Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Fan Casting #1

Inspired by the fan casting done by Ryan Daly at Flowers & Fishnets and Count Drunkula's Thought Place and Diabolu Frank at Idol Head of Diabolu, I decided to go ahead and give it a try's what I came up with...

I figure we need an origin story of sorts, but I hate superhero origin movies (Batman Begins...I'm looking at you!) where the costumes and heroics don't appear until 3/4 of the way through the film! My solution? Use a slightly modified version of Ted Kord's origin from DC's "Secret Origins #2". The elevator pitch? It's "Indiana Jones" meets "Terminator", with a little bit of "Batman" in the mix. 

Ted Kord, heir to Kord Industries/Technologies/Omnicorp, and his old archaeology professor, Dan Garrett, track down his crazy uncle Jarvis Kord. Jarvis, bent on world domination, has built a base on the remote Pago Island where he's using Kord technology to create an army of robots. Once they arrive on Pago island, BOOM! Things take a bad turn for our heroes, and the rest of the film is a rollercoaster of action! We get the reveal that Dan is also the Blue Beetle, battling robots, mad scientists, Dan's sacrifice and Ted's ultimate acceptance of the mantle/legacy of the Blue Beetle! In act 1 you get adventure, in act 2 robots and a hero, then act 3 closes with the birth of a new hero! Cinema gold, I tell you! 

Ted Kord/Blue Beetle – James Roday

You probably know James Roday best from the TV series "Psych" (2006-2014), though he's had other guest spots in TV and movies. I like the idea of casting him as Ted, because on "Psych" he has a likable charm, and a great delivery for the humor. It's not too over the top, like...Jim Carrey...but just the right blend of sincerity and absurd that I think would work well for Blue Beetle, and more importantly Ted Kord...a likable, every-man, trying to live up to a legend and having a little fun doing the right thing.

Dan Garrett/Blue Beetle – Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell known for his roles in "Evil Dead", "Army of Darkness" and more recently as "Sam Axe" on the TV series "Burn Notice" I think Bruce has what it takes to deliver a great performance as a teacher/mentor/hero. Plus, did you ever see him in the Jim Carrey film "The Majestic"? Bruce played "Roland" in the movie within the movie "Sand Pirates of the Sahara"...a swashbuckling explorer...just what I need for archaeologist Dan Garrett, and look at that jaw! He looks like a Silver Age superhero! 

Jarvis Kord – Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell is a great actor but it's his role as game show host Chuck Barris in "Confessions of Dangerous Mind" that makes me think he'd be a great mad scientist/crazy uncle...a perfect blend of intensity, paranoia and ego

Melody Case - Emmy Rossum

Melody, Ted's girlfriend and one of Kord Inc.'s top scientists. It's not a huge role, but the right actress could make it shine! That actress? Emmy Rossum! I love her on Showtime's "Shameless" and I think she'd bring the right blend of girl next door looks and smarts to pull it off.

Well? What do you think Beetlemaniacs?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Super-Team Family Sunday #8

Welcome to another Super-Team Family Sunday!
This month we get Blue and Gold with Marvel's Defenders! Ross had this to say..."I can't imagine a team featuring this group would last that long, but is sure would be fun to watch. I was always surprised that with all of the spin-offs to Giffen/DeMatteis and Maguire's 80's Justice League, that DC never put out a Blue and Gold series. They were one of the best buddy teams in comics and I'm sure it could have been a fun romp. Alas, Ted Kord was killed off, so chances are slim we will ever see such a series. Nobody ever stays dead forever in comics though, so there's always hope."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Americomics Special #1: "Sentinels of Justice"

In 1983 Charlton Comics may have been in its waning years, but there was still some life in its heroes. Charlton licensed Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and the Question to AC/Americomics who subsequently published "Americomics Special #1: Sentinels of Justice" teaming up the aforementioned characters. The story was by Dan St. John, with script and art by Greg Guler...and if you haven't guessed by now, it's the subject of today's post.

Reporter Vic Sage is live, on the air, with a story about a crime wave that's been sweeping Hub City. That sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? Like the opening of "CharltonBullseye #1"? Anyway, Vic tells his viewers that the criminals have been identified as Iron-Arms and Fiery-Icer (Captain Atom villains), and the Madmen (foes of Blue Beetle). He implores the powers that be to admit they're outgunned and call in the cavalry. One viewer isn't too happy with the broadcast though. That viewer? The Manipulator! The man behind the attacks and the man who has brought this group of villains together. He is happy with the success of his squad though...and already has their next mission lined up. A page later and we learn that the Manipulator is in fact Jonathan Barrington Collingsworth Jr. A man who likes to wear a luchador mask with his business suit, and a man who has been planning heists targeting energy based technology in a quest to achieve "complete raw power!"

