I can recall Sliders more fondly now probably because I hadn’t immersed myself in the early ’90s TV show’s mythology as I did X-Files or (as I did later that decade) Millennium. As far as high concept went though, Sliders was just great for the time. Grad school physics student and string theorist Quinn Mallory develops “sliding” technology which allows humans to travel to parallel worlds. An accident causes Quinn, his gal pal Wade Welles, his professor Maximilian Arturo and showman Rembrandt “Cryin’ Man” Brown to be caught in a complex labyrinth of “slides” uncertain of when or if they will return home. Each week the Sliders would appear in an “altered reality” where social norms and society itself is simply alien both to them and our expectations. It’s always 1995, just different.
Reading the concluding part of “Turbulence”, the four-part “Flashpoint” tie-in appearing in the pages of Booster Gold, there’s that same elegant hopefulness I encountered with Sliders. That sense that you’re equipped to deal with whatever may come. That sense that even if you find yourself in an alien environment, you can still find your way home. That sense that individual action can change your condition.
Sliders wasn’t very different from the cultural aesthetic of classic superheroes (like Superman, say). And that same sense is found easily in the concluding chapter of “Turbulence”.
By now “Flashpoint” is something of a familiar story, even if the exact details are scarce. The Reverse Flash somehow trigger a complete change in history trapping Barry Allen’s Flash in a world he could scarcely understand, let alone recognize. This was a world where supervillains stalked America almost unchecked, some even posing as heroes. But even these supervillains weren’t the real threat. That threat came in the form of erstwhile heroes, Aquaman and Wonder Woman.
Now elevated to their true regal standing, Emperor Aquaman of Atlantis and Princess Diana of the Amazons waged war on a global scale. All of the Eurozone countries were lost to this war. And the United Kingdom became an occupied state. And superheroes never came to be. Kal-el crash landed only to be kidnapped by a secret military unit known as Project Superman. He would never become Clark Kent, never move to Metropolis. Batman emerged, not as Bruce Wayne driven by the death of his parents, but as Thomas Wayne stricken by the murder of his son. And in a cruel twist, it was Martha Wayne who would become the Joker.
But all was not lost, as we discover in the pages of “Turbulence”. Barry Allen was not the only hero to remember the DC universe that was. Booster remembered as well. And despite being mistaken for an Atlantean invader and having to fight a Doomsday (the monster responsible for killing Superman) weaponized by General Nate Adams (erstwhile Captain Atom), Booster finally figures out how “fix” the timeline.
But Booster Gold Editor Rex Ogle had already in World of Flashpoint (as series writer) considered the idea that Barry (and by implication Booster) was no different to any other character trying to assert the World of the Flashpoint in their image.
And with Barry’s and now Booster’s memories of the original DCU rapidly fading, now’s the time to act.
It’s hard to measure the “success” of Booster and Barry’s action in terms of storytelling; cliffhangers abound. But from the media surrounding the major reboot of DC’s 52 core titles, it’s clear that that action failed on some level. I’ve carefully avoided reading news of Booster Gold’s fate under the New 52, what I do know is scant. Booster Gold will not be rebooted. “Turbulence” in effect then is nothing more than an narrative device aimed at “deleting” Booster’s memories and positioning him as ready for the post-reboot DC.
As narrative devices go, “Turbulence” comes off without much of a hitch. But why involve Booster in a hail-mary with Barry Allen at all? In light of the incredibly fine work done on Booster’s character during 52 and “Brightest Day’s” Justice League: Generation Lost, “Turbulence” feels very much like a failure.