In 1983 DC acquired the Charlton’s “Action Heroes”, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Question, Nightshade, Thunderbolt, and the Peacemaker from the struggling publisher. Alan Moore originally wrote Watchmen with these characters in mind, but at the last minute DC decided to save the characters for other projects, and Moore created new characters inspired by them. The Charlton heroes would join the DC Multiverse just in time for the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 (on the previously unseen Earth-4) and since then have appeared in various solo series and as members of various teams. None may have had more success than the Blue Beetle.
With the new 52, DC looks to refresh the character. As with many of the titles in the relaunch, DC is simplifying and retelling the character’s origin. And it start’s where you’d least suspect it.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Somewhere across the Universe, an alien race known as the Reach is invading a world, turning one of it’s own citizen into a unstoppable weapon, a Infiltrator, with more than enough firepower to raize whole cities. The Reach make these living assault weapons with the scarabs, semi-sentient computers that merge with hosts, taking control of them and outfitting them with all they need to destroy anyone who gets in their way. Well except maybe a Green Lantern, who thinks the Reach should have been dealt with, harshly. The GL and a scarab trade shots, and the scarab, damaged ends up crashing into the Mexican jungle, sometime in the past.
This issue does a great job of reestablishing Jaime Reyes in the New 52, and creates a new streamlined origin, stripping away the layers of the previous scarab owners and making it accessible to new readers. The good thing is that it is not in a way that precludes the existence of a Dan Garrett or a Ted Kord having possessed the scarab at some point. Tony Bedard, Ig Guara and Ruy Jose go back to the very beginning with this one. In fact, it takes a six page prologue where before we even meet Jaime Reyes, teenager, and superhero to be, and it’s takes the whole issue before Jaime and the Scarab encounter each other.
And that’s okay, this is Jaime’s book, and we get to spend most of it learning about Jaime’s life, his family, his friends. The cast includes all the teen age superhero standards. The protective parents, the cute girl, the best friend with criminal tendencies, but is really a good guy. And of course the cute girl’s aunt is the one with real criminal connections.
Visually, the book is sharp. Guara and Jose do a great job of establishing the youth of Blue Beetle and his friends. They are teenagers, and they look like teenagers, not short adults. And they talk like teens, they walk like teens, they dress like teens, and they have teenage problems. Of course the Beetle armor looks pretty sharp too. In fact, it is the exact same visually as it was pre-Flashpoint. Hey it was already pretty new and fresh when it first appeared in 2006. However they did a pretty good job redesigning Phobia, Warp and Plasmus of the Brotherhood of Evil (Okay, so Warp still has that funky helmet/hood thing, but it works for him.) Nightwing baddie Brutale shows up too, and he brings some new friends, Rompe-Huesos, and a feral Chupacabra looking monster.
All of this before Jaime even becomes the Blue Beetle. What is going to happen now that he has been fused with the scarab. I liked Blue Beetle when he had his own title after Infinite Crisis. I also like his back up feature while it lasted in Booster Gold, and I still like him now.
a $2.99 comic, 32 pgs
(w) Tony Bedard (a) Ig Guara and Ruy Jose