Back at the lab of Ted Kord, the Beetle phone rings. Ok, they don't call it that, but the person on the other end, Captain Fisher, is calling Blue Beetle and asking him to bring in the Sentinels of Justice. Ted leaves the lab in the hands of his assistant Tracy and heads for the BUG! Captain Atom is already on the scene when he arrives at the police station, and Nightshade and the Question arrive shortly after. The mayor isn't too thrilled about bringing in the costumed heroes, but the police want the help, and the governor does too. They all agree that Dr. Rockwell and his solar battery are probably the next target, especially considering he's planning a demonstration the next night at Whitter Hall. Good thing the Sentinels have a plan!

Captain Atom and Nightshade mingle inside (in civilian disguises) while BB and the Question watch the outside of the building. Things are pretty quiet though, but just when they think the night will be a bust a hover car full pulls up at the front door. Like a clown car at the circus, the doors open and dozens of Madmen spill out, followed by Fiery-Icer and Iron-Arms! Then the Manipulator swoops in riding a hover chair and it's time for our heroes to go to work. Cap takes Iron-Arms, while Beetle dives into a pile of Madmen.

When the colorful creeps seem to multiply their numbers it's the Question to the rescue. While all this is going on, Nightshade rushes to take out Fiery-Icer, who's heading toward the good doctor. She dodges an icy blast and tosses an ebony bomb turning Icer's lights out. Cap is just about to get the upper hand on Iron-Arms, but the Manipulator can't have that, so he hits Cap with a plasma blast from his hover chair. A furious Cap blasts right back taking down the chair and its passenger allowing our Sentinels to close in on the criminal mastermind. Manipulator has one more trick up his sleeve though...the Question's nemesis, the Banshee! Banshee blasts the approaching Blue Beetle with a stun bolt, before grabbing the Manipulator and flying him to safety. Cap and Nightshade tag team Iron-Arms, disabling his power pack and knocking him unconscious, but Fiery-Icer manages to blast a wall and escape into the night. And, as the police round up the Madmen and Iron-Arms, the Sentinels regroup and begin planning for the Manipulator's eventual return.

All in all, this was a fun bit of fluff. No deep story, just action, action, action...kind of like a cartoon. In fact, some of the art even put me in mind of an animated show from the 1980's...though the art here isn't always consistent. Americomics did have another go round with Blue Beetle, which I'll feature down the road, but it was shortly after this the Charlton "Action Heroes" became residents of DC Comics Earth-4, and then the DCU itself. More on that later!

See you next week!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Revenge Of The Reach!

It's been a while since we looked at Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle...and what better way to do it than with a look at an episode of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold"? I'll be honest, it took me a while to accept someone other than Ted as a Blue Beetle...and seeing Jaime guest star in this animated series is what eventually sold me on the idea. Ted is still "my" Blue Beetle, and I'm eagerly awaiting his eventual return to comics, but the kid is growing on me.

Today we're looking at BTBATB season 2, episode 3...

The episode opens, chuck full of Silver Age goodness, with the Challengers of the Unknown investigating a meteorite crash on Dinosaur Island. Batman shows up (he just happened to be in the area and thought he'd check out the meteorite too) and brings a giant spider with him! Not really, but it does appear shortly after he arrives. After guessing the spider may have been mutated by radiation from the meteorite (no one bats and eye or wonders about the dinosaurs though, hmmm) the quintet team up to take the arachnid down! After they finish their work as exterminators, Bats figures the Challengers have things under control and heads back to which point the meteorite ruptures to reveal Starro spores that quickly attach themselves to the Challengers...

