Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Man In The Middle"

Last issue, Ted's friend and employee Curt Calhoun got doused with molten promethium, Blue Beetle ran into a semi-reluctant team of super-villains led by former Doom Patrol member Mento...and then the Teen Titans showed up. And that's just the big stuff...there was a LOT going on! So what happens next? Len Wein, and the art team of Paris Cullins and Del Barras are about to reveal all with "Blue Beetle" #12, in a story called, "Man in the Middle"!

Considering everything that happened last issue, it's cool that the first page of this one starts with a recap from Blue Beetle himself. 

Once we're up to speed, we cut to Mento who's watching the face off between Beetle, the Titans and the Hybrid from his base in Manhattan...and he's so excited he turns his henchman from a rat to a man, then into an octopus! 

Little does he know, but some of the Hybrid don't want this fight. Pterodon jumps forward and asks the Titans to leave...for everyone's sake. Gorgon chimes in saying Mento was counting on them finding each other so he could slay them. Sadly, a few things stop this from ending peacefully. First, Changeling is determined to find his "insane stepfather" Mento even if it means taking the Hybrid on by himself. Second, Blue Beetle is unwilling to leave without getting Curt Calhoun. Lastly, not all of the Hybrid are as even keeled as Pterodon and Gorgon, and Beetle quickly finds himself caught between Behemoth and Touch-N-Go. It's not long before the rest of the Titans join the fray. 

While the fight rages on, with Mento offering telepathic tips to his team...until he shifts his attention to the ambulance containing Calhoun. 

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Lt. Fisher asks the police captain for some personal time...and plans a trip to Pago Island. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Melody and Murray wonder where Ted is. She thinks he's avoiding her, while Murray just wishes he was there to help explain what happened to the promethium when Murray's boss shows up. The interlude concludes with Conrad Carapax finally uncovering Jarvis Kord's lab on the previously mentioned Pago Island.

Meanwhile, back at the brawl, the Hybrid begin to by one, as Blue Beetle and the Teen Titans begin working as a team. 

Little do they know though, but as they fight Mento is "recruiting" one last member to the Hybrid. As our heroes take out the final few villains Mento reveals his "ultimate" member, the former Curt Calhoun, now known as...Prometheus!

So I enjoyed this issue much more than part one of the story. The action was fast paced, and Paris Cullins' art on the fights was great! It didn't move the story very far, but it was a fun 2nd act. Will the final part of this arc be a fulfilling end? Check back next month and see!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Blue Beetle #51 (Charlton)

We're (sadly) inching closer to the end of Charlton's adventures of Dan Garrett...the Blue Beetle. There's only 4 issues left, and I've already covered one of them! (#52...the first Dan Garrett book I ever bought!) So from writer Joe Gill, and the art team of Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico here's "Mentor The Magnificent"!

As the issue opens we're introduced to Dan Garrett's fellow professor, Jeremiah Clugg. Prof. Clugg is a loner, and even respected by his students who openly mock him. Dan wants to help, wants to be a friend but when Clugg sees him talking to Ms. Appleton he snaps. Apparently Clugg has a thing for this woman, but doesn't have the nerve to say or do anything. He immediately concludes that Dan is moving in on his woman...

...when in actuality the pair are actually speaking about befriending the Professor. Clugg retreats to his lab where he has constructed a robot, Mentor the Magnificent, which he plans to transfer his mind into. He begins the process, but is interrupted by a visit from Ms. Appleton. Clugg collapses, and when the woman offers her help it's Mentor, not the professor who replies! As the man comes around, she asks if the robot was speaking and he brushes it off as a hallucination. Wait, what? Why would she be hallucinating? She's not the one performing experiments and collapsing! Then he starts pushing her about her relationship with Garrett, and asks about the scarab he carries. Mentor speaks again, saying they need to know more about the scarab, and once again Clugg manages to convince Ms. Appleton she didn't hear anything.

The next day Clugg pays Garrett a visit and tries to pull a fast one, swapping a green scarab for Dan's blue one. 

As soon as Dan realizes what happened he confronts Clugg in his lab. Clugg and Mentor have been studying the scarab. They know it has something to do with Blue Beetle and think they can tap its power to increase Mentor's strength and abilities. Clugg manages to hypnotize Dan and pry some info out of him which equates to a brief retelling of his origin and powers. 

As soon as Clugg brings the scarab closer though, Dan changes into Blue Beetle, takes a few swings and Mentor and recovers the artifact. When it looks like Blue Beetle will destroy his creation, Clugg apologizes and shuts down the robot. 

Dan resumes his civilian appearance and the men agree not to reveal each other's secrets. That is, until Dan leaves and Clugg begins plotting his revenge! As Garrett sleeps, Mentor breaks in and steals the scarab...or rather, a scarab. Dan planned ahead and left a fake laying in the open. Believing he'll soon be unstoppable, Mentor raids Fort Knox stealing gold to impress Ms. Appleton and rub his power in Dan's face. He dispatches the tanks and airplanes sent to stop him with ease...

...but isn't so skilled at wooing the fairer sex. Ms. Appleton has genuine affection for Clugg, and is actually a little put off by being approached by his robot with the offer of gold and ruling the world. All she wants is Clugg's heart. 

By this time, Blue Beetle has caught up with the robot, and a rematch ensues! The titans battle in the air, trading blows until Dan drops the scarab. This is just the edge Mentor needs and as the Beetle is distracted he attacks a nearby aircraft carrier. Beetle manages to catch the falling scarab in the nick of time, and launches a final attack slamming Clugg's robot and dropping it's remains to the bottom of the sea. 

Back at the university, it seems Clugg has gone missing. As Dan, Ms. Appleton and the students lament his possible demise we readers are left with a question. Did he actually die along with Mentor or will he return to test Blue Beetle another day? 

Let me start by saying, I love the art! The more I look at and re-read these issues the more I love Fraccio and Tallarico's work! It really suits these silver age adventures, and even outshines some of the stuff DC and Marvel were publishing at the time, in my opinion. As far as the story, it's another fun one. There were a few times it reminded me of some of the earlier adventures, the Red Knight in particular came to mind, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.