“Because You Demanded It –“, that’s what the starburst at the top of the opening splash page announced. I wasn’t sure I demanded anything, I mean I’d only just started collecting comics and I’d never heard of the guy before, but Superman was in the first issue of “Secret Origins”, and this Blue Beetle guy was headlining issue #2 so he must be pretty important too, right? Well, I guess importance is in the eye of the beholder. Some people don’t think much of Blue Beetle, some have no idea that the character has been around since the late 1930’s*, and some don’t even know he exists at all. After my first exposure to him though I was a fan, and was sure he was going to become an A-list DC character…well, he became a character alright, bwah-hahahahahahahaha! But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. I want to take you on the same introductory journey I had.
“Secret Origins” #2 is a great retelling of both Dan Garrett and Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle origins by Len Wein and Gil Kane. Dan Garrett, professor, archaeologist and a bit of a bad-ass, heads off to Egypt in search of a lost tomb. Before he leaves, though, we’re also introduced to one of his students Ted Kord. Ted’s a pretty bright guy majoring in electronics and taking Professor Garrett’s history class because he figures you can never be too smart. Garrett heads off to Egypt and in no time finds himself at dinner with a lady archaeologist AND in a fight with a dictator. See what I mean? Bad-ass! Once back at the dig site, they uncover the tomb of the Pharaoh Kha-Ef-Re, whose sarcophagus is guarded by “an ancient azure scarab – like some sort of BLUE BEETLE!” Once he touches it, Dan finds himself face to face with…the ghost of a Pharaoh? A god? It was never exactly clear to me to be honest. In any case the being charges Dan to use the scarab to rid the world of evil with the power of THE BLUE BEETLE! Meanwhile the dictator prepares to bomb the tomb, which Dan sees with special super vision, just from holding the scarab! He quickly speaks the magic words “Kaji Dha!” to release the power, and costume, of the Blue Beetle to save the day. The bomb explodes and somehow animates, and enlarges, the mummy of Kha-Ef-Re, which Dan takes out with ease before smashing the dictator’s plane and the lady’s heart. “I’m afraid there can no longer be an ‘us’, pretty lady. I have a sacred mission now…” Yep, Dan, kind of like Bogie in “Casablanca”, decides he can’t be tied down and it’s best if he fights evil as a bachelor.
Flash forward a few years and Ted tracks down his old professor for some help. Ted’s mad scientist uncle, Jarvis Kord, has used Ted’s knowledge and expertise to help him create an army of dangerous robots as part of a plan for world domination. Ted has managed to track his uncle to Pago Island, and thinks Garrett’s archaeological experience (he has no idea about the Blue Beetle) may help locate Jarvis’ hidden lab. The moment they land Dan and Ted are attacked by, you guessed it, dangerous robots! Figuring he has nothing to lose Dan shouts the magic words “Kaji Dha!” and starts kicking robo-butt! Not willing to accept defeat, Jarvis cranks the power up, to eleven, but that overloads the system. The resulting explosions kill Jarvis and fatally wound Garrett, who’s dying wish is for Ted to take over for him. Ted swears to carry on the legacy of the Blue Beetle, but before he can get his hands on the scarab, the floor of the lab begins to collapse and Dan is swept away under the rubble. Once off the island and back home Ted decides the best way to carry on is through training and technology, and within 3 short pages we are introduced to the NEW Blue Beetle!
Indiana Jones style archaeology, giant mummies, mad scientists, robots, superheroes…in my young hands I thought this book had it all! I needed to find out more about this Blue Beetle guy! And all I had to do was wait 30 days for the first issue of “his own monthly magazine” according to the final caption box.
Luckily, you just need to wait 7 days till the next post! See you then!
*The original BB’s first appearance was in “Mystery Men Comics” #1, August 1939