Meanwhile, in space, Blue Beetle (Jaime) is battling Evil Star. His scarab reminds him that Batman didn't think he was ready for a solo mission, but Jaime says he couldn't ignore the distress call he picked up. He does admit he could use a little help though, so he calls...Paco?! Jaime's friend Paco is home playing the new Blue Beetle video game, though he's not sure what BB stands for (philosophically)...Aquaman protects the seas, but Blue Beetle? Jaime hides his frustration and asks Paco how he thinks Blue Beetle would defeat Evil Star. Paco hasn't gotten to that level yet, and before he can say any thing else, Batman calls. Jaime's suit apparently has call waiting and he puts Paco on hold to answer Batman...and gets blasted with a "What do you think you're doing?" When Jaime explains he's trying to save the universe, the Bat snaps back "You'll be lucky if you can save yourself!" Way to inspire young heroes Bruce! No wonder Grayson left and became Nightwing! Jaime hangs up on Bats (way to go kid!) and returns to Paco who reminds him that Evil Star gets his power from starlight. Jaime and the scarab devise a plan to block out starlight with an electromagnetic field, weakening Evil Star. It works, but something's not right. Jaime's eyes go blank and he begins mercilessly beating the downed villain, until Bats steps in to break it up.

The duo gather up Evil Star and head to Oa, in what appears to be Ted's BUG, to hand the criminal over to the Green Lantern Corp. Bats lectures that he's just trying to make sure Jaime is prepared for solo work, that the suit the teen wears isn't just's a weapon. Jaime is pretty amazed they're going to Oa, and that he'll get to meet the Green Lantern Corp...but neither is prepared for the reception they receive. After one Lantern removes Evil Star, Guy Gardner orders Jaime to "Power down! And turn over the scarab! No one's holding you responsible's the armor!" Batman sticks his pointy ears in and asks what's going on, but Guy blows him off with a line about "Corp business" before giving the order to blast Jaime. Once down the Lantern's surround the kid and tell him they're taking him to a science-cell "for his own good". 

Jaime doesn't like the sound of that and he and Guy start fighting mano y mano...until Bats jumps in to break it up. It's then the Guardians come into the picture and begin explaining that Jaime's armor IS a weapon created by their ancient enemy...the Reach! They explain that the Reach sent the scarabs to various planets, the scarabs bond with a life form and turn them into heroes, build trust, until their true programming kicks in and they're revealed to be the advance guard of a Reach takeover. For once Batman tries to do the right thing! He explains he's been training Jaime, he's a good kid! Guy says if that's the case, it's time to hand over the scarab. Jaime refuses and Guy starts reciting the Green Lantern oath. "Poetry?" asks Jaime. "A sacred oath bug-boy! That's what I stand for...what do you stand for?" Jaime is speechless, and storms away. The Guardians suggest they all allow time to determine if the boy controls the scarab, or if the scarab controls the boy? Sadly, it looks like it's the latter, as walking down the hall Jaime freezes and goes all blank-eyed again. We get a quick glimpse inside his mind as the scarab explains what he's about to do isn't's just programming. With that the scarab takes control and his first act? Blasting G'nort, the dog-like GL that was once a member of the JLI. (ok, maybe he's not all bad, lol)

After trying to break into a secured section of the Guardians' stronghold, the Beetle is confronted by Bats and Guy. And without Jaime's restraint it takes them out quickly. Kilowog tries to step in, but he too is defeated by the scarab controlled Beetle. Reaching its destination, the main control room, the scarab drops the shields that protect the planet Oa then releases control back to Jaime. Kilowog, Bats and Guy all come to, but too army of Reach controlled Beetles are descending on the planet! Jaime struggles to keep control as the Reach summon him to his "destiny". Guy is convinced Jaime's a traitor, but Bats insists he's not, adding that he had the power to destroy them but he didn't meaning Jaime is still in there somewhere. While the battle rages over Oa between the Reach and the Corp, Bats tries to get through to the again scarab possessed Jaime. 

Inside the armor Jaime struggles, but finally succeeds in taking control! He regroups and asks the Lanterns to pour their energy into his armor. After a little hesitation, Guy and the Lanters comply. Using the Green Lantern energy and his own scarab tech Jaime connects with the other Reach Beetles, disabling their armor and returning them to their normal, alien, forms and saves the day! The Guardians thank him on behalf of the universe, but then ask for Jaime to turn over the scarab. Surprisingly, Guy actually sticks up for him and says the kid proved himself and should keep it. Bats even admits he thinks the kid is ready to fly solo! Wow...two birds with one stone...the kid impressed two of his harshest critics!

A fun episode, but it left one question unanswered (ok, two...there's still that Starro opening)...what does Jaime stand for? They brought it up twice...first with Jaime's friend Paco, then with Guy...but they never followed through with a clear answer. Maybe that's in another episode?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Vintage Blue Beetle Advertising #4

Sparky the Blue Beetle's kid sidekick! As an adult I'm not sure the addition of the "new partner...Sparkington J. Northrup" would make me rush out to buy an issue of Blue Beetle...that would be like buying Aquaman just read the adventures of Aqualad, or Green Arrow to see Speedy...but I bet it pulled in some kids!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Monster Sized What the Kaji Dha?

