With Blue Beetle #11, we are finally at the end of the Arion, Lord of Atlantis, arc of the series. Jaime Reyes has reclaimed the Scarab and defeated Arion with the help of Ted Kord, the Flash of the year 3000, Omac, and Doctor Fate. Only one hangup: The Scarab has taken over Jaime Reyes and remade him into the destroyer it intended him to be.
Or so it seems — in reality, Jaime was pulling a trick on Ted, Doctor Fate, and the others. Doctor Fate warns Jaime of his flippancy in regards to the power he wields. He then seals away Arion and leaves.
The following days find Jaime taking a break and trying to readjust to life and having the Scarab once more. He and his friends are worried that the Scarab may finally take over his mind. Kord Industries goes about rebuilding El Paso.
Meanwhile, La Dama (aunt to Jaime’s friend, Brenda) is on the search for one of her scientists who has escaped her with a lot his work. This scientist has become a being called Ghostfire and begins plans to destroy Blue Beetle.
This issue attempts a slower approach with the ending of the lengthy and action-intensive Arion story. There are a lot of scenes of Ted in his office and Jaime at home and at school.
I’ve said before how valuable such issues can be and how balancing character and downtime with the action and adventure can add so much to a comic.
Unfortunately, this comic is glacially slow, does what could have been accomplished in a couple of pages in about 20, and presents page after page of text walls.
Don’t get me wrong; there are decent moments of character and plot development with Jaime, but so much of it feels superfluous and annihilates any idea of pacing.
It doesn’t help that the first thing the comic does is make the apparent takeover of the Scarab at the end of the last issue the mother of all ass-pulls. Blue Beetle #11 is far from the first comic to do such a thing, but it doesn’t make it any less insulting.
The main saving grace is that Jaime and Ted remain very charming characters. Jaime is a troubled high school kid, and Ted is an eccentric and well-meaning genius.
Ghostfire is looking to be a fun and quirky villain, too. His apparent motivation is something along the lines of “Hey, I got superpowers. Of course I gotta take over El Paso and kick the local hero’s ass.”
The ending promises the arrival of the Batman, because every DC writer seems contractually obligated to include this moody bastard at some point. That may excite some; it is a disappointment for me. It stinks of Marvel and Wolverine not too long ago.
It’s disappointing to see that Omac and Doctor Fate won’t be sticking around. I had hopes for some sort of ad-hoc Justice Society with the two of them, the two Beetles, and the future Flash (who I initially hoped was Jesse Quick). I mean, it’s not like DC is doing anything else with Fate and Omac right now. Let them stick around.
Keith Giffen’s art remains well suited for the comic. The rough-around-the-edges look fits the rough-and-ready method of Jaime and Ted’s superheroing. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s color work is really good. A lot of panels seem to glisten with the bright blues, oranges, and golds.
It’s disappointing to say it, but this was a very disposable issue. It does little to forward the plot or the characters, and it wraps up a story that was pretty much over already. I like Jaime and Ted and this book overall, but I can’t recommend this issue even to Blue Beetle fans. I can’t say this comic is a complete waste of your money if you follow this series, but it won’t do much for you.
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