While both Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord Blue Beetles (never read anything with the actual original), Keith Giffen and Scott Kolins Blue Beetle was not a fun read initially. One major turn-off to the book was the constant damn bickering between any two characters but especially between Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord themselves.
Interior conflict on a team is important; that’s is what has made the Avengers what they are, and it’s one of the hooks to the character of Firestorm. However, with Blue Beetle, it’s been constant and petty, even when Jaime is in the middle of a dangerous fight, like with Rack and Ruin in the initial Rebirth issue.
I really wanted to like the book, but the constant bickering and slow pacing turned me away.
So, we’re stepping back in with this book. Boy, is it an issue to return on.
Arion, Lord of Atlantis (you know, the one from Crisis on Infinite Earths), is in a struggle with Doctor Fate which has turned the majority of the population of El Paso into monster-people. He has also taken Jaime’s Scarab, leaving the young hero to wear Ted’s old Blue Beetle suit. Now, Jaime, Ted, and Ted’s speedster secretary, Teri, to try to save the town and its people (also Sugar and Spike are here, but they’re monsters too). They trio receive aid from Omac, and they attempt to strike at the heart of the matter, Arion himself. During this crisis, Teri finds Doctor Fate’s helmet, and is sent on a quest by Nabu, Lord of Order, to Salem to find Kent Nelson himself.
So, despite this ridiculously complex plot and my previous issues with the book, this story kinda grabbed me. From the beginning, Giffen and Kolins seemed to be trying to sell a sort of zany high-concept science-and-magic book. The grating characters and constant in-fighting kept this from coalescing. But it works for me here. Craziness is happening, the two Beetles are having to cooperate to deal with the threat, and Omac and Teri make for cool additions to this team. There isn’t as much plot-halting and petty bickering to piledrive the pacing. It moves at a brisk pace, and a lot of weird and wild things happen which make for a fun read. There is some antagonism between the team members, but it’s not nearly as dominating this time.
The promise of Doctor Fate next issue really helps too. I have been dying for a proper return of the Justice Society, and, no, Earth 2 and Earth 2: Society do not count.
Also, Omac is a welcome return. Have you ever read the New 52: Omac title? It had Keith Giffen too, as well as Dan Didio. It was awesome. It was a fantastic sci-fi-action book with a lot of Kirby influence. It was one of the best titles of the early New 52, and it shouldn’t have been cancelled at Number 8 as it was.
Kolins’ artwork is a perfect fit for the book. His rough-around-the-edges and cartoony art style is very appropriate for this. The monster designs are pretty cool, and Kord’s Blue Beetle costume looks really nice. I dig the armor shoulder pads. His depiction of Omac in particular would make for some great posters.
(That image is actually from the previous issue, but it proves my point).
It’s a wild comic, and it might be a little confusing at first if you, like myself, hadn’t read any of the recent issues. However, you will likely get a kick out of it if you’re looking for a weird and action-packed ride. Give it a try.
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