Saturday, July 25, 2015

"Brother's Keeper"

Last issue Jaime and the Posse raided a meta-human compound looking for a baby, Brenda's aunt was revealed as the mysterious La Dama, Peacemaker announced that the scarab was alien technology, and I was a little confused. John Rogers and Cully Hamner pick it up from there...will we get answers? Let's find out...



Jaime has taken his family, and friends Paco and Brenda, out to the desert to see where he landed after the events of "Infinite Crisis". After the revelation last issue that the scarab was alien, and not magical, they're trying to retrace Jaime's steps to find out more. Milagro, Jaime's little sister, almost seems to have recovered from her fear of her brother's new powers...almost, but not quite. She does help though, by suggesting that if you want to find something that's lost (in this case Jaime's memory and time) she imagines going back to bedin the morning and starting from there. 



Peacemaker suddenly appears, and agrees if they're going to find out anything about the scarab, Jaime needs to remember everything he can! Paco reminds Jaime that he'd already told them Booster Gold was the one who woke him that day...and from there we flashback to Blue Beetle, in the Batcave, having just thrown-up! He's nervous, this is the big leagues. Several members of the League are present...and they need his help! 



Next thing he knows, they're flying one of Ted Kord's BUGs into space, in search of the Brother Eye satellite. The scarab was key in finding the satellite, because it could "negate its vibrational frequency". While his family questions how he could do that, Jaime realizes he never thought to ask...and that's when the scarab informs him it is because its creators used similar technology. 



Back on the satellite, the OMACs attack! Blue Beetle finds himself surrounded, and taking damage, but Black Canary and Green Arrow arrive to save the day. 



Once clear, Beetle uses the scarab's tech to connect with the satellite's system and set off some explosions, giving the trio a chance to get away. But like they say, out of the frying pan and into the fire. No sooner do they dodge the first group of OMACs, than they find themselves face to face with another! The League calls for everyone to evacuate, but Batman is MIA. Green Lantern (Hal) says he'll take care of Bats...and the scarab freaks! 



The mere mention of Green Lantern (he seems to react more to the name than the fact John Stewart is standing behind him) sends the scarab into stealth mode causing Jaime to fade from site. Invisible, and afraid, Jaime soon finds himself alone on an exploding satellite as everyone else leaves. Just remembering that moment brings the teen to tears...and earns a hug from his, no longer frightened, sister. 



As night falls, the group prepares to leave the desert, and Peacemaker leaves Jaime with something to think about.


Not a bad issue, definitely lots to think about, and some very nice character beats. Imagine being granted this great power, being asked by someone you admire to help, then losing control of the power and finding yourself abandoned far from home. It's scary and sad! I also like the continued presence of Peacemaker. I'd originally looked at Jaime as a "pretender to the throne", not really part of the Blue Beetle legacy, but by weaving in this Charlton character Rogers (and Giffen in previous issues) really brings home the idea that Jaime IS tied to Ted, and Dan before him. Too bad, having already read the New52 Blue Beetle run, that all ties to the legacy were later abandoned. Maybe, if we're lucky...in this post Convergence DCU...if we do see any version of Blue Beetle again, his history will not be ignored. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Havoc Is...The Hybrid!"

Hey there Beetlemaniacs! Can you believe it's been over six months since we looked at a Blue Beetle story by Paris Cullins and Len Wein? Shockingly it's true! Now, at least we weren't without our friend Ted! I mean, I hope you enjoyed "The L.A.W." and the resulting interview with Bob Layton, then there was "Justice League 3000", and "Convergence: Justice League International" and "Convergence: Blue Beetle". On the heels of those last two, now seems as good a time as any to get back into the swing of things with DC's "Blue Beetle" #11 from 1987, by Wein, Cullins and Barras...and a story called "Havoc Is...The Hybrid!"


High above the city, Blue Beetle taunts some crooks. Well, technically he scares the crap out of them. He's captured their getaway car with the BUG and takes them for a roller coaster of a ride, before dipping them in Lake Michigan...



...and then dropping them off at Chicago's police headquarters. Lt. Fisher spots him and like a captured monster on Scooby Doo, swears he'll get him someday. A few pages later, at the offices of Kord Omniversal, he's back claiming he'll pin Dan Garrett's disappearance on Ted (without realizing Ted and Beetle are one and the same). While Fisher follows up with Melody about the girl she reported missing last issue, Ted also spots Angie, his receptionist, trying to pack up and leave. After stealing from Ted for her uncle (Chronos), she feels like maybe she's no longer welcome. Ted though is nothing if he's not forgiving and assures her she is not just welcome, but expected to stay! From there we follow Ted down to the lab, where Murray Takamoto and Curt Calhoun are still working on perfecting their promethium alloy. Ted arrives just in time to see an "accidental" spill of molten promethium! It's about to pour right on Ted, when Calhoun leaps into action, shoving Kord out of the way...



...and finds himself covered in the blistering liquid metal himself. Somehow, miraculously, he manages to survive and Ted arranges for him to be rushed to the hospital. Now...why did I say "accidental", in quotes? Well, just before the spill a mysterious masked figures shouts, "NOW!", and on the way to the hospital the ambulance encounters a roadblock, followed by armed men who order everyone out and then kidnap Calhoun! Ted gives everyone the slip, summons the BUG and is quickly tracking the kidnappers as the Blue Beetle. Meanwhile, we see who the masked man is...it's Mento, former member of the Doom Patrol. It seems he's created a new team, infusing the bodies of several hapless subjects with promethium...including the girl who saved Melody and was kidnapped from the hospital last issue. 



