I recently posted another great Super-Team Family by Ross Pearsall that featured the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle. I included Ross’ commentary from his own blog, which was in part, “..."I was among the many Ted Kord fans that was not happy when the Blue Beetle was killed off to kick off a DC Comics crossover. Despite that, I decided to give his replacement, Jaime Reyes, a chance and I have to admit that I do like the character quite a bit…That said, there was no reason he could not have been introduced while still keeping Ted Kord alive as well!"
I am, and will always be, a “Ted” guy. And like Ross, I was not happy when DC decided to kill him. Also like Ross I think there was no reason Ted couldn’t have lived on, maybe even mentored Jaime as the new Beetle. Heck…Chuck Dixon even pitched something like that with Ted mentoring Tim Drake…but DC passed. I’m starting to think the powers that be had something against good ol’ Ted. “Countdown To Infinite Crisis” saw Ted killed by his former JLI boss and friend Max Lord. “Infinite Crisis” introduced the world to his replacement, Jaime Reyes, who somehow unlocked abilities of Dan Garrett’s scarab that no one had seen before. This is all water under the bridge though, nothing we can change now. What I could do though is, like Ross, give the new kid a shot. I went online and ordered “Shellshocked” the trade that collected the first 6 issues of the new post-Infinite Crisis Blue Beetle…and…it wasn’t all that bad.
Issue #1, written by Keith Giffen and John Rogers, with art by Cully Hamner, opens with a bang…well, more like a “KRAKKABOOM”, as an object falls from space and crashes in the desert. That object is actually the blue and black armor clad new Blue Beetle! Just a page turn later and Guy Gardner is hitting the kid with green energy blasts! Why? I'll be honest...its not clear, because no sooner does the Green Lantern shout out, "I WILL KILL YOU!" then we flash to "earlier" while Jaime and his friends walk down a street discussing whether or not one could kill someone with a pencil. That's biggest flaw of this issue in my opinion (besides Ted not being the Beetle) ...the storytelling. It's confusing. Every few pages we're either flashing forward or flashing back. I get that Giffen and Rogers want to flesh out Jaime, give the reader a chance to get to know him. I just don't think this was the best way...especially when you have a whole group of readers, fans of the characters and history, that are already on the fence with this "new" Blue Beetle.
Now...that said, it gets better over the next few issues...and they succeed in fleshing out the character and background. Jaime is a likable character, with parents, a sister and friends that care about him. His buddy Paco is the misunderstood muscle. The big guy with a big heart from the bad neighborhood. while his friend Brenda is quick witted and tough. She comes from money, but doesn't show it off. Like most siblings, Jaime and his younger sister Milagro share a love/hate relationships like most brothers and sisters do (I speak from years of experience, lol). His mother is nurse, his dad a mechanic, both trying hard to raise their children the right way.
Even the fight with Guy Gardner works out. We get to see the new Beetle in action. The armor seems to have a mind of its own* and provides what Jaime needs. When Guy blasts him, the armor provides wings/shields. And when there's a chance for Jaime to fight back, even if he's not sure he wants to, the armor provides a powerful blaster...and fires it against Jaime's wishes. And when Gardner gets the upper hand? The armor pulls back Jaime's mask to reveal, he's just a kid. Green Lantern, still acting crazy and talking about the bug suit giving him a migraine and Booster Gold telling him there was a new Beetle in town, backs down. "I...DON'T...HURT...KIDS!" After the GL leaves, the armor peels back, leaving Jaime, alone and naked, in the desert...while the scarab scurries up his back and attaches itself to the boy's spine.
A crazy first issue, confusing at times, but I guess in the end it does what it needs to do. We now know who the players are, and at least some very basics for the story to build on. There's still a lot of Ted material to cover, and I like to go back and peak at Garret and Garrett fairly often, but I think I'll through in an occasional recap/review of some of Jaime's adventures too.
*I know that later it is very clear that the armor/scarab do indeed have a mind of their own...but in this first issue it's not stated