Reading through some old comics I came across a couple ads that I remember being intrigued by as a kid...but never being able to provide my mom a valid reason on why she should get them for me ("Because" or "Because I want it" didn't really work as a selling pitches). 

"GROW MONSTERS?! Yes, please sign me up!" I remember little me thinking, but never having been able to convince my mom, I can only base the next thing I'm going to say on what I was able to find online...I would have been very, very disappointed! After some research I found out these were essentially Chia Pets, cardboard monsters that you spread grass seed paste on and watched their "hair" grow...ugh! I wanted to be a little mad scientist, not a botanist!

MONSTER SIZE MONSTERS! Now these bad boys I fully believed would be the coolest thing ever! As I said before, I discovered horror movies and horror comics when I was about 5 or 6 years old. Some ads promised Frankenstein and Dracula, others Frank and Boney the any case, the "monster kid" in me couldn't think of anything cooler than the idea of a 7 foot tall monster standing behind my bedroom door! Again...I couldn't sell Mom on these...and turns out, it was probably OK. Depending on which ad and when these were sold, you either got heavier stock paper or vinyl posters. I had envisioned giant plastic action figures, or inflatables of some kind. Funny story though, I did eventually get Frankenstein, sort of...years later, while working in a video store I had the opportunity to bring a cardboard standee of the big guy home...he was a great roommate, and an interesting test of my dates...looming over the bed from behind the headboard for a few years!

And there were Sea-Monkeys! I won this battle! Mom caved and bought me some, but warned that I'd be disappointed...and I was (though that didn't stop me from buying them again as an adult...and being disappointed then too). What kid wouldn't want tiny amphibious people of their own? I fancied myself a miniature Dr. Pretorius (from Universal's "Bride Of Frankenstein") and pictured myself lording over little kings and queens...but they're just tiny shrimp...and they didn't last long...oh, well.

I find it sad these kinds of ads aren't in comics today...somehow reading comics doesn't feel the same without them, even with the potential disappointment involved,...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Costume Change: Dan Garret

I noticed something interesting recently, in 1939 Dan Garret was appearing as the Blue Beetle in both "Mystery Men" and "Blue Beetle" for Fox Features Syndicate in 1939...and with different costumes!

From "Mystery Men" #1 and from "Blue Beetle" #1

"Mystery Men" #1, published in August of 1939 featured a blue blazer, fedora, face mask and large beetle emblem on his chest, while "Blue Beetle" #1, published within a few months had Dan in the better known blue chainmail, with a scarab on his forehead and belt. The costume even changes from appearance to appearance in "Mystery Men" during 1940, even though it remained fairly consistent in "Blue Beetle" at the time. 

From "Mystery Men" #2 and #4
In "Mystery Men" #2, Dan ditches the fedora, blazer and mask for a suit of short sleeved blue chainmail with a beetle design across the chest. No mask to hide his identity either, just a hood with antennae. A few issues later and he's starting to look a little more familiar. "Mystery Men" #4 gives us a more recognizable long sleeved blue chainmail suit, with a yellow belt, and domino mask. Not exactly the same as "Blue Beetle" #1, there's no scarab on his head, but not too far off.

From "Blue Beetle" #2 and #10
Meanwhile, over in "Blue Beetle" #2, Dan got his yellow gloves. For me, this is the most iconic look for "rookie patrolman Dan Garret". Starting with the cover of "Blue Beetle" #9 Dan's gloves and belt turned red (although he kept the yellow accents on the interior pages of that issue). Then from "Blue Beetle #10 until #60 (the end of the original run) he was consistently wearing the red gloves and belt. (I always associate the red gloves with archaeologist Dan Garrett though) What gets me about this is the fact that both titles were being published by Fox Features Syndicate simultaneously, but with no apparent editorial continuity. You'd think someone would have said "Wait! He had antennae last month!" or at least thought "Maybe the readers would want to know why we changed him from the fedora to the hood?"...instead they played fast and loose until they nailed the look that stuck...which isn't a bad thing, just a curiousity. Maybe it had something to do with the credited creator/artist/writer Charles Nicholas being a pseudonym used by at least three different people? Like the answer to how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop...the world may never know...
See you next week!