, was the prince of Roam, capital city of the Wildlands. He was the son of Great Caesar and the betrothed of Lady Tawna. In the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths stories of Earth-AD, Tuftan often found himself torn between his royal station and his friendship with the "talking animal" Kamandi, with whom he would go on adventures.
Does this mean that the Booster Gold story is taking place on Earth-AD? That the New 52 is destined for that destiny? If we're only five years away from the Great Disaster, does it have anything to do with The Multiversity, and/or whatever it is that the Anti-Monitor is up to? The last time we saw a world where we were doomed to live through the Great Disaster was during Final Crisis, which seems connected, at least on a surface level, to both of those things, even if Final Crisis may not technically have happened on New 52-Earth.
...and now the big one. Booster's outfit, and what it means for the title.
There are a few things at play here. First of all, it seems to suggest that the endgame for Futures End -- and possibly for whatever comes next? -- has been on DC chief creative officer Geoff Johns's mind for some time now.
We've only seen Booster in that get-up once before; at the end of Justice League International Annual #1, when an older version of Booster showed up, wearing that uniform, and cautioned the younger about something they needed to stop. Moments later, Superman and Wonder Woman kissed for the first time and both Boosters vanished. Much later, the younger version of Booster was seen, albeit with his memories missing, in the Old West in the pages of All-Star Western.
What could all this have to do with the current batch of time-travel? Well, we've speculated that Booster may actually be aware of the pre-Flashpoint Universe.
Booster was outside of time when the universe reset during Flashpoint, having been shunted to Vanishing Point (his Time Master headquarters on the edge of the timestream) just as it was happening. This is because Booster was the only DC hero besides The Flash who actually went to the Flashpoint universe. As a guardian of the timestream, he detected that something big had happened, and went to investigate it.
After having returned with his costume shredded and body bloodied from a battle with Doomsday, though, we saw him gradually lose his memory of what had just happened (and apparently more), before announcing to no one in particular that he needed a new suit.
So, that’s pretty cut-and-dry, right? He doesn’t remember. But it’s not quite that simple.
“I think it’s fairly clear Booster remembers being a Time Master because he recognizes Vanishing Point,” former Booster Gold writer/artist Dan Jurgens told us back in 2011 (Jurgens will write the Booster Gold: Futures End story). “He wasn’t confused by where he was… only how he got there. His reason for going there and methodology used are what puzzle him.”
In Justice League International Annual #1, when the A.R.G.U.S. logo-wearing Booster above came back from the future, he among other things referenced working with Rip Hunter. That’s interesting because during Booster’s Time Master days in the most recent volume of his solo book, Rip Hunter was his immediate supervisor (and, unbeknownst to Booster, his son due to the magic of time travel).
That version of Booster seemed, to those of us who had read it, to coincide with an older version of Booster who had appeared periodically during his solo title, and the Time Masters: Vanishing Point miniseries that ran alongside the Return of Bruce Wayne event. That older, wiser Booster (pictured at right) was the one who was the father of Rip Hunter, and frequently appeared at key moments in the story to secretly advise Rip, or to quietly influence events without being noticed by his younger self.
In the previous volume of Booster Gold, Jurgens and Johns set up Older Booster as the Time Master, and so we had speculated that he would know about the New 52 relaunch becuase it isn't the kind of thing that would escape his attention. Even if he didn't, though, certainly he's got some kind of insight into what's going on in the DC Universe, since he's already established as coming from the future and working with Rip Hunter.
Could this version of Booster's appearance here suggest that the events of Futures End go back not, as many believed, to the creation of Brother Eye but even further -- to the genesis of Superman's and Wonder Woman's relationship? Could it be that two so powerful beings entering into a coupling may have set the stage for a humanity terrified enough of metahumans to accept something like Brother Eye?
It's also worth noting that the bulky armor of Booster's costume certainly looks more 21st Century than his regular gear. Could the power suit from the future have been damaged at some point, leading to a bigger, less-advanced look? It's happened before, albeit not in the New 52 and not in any story that people want to remember. It's also fairly similar to the look Dan Jurgens gave Rip Hunter when he reinvented him for the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe timeline as a member of the time-tossed Linear Men. Meanwhile, Booster's Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring appears to be missing in the A.R.G.U.S. uniform image. Could it be that something happening in the past has altered the future to such an extent that Booster's future tech never comes to be, or never falls into his hands? If so, how would he be Booster Gold? (So, yeah, that one's pretty farfetched).
Lots to consider from one image (well, kind of two).
Oh, and as a parting gift, here's a hastily-created GIF since the Booster Gold book isn't one of the ones where DC has finished the cover animation: