Sunday, April 14, 2013

CBR:Quickies Blue Beetle (2006-2010)

First there was Dan. Then was Ted. Finally came Jaime.

More BWA-HA-HA reviews in these links below!

The Blue Beetle's always been one of my personal favorites. Be it his original Dan Garret(t) incarnation or the Steve Ditko-esque Ted Kord later.

It's a character that unlike Batman or Superman's eternally ever-changing mood to suit different generations has simply been adapted entirely different each time. The whole mythos rebuilt all over again, accumulating years of history and keeping the previous incarnation present behind the scenes.

The original Blue Beetle was created by Fox Comics. It was about magical Egyptian powers and a Golden Age mystery man hero Dan Garrett. Then came

Ted Kord was introduced when Charlton Comics brought the character alongside other proprieties. Ted had no powers and used an arsenal of hi-tech gadgets and his smarts to defeat supervillains.

Ted Kord is dead. He died a hero facing his old friend Maxwell Lord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

Following the big DC Comics crossover event Infinite Crisis, the young Jaime Reyes found a very strange Blue Scarab lying on the ground. It had fallen from the skies where Captain Marvel had hidden the legendary magical relic...

The scarab fused in his back and it now gives Jaime the ability to turn into The Blue Beetle!

This is the series launched shortly after the Days of Vengeance storyline that saw the destruction of the "Rock of Eternity" in 2006, featuring the new version of the character imagined by writer/artist Keith Giffen.

Comic title: Blue Beetle: Shellshocked
Written by Keith Giffen & John Rogers 
Art by Cully Hamner, Kevin West, Cynthia Martin and Duncan Rouleau
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #1-6 of Blue Beetle.

This is it, a brand new beginning for the our favorite Azure Avenger!

The story takes place in the fictional El Paso, Texas.

One day while he was walking home with his friends Brenda and Paco, Jaime Reyes found a very unusual blue scarab in the street.

He brought it without knowing it would...permanently attach to his spine!!

This is when Jaime was changed into the Blue Beetle the first time, went into space during the events of the big crossover and fought alongside other costumed heroes.

Back on Earth, Jaime finds out he missed an entire life. He goes back to his family. His dad has a garage, his mom works at the hospital and he also has a little kid sister, Milagro.

To calm them down he tries telling them the truth but they don't believe Jaime simply changes back into Blue Beetle to show 'em!

While Jaime's trying to slowly adjust to his new life, problems keep finding him.

Some people that can use magic called The Posse are tailing him. But the Beetle can fight back no problem.

Meanwhile a mysterious tattooed guy has heard from Jaime and his looking for him...

Jaime starts researching his legacy, and find out more about both previous Blue Beetles when the virtual vigilante from Gotham, Oracle, enters contact with him.

Blue Beetle find some more magic creatures. Who is La Dama? And why did The Phantom Stranger look after him?

Finally the guy with tattoos arrive in El Paso. The scarab is not magic.... but alien in nature!!

Overall: What a fantastic introduction! That's how you do it!

The book is very fun, very interesting and entertaining. The story is engaging, the characters are fully developed, the dialogues well done.

The series was quickly pitched and start after Infinite Crisis #3. The series was developed by writers Keith Giffen and John Rogers with help from artist Cully Hamner. It is a Giffen book at heart, very fun, deep in rich DC history but necessary for newcomers.

Cully Hamner art is great, and the contributions from the other artists such as Duncan Rouleau follow the same guidelines. Meaning an art direction that wants itself fun, fresh and young. Great natural cartoony tone that is fitting for the story, detailed and realistic enough.

The mysterious inherited scarab moves this first story arc.

I love that Jaime chose to tell his parents his sec rent, it's a nice twist from the usual tired formula.

The story builds upon previous versions of the characters, having the scarab talk in a strange language is a reinterpretation of Garrett's amulet. But there will be some explanations later on.

The book is very much grounded in the Blue Beetle legacy.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Blue Beetle: Road Trip
Written by Keith Giffen & John Rogers 
Art by Cully Hamner, Duncan Rouleau, Casey Jones & Rafael Albuquerque
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #7–12 of Blue Beetle.

Jaime and co want to find out more about this mysterious blue scarab. They decide to retrace Jaime's steps before his arrival on Earth. He still has no memories of his missing year.

Milagro is still a bit shaken and afraid of her big brother.

The tattooed man tells his an old aquaintance of Ted Kord and knew Dan. He also used to be another "costumed clown" like them as well. He used to be called The Peacemaker. And he was an agent for the government for a while until he explored the place where Dan Garrett got his powers. But when he was there something happened to him as well and he know has sort of a "database" for the scarab imprinted in his head. That's the reason why it never fully worked for Dan, it was missing something.

Jaime remembers bits and pieces back when he helped the League and Batman.

