Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Gang War"

It’s time for Blue Beetle #7 and “Gang War”*…the conclusion to the Muse/Question story arc. But wait! We lost someone on the way to the party…Bruce Patterson is no longer inking Paris Cullins’ pencils. Instead Del Barras is handling the job.

Last month, and the month before that, Blue Beetle and the Question found themselves teamed up against the Muse and his gang(s). Not just that, the last issue ended with them cornered by the Muse in an old theater! What happens next?
Tied up, and surrounded Blue Beetle and the Question appear to be in some serious trouble. The gangs have all signed on with the Muse and his plan to dominate Chicago. All they need to do now is eliminate the old mob, and our heroes. His first order of business? Muse asks for a vote on what to do with the captured heroes. “Kill‘em!” seems to be the popular response. Luckily Ted still has an ace up his sleeve…or rather, a remote control to summon the BUG which crashes through the wall just as Muse is about to make our heroes into Swiss cheese with an UZI. Chaos ensues as the police sirens signal law enforcement’s approach and the gangs scatter like bugs when the lights come on. Muse makes his getaway by tossing a smoke grenade leaving BB and the Question to deal with the cops…which Ted does with a strobe flash from the BB gun. 

We get a brief interlude as Angie the receptionist contemplates bashing her uncle’s head in while he tinkers with the Kord Omniversal electronics he’s forced her to steal. But she just can’t do it.
In the meantime, high over the windy city, Vic tells Ted he’s thinking about calling it a night. The gangs have scattered, and while they now know the plan…there’s not much they can do until Muse resurfaces. That’s when Ted pulls a Batman and unveils some new tech, “Snoopy” a small beetle shaped robotic drone with a camera and a microphone that can act as their eye in the sky. Even better? He’s built dozens of the things!
Don Vincent Perignon gets a rude awakening, literally, when the Muse sneaks in for a late night chat. “Psst, Pops…wake up! Hi. Can we talk?” he says, with a gun in the old mobster’s face. The two trade insults for a few panels, while Muse offers advice, “Get out of business Pops…while you still can!” Don Vincent doesn’t plan to give up so easy though…not after years building up his business. After all, he wants to leave his business to his son. Muse decides to bounce on the bed, giving the Don a moment to pull the sheets out from under the clown faced villain and call for help. Before the thugs can come to his aid though, Muse tosses a tear gas canister and leaps through a window. Geez he’s a slippery one, isn’t he? Richie, the Don’s son, comes in to see if his father is ok? He’s pretty ticked though that someone would try to scare him out of business and ruin the legacy he wants to leave for his son. “If these punks want a war…we’re gonna give ‘em one!”
Another interlude. Jeremiah Duncan, Kord’s chief chemist, meets his blackmailer in a dark parking garage. He hands the shadowy figure a package, and says it should finish his obligation. The figure says it does…for now, but Jeremiah will need to come up with “more of the same next week, and every week thereafter!” before disappearing into the shadows.

At that same time, the gangs collect at Wrigley Field…and so does “Snoopy”, which means Blue Beetle and the Question can’t be too far behind. Unfortunately, neither is Don Vincent’s mob. One of member of the youth gangs, a guy that looks like Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” decides that if Muse doesn’t show he can step up and lead the gangs. Not everyone feels the same, but it’s ok…the mob is here to snuff out the competition. As guns are drawn and fists begin to fly, two familiar figures drop from the night sky to join the fight. Beetle and Question throw down with the thugs. The BB gun flashes, punches and kicks are thrown, jokes about critics are made…and then Muse tosses another smoke bomb as part of his grand entrance. This time, he’s looking to put an end to things. He asks everyone to give up on his bad idea. “Go home, all of you…before somebody gets hurt!” Muse has now done a complete switcheroo. This doesn’t sit well with Brando, who grabs a gun and opens fire on Don Vincent. Muse leaps into action “NO! Don’t shoot him…he’s my…father!” With that, the son takes the bullets meant for his father. Ted and Vic tackle the gunman as the Don comforts his dying son. Richie gasps, “Didn’t want anyone hurt Papa…just wanted to put you out of business…so I could lead my own life…” he follows that with some Shakespeare before taking his final breath. Then, after a moment of silence, the heroes, the gangs, and the mobsters give Richie a slow clap that builds to a round of applause and the curtain falls with a final, black panel.
WOW! That was an oddly dark and unexpected ending! Sure the Richie/Muse bit was kind of obvious…but him dying while quoting William Shakespeare? Didn’t see that coming! Having the Question join his Charlton buddy Blue Beetle was fun. I wonder if DC ever considered having the two costar in a regular team-up book? Another light month as far as subplots…I guess that’s both good and bad. Finally Del Barras’ inks give the book a little different look. Ted appears a little thicker more bodybuilder than acrobat. Not bad, but different.
Haven’t posted this recently, so for you new readers…here you go!
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*Look at that…two issues in a row where the cover blurb and story title match up!


  1. Still can't fathom why no Showcase edition collects these 24 issues. And Blue Devil could use a volume as well. If Booster Gold rates one, why not them?

  2. Oh, and throw in that Secret Origins issue as well.

  3. I wondered the same thing when they released the Booster Showcase! The only thing I can imagine is DC editorial hates Ted Kord for some reason...which is sad. Such a great character, so many stories they could tell, heck, so many ties to other characters (Booster, Batman, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle, Tim Drake/Robin, Captain Atom...)

  4. I kinda wish DC had different imprints allowing for different "universes" so Captain Marvel/Shazam! could be #1 hero in his, BB, Captain Atom, and Question could shine in theirs, and so on...rather than all these acquired characters being forced into the shadows of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, et al.

  5. Not sure it will be exactly what we're looking for...but there is supposed to be a Charlton universe book as part of Grant Morrison's long delayed "Multiversity"...the things been in the works for years! I have a post with some of the previewed art going up soon...keep an eye out!