Of the six "heroes" he's created, only two seem to be ok with the idea, the others are confused and angry. It doesn't matter, Mento is able to control them, and so they reluctantly agree to his plan...to destroy the Teen Titans! Blue Beetle is ready to crash the party though. The BUG has caught up with the chopper that airlifted Calhoun and the ambulance, and Ted manages to grab the emergency vehicle with the BUG's legs. Mento sends his team to stop Blue Beetle, and retrieve the ambulance...



...and things suddenly look bad for Calhoun and Blue Beetle. Mento's team quickly bring down the BUG, and recapture the ambulance. At that point, when all hope looks lost, the Teen Titans arrive on the scene!


Holy moley! There was A LOT going on this issue, almost too much. It was a bit difficult to track of it all. I read, and re-read it a few times before sitting down to do this recap. I guess it's a reminder of all the plots and sub-plots Len Wein started on this run, some of which sadly were never resolved. As for the guest appearance of the Titans...I'm on the fence. I know that around this time the Titans were one of DC's top attractions, outselling even the the Justice League, and I did read their book for a while, but it never really clicked for me. So, while the guest spot makes sense in a cross-promotional kind of way it really didn't do much for me. Oh, well...it's only part one, maybe Mento will succeed and destroy the Teen Titans? No, we know that won't happen...but a guy can dream right?


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blue Beetle #50 (Charlton)

I know, I know..."Issue #50?! You just covered #5 a month ago!" Yes, I did. See, Charlton decided (for reasons unknown to me) to cease their book "Unusual Tales" at issue #49, and have Blue Beetle pick things up with #50 just a couple months after #5 hit the stands. It's probably best not to think about those decisions too hard, and just jump into the story instead. So from writer Joe Gill, and the art team of Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico here's "Blue Beetle Meets The Evil Mister Crabb And His Monster Of Doom...The Scorpion"!


 

Miss Doris Byers has asked Dan Garrett to accompany her to the Texas Gulf. She's hoping he can help her locate her father, who disappeared from a collapsing oil rig. 



The duo approaches a nearby rig owned by Crabb Oil and are greeted first by a billy-club wielding bully, then by a gun toting thug. They're eventually led to Crabb, who Ms. Byers says is an outsider, a new comer to the oil business. Dan immediately suspects he may have had something to do with the disappearance of Mr. Byers, and when one of Crabb's men lets something slip about Byers and an oil rig it looks like his instinct is correct. For his part Crabb has heard of Garrett "a notorious meddler", and he's none too happy about them asking questions. He calls for one of his thugs to deal with Garrett and Byers, but the duo escapes. Dan shouts for Doris to dive into the sea, while he holds back Crabb's men. 



He then follows her into the sea shortly after, and uses the cover of the ocean to take the scarab from his pocket and become the Blue Beetle! Just in time too, as Doris went from the frying pan and into the fire...a hammerhead shark is soon circling them in the water! As the Blue Beetle he takes out the shark with a single blow, and rescuing Ms. Byers assures her Dan Garrett is safe...and that's when a giant mechanical scorpion from the depths of the ocean and snatches Ms. Byers in its claws!


Blue Beetle follows the metal beast down into the water, but soon finds himself captured in a giant metal claw. He fights with the strength granted him by the Pharaohs and nearly frees himself before being grabbed by the second claw and "stung" by the scorpion's stinger! 



Mr. Crabb pulls his body inside the mechanical monster to prove to Ms. Byers that no one can stop him. They make their way to an undersea base, where we learn that Mr. Byers is still alive, and has been held captive by Crabb. The villain wants Byers to sign away all of his oil rights, but so far he's held out. Using Doris as leverage he believes he'll get what he wants. But when one of the thugs brings Doris to her father's cell, something unexpected happens. Mr. Byers manages to knockout the henchman and steal his gun! 



If that wasn't enough, Blue Beetle leaps back to action, taking out three more of Crabb's men...before finding himself trapped behind a steel door as Crabb fills the room with deadly carbon monoxide gas. It's the Byers family to the rescue! Mr. Byers tries to get the drop on Crabb, but the villain is surprisingly quick on the draw! It's enough of a distraction to allow Blue Beetle to punch through the wall. 



Crabb manages to slip away. The trio discovers Crabb has been collecting barrels upon barrels of oil and gasoline. They also learn that even though Crabb has vanished, his thugs haven't. With Blue Beetle back and at full power again, the thugs don't stand a chance! 



He takes them out with relative ease, and then moves on to tearing apart the scorpion! During the fight though several barrels were damaged. Oil and gas are leaking and in danger of catching fire, locating Crabb will have to wait. Quickly Blue Beetle grabs Byers and his daughter and rushes them to safety. Crabb has gotten away for now, but if he ever turns up Blue Beetle will be ready for him!


Ok...I have to confess, as much as I've loved these silver age adventures, this one left me a little flat. I mean, Crabb got the better of Blue Beetle not once, but twice! Our hero seems to stumble through this story getting by on dumb luck, not how I prefer to see him. Crabb's motivation, his plan and purpose, are never really fleshed out either. He's hoarding oil and gas, presumably it's a money making scheme, but its not really clear. On the plus side...it's a Blue Beetle comic, and that's something we don't have right now.