by Matt Puddy
As part of the new round of Rebirth titles, Blue Beetle is out and on the shelves this week. Blue Beetle isn’t a hero I know a lot about, so this was going to make Keith Giffen’s reboot of the title an interesting read for me.
The story is quite a conflict in a variety of ways. Initially you have the obvious fight between the Beetle and two powered individuals called Rack and Ruin. On top of that you have fighting friends and the massive clash between our hero Jaime Reyes and (former) Blue Beetle Ted Kord.
It must be tricky when you’re still in school, you have (what you think is) an alien technology attached to your back, and an old man (who apparently is desperate to cling onto his former super life) is calling you to action at the worst possible moment. Jaime is battling through it, and hopefully making headway - if only he actually understood what was going on with his technological partner and how the darned thing actually worked!
What follows is a rather frenetic fight, made up of a combination of reluctant suit assistance, half-assed mentor assistance, and a less than favourable outcome which sees Rack and Ruin leave after being smashed to pieces. Jaime is left wondering if this is the right path for him, while Ted is an abundance of enthusiasm for it all. Like one of the standard hero stereotypes, Reyes’ level of apprehension towards his level of responsibilities and new, but under developed, power screams “newbie”.
As a first issue, or at least a restart, I struggled with it. My knowledge of the Blue Beetle is limited to a few interactions in older comics (DC's year-long 52, for example) and cartoons like Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Realistically speaking this makes my ability to draw in on the character also limited. This character - which is less mainstream than, for example, the Justice League - is being thrown in so deep so quickly that I'm left with a lot of questions, such as the how and why of the story. I still have no idea how Jaime received the Beetle, how it passed from Ted to him or, as the comic so rightly pointed out, what it really actually is. Apparently, thanks to Doctor Fate’s involvement, Ted doesn’t know this and never really did.
With all the conflict mentioned above, the writing lost a lot of substance and just went from one argument (in various forms) to another, leaving it all feeling a little empty. The build up and background seemed wasted, and detracted from what I felt could have been a bigger and deeper story.
Scott Kolins was both the artist and and story contributor for this issue. This too I found to be a mixed bag and his artistic style changes from page to page depending on the content. It ranges from colourful, almost Walking Dead-style linework to far more detailed personal work. It’s good, but it didn’t grab me.
I feel like I should like this issue. The story and central character is quirky and fun, but something is nagging at the back of my mind. It’s like it needs something more - but frustratingly I can’t quite work out what the more actually is! I am sure that once the Kord/Reyes discord has been resolved it will grow and develop into more, but right now this comic, like our superhero protagonist, is in its pupae phase.
This week Matt has been thinking of colourful entomology puns but hasn’t and it’s bugging him.