(This article contains SPOILERS for Batman #45. You have been warned.)
In the latest issue of Batman (#45, which was released April 18), we are introduced to a Gotham gone very wrong. The Joker gas is spreading unchecked, turning everyday citizens (and even superheroes like Green Lantern) into uncontrollable lunatics.
Tim Drake is an engineer. Jason Todd is selling tires. Neither ever became Robin. Damian Wayne is never born because Talia al Ghul never found a worthy man. Duke Thomas is not protecting Gotham as the Signal because he has been lobotomized to save him from being “Jokered.”
Batman exists, but instead of the Dark Knight we know, he is a gun-toting, grenade-tossing, “kill them before they become a threat” Dick Grayson.
It is not a pretty sight, but the issue does feature this awesome Jim Lee “pseudo-virgin” cover. It’s the first of a new concept by DC that removes the logo and puts the comic name, number, and credits on the bottom of the book to not distract from the art.
So what happened to Gotham? Two words: Booster Gold.
When he heard of Batman’s upcoming nuptials to Catwoman, Booster decided to give Bruce Wayne a present. What do you give the man that has everything? You give him a look at what the world would look like without him.
Booster went back in time and stopped Thomas and Martha Wayne from getting murdered. He thought it would make Bruce appreciate the impact he has had on the world.
However, since this Bruce Wayne never had that traumatic event in his life, he never had to learn how important sacrificing for justice can be. Bruce has no interest in putting things back to “normal.” He just wants to finish a dance with his mother at his birthday party.
Here is the problem with the entire concept. In a recent 6-issue arc that started in Action Comics #993 (February 2018), Booster chased Superman back to Krypton right before it’s destruction. Booster knew that Superman’s presence alone could destroy history as we know it.
So the question is, why would a guy that just traveled across decades (and the universe) to stop Superman from screwing up creation be so cavalier about the timeline a few months later?
It is possible it is a poor use of the character, but another explanation could be that he didn’t. Perhaps this isn’t the same Booster Gold.
Since Booster is a time-traveler, this idea to turn Bruce Wayne into George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life could easily have come from a much younger Booster who is more naïve, and more interested in impressing Batman.
It took Booster years to learn how destructive messing with time can be, so perhaps this Booster has not yet had those experiences.
Whether or not this comes to pass, it will be interesting to see how Booster Gold gets Gotham out of this mess. He’ll eventually have to enlist Batman’s help, since, you know, it is his book. Check out the next two chapters of “The Gift” trilogy in Batman #46 and #47, available May 2 and May 16, respectively.
Oh, and if you are interested in the story Booster mentions about Superman and the orchid, check out the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons classic “For the Man Who Has Everything…” in Superman Annual #11 (August 1985).
by Rob Otto