But the question is now if the scarab's woken up now, who created it and for what reason...?

They go on a journey to find some answers and learn more about the Beetle. They meet Danielle Garrett, Dan's granddaughter.

After that Brenda's transported by accident in another world! Turns out Brenda's aunt is actually La Dama. She had in her possession a Mother Box - alien technology from the New Gods. She is sent to New Genesis and the Blue Beetle has to go after her.

Finally Jaime and Peacemaker fight some alien technology. An alien spaceship appears in the skies.

The Reach is here to save Earth!

Overall: Action packed, as epic in scope as the previous book was. The action doesn't let us down in this fantastic second trade paperback!

Giffen has been co-plotting the book and left enough plots open for the rest of the creative team to take over once he had the series launched in the right direction.

I particularly love the secondary cast of characters in this series. Everyone's so very likable, even the annoying bossy Peacemaker.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque joins up the book to take over as main artist. His art is pretty similar to Hamner while being distant enough. His a natural fit for the book.

I really liked Duncan Rouleau's filler issue, filling in on Peacemaker's past while tying with this old comic book character. (another classic Charlton Comics character reimagined)

Great book, recommended read!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars
Written by John Rogers, Keith Giffen& J. Torres
Art by Rafael Albuquerque, David Baldeon & Freddie Williams II
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #13–19 of Blue Beetle.

The latest to call himself the Blue Beetle is in it deeply this time!

After an humorous recap, Jaime and Peacemaker discuss with the emissary from the alien race the Reach. He claims they're here to save our planet. They make sure to have Blue Beetle agents in all the planets they plan to visit. But this one was damaged, and was only half-activated by Dan Garret.

But in reality The Reach is really here to conquer the planet and drain it of its natural resources. They conquer planets without the rest of the universe noticing it with sleeper agents.

Problem is planet Earth (in the DCU) is actually overrun by several Green Lanterns... and even a kryptonian?!

The Reach cause an outbreak of Beetles through the city. To better analyze Jaime's scarab that is running free outside the Reach's "software".

Guy Gardner, awesome Green Lantern, comes to El Paso to make things clear from the last time he attacked Jaime by accident. They go after Reach technology and face against the Ultra-Humanite!

Guy tells Jaime to follow Ted's example. He had no super powers and made it just fine using his head. He was smart. Smarter than Bats!

Jaime goes to Star Labs and end up fighting Livewire. After that he finally meets Superman.

Continuing with these guest-stars from Metropolis. next we have the first time Jaime meets Traci 13, a magic user daughter of the famous Doctor 13. They fight Ray Palmer's ex-wife now Eclipso. And even save a baby with some help from Paco!

Finally we have an epic crossover story with the Teen Titans, with Lobo! In this book it's from Jaime's point of view.

And Brenda finally learns the truth about her aunt...

Overall: I loved the "3-way crossover". (I mean, Lobo didn't had his own pov, but I like to count him as part of the crossover)

The series continue its high level quality story telling, character building and gorgeous art direction.

Blue Beetle never disappoints. The story of The Reach makes a very smart use of the DC Universe mythology (the Green Lantern, the magic users..) and it places Jaime Reyes in a very nice spotlight as the best representative of the new generation of heroes in DC Comics.

Another hit, still no miss!

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Blue Beetle: End Game
Written by John Rogers, Justin Peniston & Jai Nitz
Art by Rafael Albuquerque, Andy Kuhn & Mike Norton
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #20–26 of Blue Beetle.

While the Sinestro Corps is wagging war on the DC Universe, The Reach is able to catch Peacemaker and turn him into The Inflitrator agent!

Blue Beetle gets some help from the Green Lantern Corps fighting his friend turned evil monster.

The Spectre comes to town.

After that Danni Garret is helping Jaime. She now pilots Ted's Bug flying ship. She wants to learn to use some of Ted's old tech. They fight an underground Lord that should take a stand with them against The Reach.

Finally the "End Game" Storyline begins!

Jaime's scarab gets taken by The Reach. Everyone's pitching in to help fight the invasion.

Jaime's all alone by himself. With no weapons, nothing to help him... What would Ted Kord do in this situation?

It's time to make the ol' Blue Beetles proud. Jaime escapes and with some help from all the things he learned the past year or so he is able to beat The Reach!

Khaji Da! The magic word that once granted Dan Garret powers is actually the scarab's name! Jaime can now perfectly understand the tech and dialogue with his scarab. Blue Beetle is running at full capacity!

The Justice League International is here to help the Blue Beetle make his rescue!

Overall: What a fantastic grand finale!

This book is absolutely epic, from start to finish!

It's sad to already see the big on-going storyline resolved, but actually at the time there were some fears the title might be canceled due to declining sales - despite great reviews everywhere.

