Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Henchman"

Len Wein, Paris Cullins and Dell Barras return with issue #8 of "Blue Beetle" from October 1986 (cover dated January 1987), the issue promises..."You've seen him all your life...but you've never really known him...until now!"



Interesting bit of trivia...this is not exactly the same Blue Beetle we saw in issue #7. This is the first post-Crisis issue of the series, and Ted himself already had a post-Crisis appearance in "Legends" #2 prior to this...so nothing's really changed... 

The issue opens with a man waking up to his alarm clock. His wife points out that it's his birthday..."the first day of a brand new life!" The man, Ed Buckley, has mixed feelings but heads to the shower to start his day. After getting himself dressed he's surprised by birthday wishes from his wife and daughter, and a gift. A new tie. Ed is off to a job interview and the tie is perfect! Things seem off to a great start for this "average Joe" until he bumps into an old friend on the street. Rudy lets Ed know if he's looking for work "the man in charge is still lookin' ta fill his dance card!" and slips him the info. Ed says he's through with that kind of work, and we start to connect the dots...Ed is a former criminal who's trying to go straight. He reaches his destination...an interview at Kord Omniversal! 



Sadly, Curt Calhoun and Ted Kord don't have good news for him. While Ed seems qualified, they don't have any openings right now (why they're interviewing without any openings is a mystery!). So Ed does what any normal rehabilitated criminal in fiction would do...he goes to check out the "job" Rudy mentioned. So, who does Ed end up going to work for? "One of the biggest names in the biz...", the Calculator!



The guys hit a potential snag early though, when the Calculator announces that he only needs 6 guys for the job, so he's going to have to send some guys on their way. First guy to go? Nope...not Ed! Some guy who announces he used to work for the Atomic Skull (Calculator thinks Skull "is such a loser!") When even henchmen can't get work you know it must be tough times in the post-Crisis DC Universe! After selecting his crew (which includes Ed...because about halfway through the issue it's pretty clear he's the main character of this story), the Calculator reveals his plan, and discusses the benefits package.** Ed gives his wife a call to let her know he's got to work late at the "new job" and heads to the join the Calculator's crew at their destination, the Consumer Electronics Show!

No sooner do they arrive than Ed runs into Ted...and a job offer! Ted has reconsidered his position from earlier and tells Ed to check in with Calhoun first thing in the morning. 



Ed finds himself in a pickle now. Bail on the Calculator and he puts his wife and daughter's lives in jeopardy, stay and risks blowing his shot at an honest job with Kord Omniversal. The Calculator begins his assault and Ed makes the call to put his family first and hope for the best. He catches a glance of Ted Kord making his way to an exit, but decides to let him go...he can't shoot Ted! The Calculator starts collecting up as many electronics as he can, and decides when he's done with that he'll ransom everyone back to their respective companies...until Blue Beetle appears on the scene!



BB recognizes Ed while working his way through the henchmen. It's a pretty easy fight but the Calculator uses the distraction to get the drop on Beetle, preparing to smash him in a trap created by his helmet. 



That's when Ed's conscience gets the better of him and he takes a shot at one boss to save the other one. Furious, Calculator blasts Ed, but that gives Blue Beetle an opening and he destroys Calculator's keyboard, disabling the helmet. Blue Beetle approaches the seriously wounded Ed to find out what happened. The last page reads like the ending to a great classic gangster movie, something with Bogart or Cagney. I'll let it speak for itself...



So, while there wasn't much Ted, or Beetle for that matter, this turned out to be a great issue! Len Wein delivered a solid story, especially considering how little we saw of our hero, and Paris Cullins was great as always, and really nailed it on that last page!


*Interesting bit of trivia #2...the issue opens with Ed Buckley waking up on his birthday...I wrote this entry shortly after waking up on my own birthday!

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