Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are among DC Comics’ myriad of iconic duos. But in contrast to character pairings like Green Lantern and Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Icon and Rocket, Batman and Robin, The Flash and Kid Flash, Big Barda and Mister Miracle, and Midnighter and Apollo, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are two best friends whose relationship is deeply comedic at its core. As much as they would love for others to take them seriously, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are charming because of how little self-awareness they possess. Let’s dig into the friendship story of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.
The Origin Story of Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle and Michael Jon Carter a.k.a. Booster Gold
The particular Blue Beetle in this friendship with Booster Gold is not Jaime Reyes. As we know, Reyes will make his movie debut in the Blue Beetle movie. Instead, it is actually the second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord. (The first Blue Beetle was Dan Garret.) Steve Ditko created Ted Kord as a Charlton Comics character in 1966. After he joined the DC Universe in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, he developed into a squishier version of Marvel’s Iron Man. Like Tony Stark, Ted Kord is the head of a tech company, Kord Industries. He uses the company’s technology to build his own gadgets and superhero gear. But while Tony Stark is a confident womanizer, Ted Kord is a nervous wallflower.
In contrast, Michael Jon Carter a.k.a. Booster Gold is from the 25th century and uses his futuristic tech to be a superhero in the present. While he has a good heart, Booster is incredibly vain and overconfident. Created in 1986 by Dan Jurgens, Carter/Booster Gold is a satirical look at superheroism under capitalism.
When Did Booster Gold and Blue Beetle Become Friends in the Comics?
Ted Kord and Michael Jon Carter became friends after Carter joined the newly formed Justice League in its “Justice League International” era in the late 1980s. The team got its name from the fact that they were not based out of the Hall of Justice anymore, but out of an embassy in New York City. The Justice League had satellite teams based around the world, including Justice League Europe and even the Justice League Antarctica.
Justice League International reimagined DC’s flagship superhero team as a workplace comedy. It was about ordinary people caught in the trap of late-stage capitalism under Ronald Reagan. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold’s friendship was emblematic of this idea. Writer J.M. DeMatteis and artists Kevin Maguire and Keith Giffen were a dynamite creative team, capable of hitting comedic beats in the throes of action sequences. Even though its members included an alien (Martian Manhunter), two New Gods (Mister Miracle and his wife Big Barda), and an ever-grumpy Batman, the JLI’s problems were refreshingly down to Earth. They worried about filing their taxes, argued over the merits of Sylvester Stallone’s filmography, and expressed their disdain for yuppies.
Why Booster Gold and Blue Beetle’s Friendship Works
Within the events of Justice League International, it was logical for Blue Beetle and Booster Gold to become fast friends. Booster was good-looking and a former a college football player. However, neither he nor Beetle fit the bill for perfect superhero men. Ted startled easily, was reluctant to get his hands dirty in combat, cracked jokes at inopportune times, and would awkwardly try to ask out his crush, Wonder Woman. Booster, on the other hand, loved the spotlight of being a superhero. But he was ill-equipped to thrive as a normal person in the 20th century.
Where Booster was assertive, Beetle was timid, and where Beetle was prudent, Booster was impulsive. Under DeMatteis’ pen, Booster and Beetle’s friendship blossomed organically, as the two tried to make being a superhero a financially viable career. Later on, Justice League International got a new title, Justice League America, and Booster and Beetle were active members into the 1990s.
The Death of Ted Kord, Booster Gold’s Guilt, and the Rise of Jamie Reyes, a New Blue Beetle
In the 2000s, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold’s friendship took a much darker turn. Blue Beetle was murdered by his former Justice League International teammate, Maxwell Lord, in the lead-up to DC’s Infinite Crisis event in 2005. Later on, Booster blamed himself for failing to protect Beetle. The DC Universe was not without a Blue Beetle for long though, as Jaime Reyes debuted during Infinite Crisis.
Jaime Reyes signaled a different direction for the Blue Beetle mantle. Reyes was a teenager and not a CEO like Ted Kord. Likewise, Booster went his own path, taking on a much more significant role in the DC Universe’s time stream. His 2007 solo series by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz would eventually lead into the 2011 Flashpoint storyline. This came after the revelation that Booster was the father of the time traveler, Rip Hunter.
Ted Kord Returns and Their Friendship Goes to a New Level
Fortunately, with the relaunch of the DC Universe in 2016, Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle came back to life after making sparse appearances during DC’s New 52 era. The series Heroes in Crisis by Tom King and Clay Mann revealed the extent to which Booster helped Beetle with his trauma as a superhero. Issue four of the series had a therapy-focused take on superhero comics. In it, Beetle explained how Booster has always been there for him and the difference that made in his life. Beetle’s character went through dark moments, like dying at the hands of someone he once trusted. But Heroes in Crisis was a rare moment where Ted broke his usual comedic façade to speak candidly.
Most recently, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold’s friendship was explored at length in the 2021 series, Blue and Gold, by Dan Jurgens and Ryan Sook. The series followed the two buddies as they opened their own small business, Blue and Gold Restoration, after the Justice League turned them down. Booster became a content creator, livestreaming his and Beetle’s superhero activities. He hoped to build an audience that would make them A-list heroes again. The livestream comments peppered throughout the book make it clear that Blue and Gold are still seen as jokes outside of their small but loyal fanbase.
In Blue and Gold, Booster repeatedly referred to Beetle as his “sidekick,” which became a source of conflict between the two of them. Beetle acknowledged that he lacked self-confidence and that Booster’s over-confident nature was enough for both of them. However, their partnership needed to be equal. By the end of the series, the two friends had reconciled their differences, underscoring what makes them so lovable.
The Continued Pairing and Possible Future for Booster Gold and Blue Beetle in the DCU
Booster Gold turned Blue Beetle into a bonafide comedic pillar of the DC Universe. Despite Ted’s anxious personality and bouts of angst, his friendship with Booster Gold pushes him to be a braver superhero. Likewise, Booster’s friendship with Beetle has elevated him beyond being a precise observation about a historical moment in time. Booster and Beetle have a unique sense of platonic male intimacy in superhero comics. Their devotion to each other is an inspiring sight for many readers. Now, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are coming to James Gunn’s DCU. The Blue Beetle film and Booster Gold TV show will hopefully lead to a live-action friendship in the future.