I really liked the original bonus last issue, entirely in Spanish! What an original initiative, I don't even speak/read Spanish! (fear not, cause the script in English is printed at the end!). Usually they'd make something in "Spanglish", but I'm glad it's not the case here. It's really unique and a smart use of Jaime Reyes' Blue Beetle title. I recall no other such example in comics.

A really fun title, another great book:

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Blue Beetle: Boundaries

Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Rafael Albuquerque & Andre Coelho
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #29–34 of Blue Beetle.

Blue Beetle follows a strange creature, the Beetle's resident nerd team - Hector and Nadia - aren't able to identify the mutant.

Meanwhile Peacemaker's helping stop some illegal immigrants now that The Reach was stopped. It's better him than letting those crazy happy triggers do that job by themselves.

The immigrants escape, superpowered with some strange drugs!

Doctor Mid-Nite from the JSA comes to help the people of El Paso.

And old enemy of the Blue Beetle reappears, Doctor Polaris!

The Teen Titans come to town to help Beetle. Jaime discovers Mariposa is the daughter of Polaris. He's been spreading drugs from Intergang all over town.

Overall: A pretty decent storyline, but the tone changed a bit.

My main grip with this book is that it skipped a story arc - which was reprinted later in the finale book.

New writer on the book, Matthew Sturges. He does relatively well. But things aren't as fresh or original. I mean drugs, illegal aliens.. He didn't try nothing original or different from all those other stories taking place South near the border.

But the characters are still the heart of the show, and they're still plenty of fun to follow.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Blue Beetle: Black and Blue
Written by Matthew Sturges & Will Pfeifer
Art by Mike Norton, David Baldeón & Carlo Barberi
Format: Trade Paperback collecting issues #27–28 and #35–36 of Blue Beetle as well as the backup stories printed in Booster Gold #21–25 and #28–29.

It starts relatively slow.

Jaime's on another typical date with Tracie 13. Demons attack all over town.

Hector gets attacked by a strange creature at night. It only means one thing, Dr. Mephistopheles is back! Who? A classic 1940s enemy of Dan's Blue Beetle nobody heard of. Danni provides some intel on him, but in the end Jaime takes his own choice how to take care of such a foe.

All of Ted's old enemies come back to take on the new Blue Beetle! Such as the Madmen, etc. Jaime uses what I read on Ted's personal notes to face them.

On the Valentine's dance night, Jaime, Traci, Brenda and Paco are attacked by new Reach soldiers. They call themselves "The Khaji-Da Revolutionary Army" and were inspired by Jaime's break from the Reach influence to work for themselves now. Nadia is killed by accident...

Jaime is now coming to terms with the alien scarab that gives him his powers. How much would he be willing to sacrifice for others?

And the last tale. While a fighting giant robot and then another old enemy back from hiding, a new foe appears... Enters The Black Beetle!!

Something's wrong with the scarab since it rebooted itself. It is now more aggressive that ever.

Who exactly is the Black Beetle? We know he comes from the future... Is he Hector? Or an older more evil Jaime??

It all comes down to an end. The tale of a legacy of courage, intellect and strength... The legacy of The Blue Beetle.

Overall: And on a meta-ending, Paco's favorite comic book series is canceled.. well, I guess he's still find his favorite characters in other stores, at least he's gonna appear on that team-book, but it won't be the same...

The first half is still pretty good. Built upon references of past stories and Jaime's own trouble with The Reach. Then we have the very interesting concept of the Black Beetle from the future.. but it doesn't get resolved in these pages... Nor in any other title since DC rebooted their entire universe shortly after!

Such a dark turn of events for the end... A young girl killed, Jaime's scarab rebooted for worse, a time traveling pain in the a**.... Alas, it's often the case as it goes for superhero books. No happy ending for the restless!

This is it, this is the end. The series was canceled. Editor in chief Dan Didio had to can the title. But due to the enormous fan demand Blue Beetle was brought back as a backup feature in Booster Gold's title, albeit temporary.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!


And that is that for Jaime Reyes' Blue Beetle series!

I really recommend the title, it's easy to find it nowadays. The trades are still in print, translated into several other languages along other modern DC Comics titles.

The characters are very fun and they're the most essential aspect of the book - something you don't see much in traditional superhero comics.

Jaime was a worthy successor to both Ted Kord and Dan Garret. As much as I adore Ted, he never embraced Dan's legacy as much as Jaime does to both of them. It's a book that is fresh, with all-new ideas and storylines yet still honors what came before.

Blue Beetle was adapted into several other mediums. Jaime is probably the best represented Beetle to this day. Since he appeared on the Brave and the Bold cartoon series, Young Justice, Smallville and he even has a live action show rumored to be in production at the moment!

This is not the end for the character though. The series ended, but a new one was launched under "The New 52" banner, but that is for another time...

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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