April 24, 2024

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #348: Major Disaster

He started off as a Green Lantern foe, became a member of the Justice League, and these days is apparently a disappointing father. These things happen.

So, last week in this space, I covered the ultimately tragic tale of Big Sir.  Big Sir, as a member of the Justice League Antarctica and Injustice League, hung around with a lot of other bad guys portrayed as losers, so why not go with the head of that merry band, namely Major Disaster?

Major Disaster actually has had a rather impressive backstory.

Well, might as well start at the beginning here.  Major Disaster, AKA Paul Booker, first appeared as a petty crook in the pages of Green Lantern #43 in March of 1966.  Booker had broken into a random apartment that turned out to be the home of Hal Jordan’s mechanic friend Tom Kalmaku, during which he accidentally discovered a journal that revealed the real names of both the Green Lantern and the Flash.  Armed with this knowledge, he got some criminal scientists to build him a device that would allow him to create natural disasters while protecting himself against those same disasters.

Plus, he dressed like this.

He lost, obviously since the book wasn’t retitled with his name, when his device was destroyed and he was reduced to atoms, but since this was comics, that device also eventually reformed his body.  By then, Green Lantern had erased the knowledge of who Hal and Barry were from his mind, so that in and of itself wasn’t a problem.  Though primarily a Green Lantern foe, Major Disaster would sometimes mess with other heroes.

Eventually, he got the bright idea to form his own Injustice League, and that led to his being a member of Justice League Antarctica.  During this period, Booker was considered the only member of the Injustice League with actual superpowers, but he had no real control over what kind of disasters he caused.  He just turned his powers on and something big and bad happened.

Now, all this sounds like a good start, but what makes him interesting compared to half the other characters I’ve covered?  Well, he did sell his soul to the demon Neron during Underworld Unleashed, giving him powers based more on probability than anything else.  He apparently had a mission to assassinate Aquaman, a task he completed without stepping foot anywhere near an ocean.  He did it by kicking an older pilot in the leg, loosening a blod clot and giving the man a fatal heart attack.  That meant a less experienced pilot was handling that 747, so when a goose got sucked into the engine, the plane went down, hit the ocean, crashed into some underwater rocks, and rained the whole thing down on Aquaman, killing him…or it would have had Aquaman not been defeated by an enemy that had similar powers and looked a lot like him.  Aquaman was safe in another dimension and his foe Thanatos died instead under all the debris.

Oh, and the old pilot’s daughter learned from Disaster about her father’s death when she was looking for him at the airport after her boyfriend proposed to share the happy news, ruining her day as well.  That was…one very dark issue of Aquaman.

That turn to real evil didn’t last that long as he was soon part of the Suicide Squad with his old Injustice League teammates, but he was the only one to come back from their mission together even if one or two of those guys resurfaced later in other places with barely a word said on how they survived.  Disaster would stay with that incarnation of the Squad for a while with what looked like his original powers.

By then, writer Joe Kelly was writing both Superman’s solo adventures and JLA, so in an issue where Superman was seen fighting four different foes, offering each one a chance to reform and do better, only one took him up on the offer, namely Major Disaster, now wearing some kind of leather jacket-type look.  Kelly then had Batman recruit Major Disaster for an interim League under the leadership of Nightwing when the main League was indisposed.  Disaster would stick around after the League returned before joining the more covert team the Justice League Elite where it came up he had a drinking problem that led to one of his teammates being injured and another, previous entry Manitou Raven, killed.

Booker resigned from the League when the Elite’s mission was over, asking them to leave him be while he got himself cleaned up.  His last appearance as a good guy was during the Infinite Crisis where he was one of the canon fodder heroes that Superboy-Prime killed during the Battle of Metropolis scene.  He would come back as a Black Lantern during Blackest Night, but he wasn’t among the small handful returned to life when that storyline was over.

Say, why haven’t I covered Superboy-Prime here yet?

But there was a reboot!  Has Paul Booker been seen since the New 52/DC Rebirth?

Yes, and he’s just a bad guy again from the looks of things.  Most notably, he has a daughter named Penny who decided to go by Minor Disaster with a “disaster dial” device of her own to try to be like her old man.  She matched wits with Harley Quinn and…well, it didn’t quite go as planned since for the most part, her dial just caused people do minorly dumb things and even then it sometimes worked out in her enemies’ favor, like when she used her powers to make Harley upload an embarrassing video instead of deleting it, but the video went viral instead of getting Harley, I dunno, “canceled” or something.

Penny eventually decided her dad wasn’t worth it after her dial finally did something really bad and she regretted it.  That disaster was the only thing she did that he seemed to approve of anyway.  Good for her.

So, that was Major Disaster.  One of those bad guys who is sometimes a good guy, would be seen in crowd shots during the JLU period of the DCAU, and now, well, he’s just a Major Jerk.

But he could pull off a hoodie look.