Will Booster Gold Remember the World Before Flashpoint?

All-Star Western #19

With Booster Gold finally, officially confirmed as appearing in the upcoming All-Star Western #19 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat, many fans are beginning to wonder whether the time-traveling Justice League International leader will remember the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe.

First, a little context: given the lengths to which DC has gone to be sure that none of their characters remember the not-so-old days, the question itself might seem a little off-base. Except that Booster Gold is a special case.

He 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.

Pages from Booster Gold #47After 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. "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, a slightly older version of Booster Gold came back from the future, where he apparently worked with A.R.G.U.S., arrived and, 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).

Old Booster Gold and Young Rip Hunter in Time Masters: Vanishing PointThat 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 Booster Gold, Volume 2, the older Booster was THE Time Master, with the secrets of the universe laid bare for him. It's pretty obvious, then, why seeing a version of that character had led many fans to wonder whether, when Booster reappeared after vanishing in the JLI Annual, he might come back with a more advanced understanding of the DC Multiverse. That the Booster Gold of the New 52 seems to be actually, physically the same person as he was before Flashpoint also instills people with a sense that he could be the Psycho-Pirate of Flashpoint--a character whose very existence could unravel the whole story for everyone else in the DCU.

Of course, there's really nothing to bolster that argument, and DC has denied it at convention Q&A sessions.

But here's where interest in the idea really spiked recently.

Geoff Johns, who wrote the character in 52 and in the first year of Booster's own ongoing in 2007 and 2008, is clearly a fan. He was the one who transformed Booster into a Time Master, and then who wrote the Justice League International Annual that reintroduced that element of his character. It's been hinted that Booster has something big coming up in solicitation text and convention appearances, and of course the biggest thing coming up at DC right away is Geoff Johns's Trinity War. That story will essentially set up a war between the Justice League factions, and set up something big that comes after it, by Johns's own admission. What could it be?

Well, Pandora--the mysterious woman whose first appearance was when she appeared to be overseeeing the transition between the old DC Universe and the New 52 at the end of Flashpoint--plays a key role in Trinity War. She and her fellow Trinity of Sin members being at the center of Trinity War has led many fans to speculate that it could be a story dealing with DC's Multiverse, opening the door for Grant Morrisoin's long-awaited Multiversity and changing the characters' understanding of the worlds around them.

Meanwhile, Superboy artist R.B. Silva has been working on something on his sketch blog recently--something that he's described in hashtags as a Justice League International project, with Booster Gold, Hawkman and Nightwing among those at the center of it. Word of these sketches hit the Internet back in January, but nothing has come of it yet. With Shazam, Hawkman and Booster Gold all on board the book, many fans speculated that Johns would be the perfect choice to write the series, which is packed with a number of his pet characters.

So if there were to be a major Booster Gold-related project spinning out of a big, multiverse-spanning epic, would that indicate a big shift in Booster's status quo? Maybe, but not definitely. But many fans are suspicious.

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Adding to that suspicion late in March and early in April was a series of reports that claimed that Booster would be playing a key, line-wide role in April and beyond, and that he would remember the pre-Flashpoint Universe. These reports, which claimed to come out of an anonymous artist speaking with fans at WonderCon, appear to have originated at the fan site Another Meal Ticket. While some fans, suspicious from the get-go that Booster's post-Flashpoint status quo would be a game-changer for the New 52, took the reports as confirmation of their beliefs, the story went live in the late hours of March 31, just before April Fools' Day, and the site--which self-identifies as a "news, rumors and gossip" site--hasn't updated anything on their page since. It seems the most likely conclusion to draw that the story (as well as a number of other, similarly-scintillating stories which never got picked up by other news outlets) are unsubstantiated rumor at best and an April Fools' Day prank at worst.

But that won't change the minds of people who have held suspicion on the issue since the beginning of the New 52--so we'll have to wait at least until All-Star Western hits to know for sure.