Thursday, December 25, 2014

Celebrate Christmas with Blue Beetle

Earlier this year I had a chance to meet the very talented Yale Stewart at the Baltimore Comic-Con. After trading some messages back and forth on Facebook, I asked him to sign me up for a Blue Beetle commission!

Just a few weeks ago, he messaged saying it was done, and asking if I wanted to see it, or just be surprised when it arrived. I chose the latter...being this close to the holidays I figured it would be like opening a Christmas was and it was definitely worth the wait!

Be sure to check out Yale's comic strip JL8, and follow him on Facebook too!

Wishing you all a very "Blue" Christmas from Kord Industries!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Justice League 3000 #12

"Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are back!" screams the cover of "Justice League 3000" #12, "But for how long?!" Let's take a peek at what the old JLI team of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, with Howard Porter on art, have in store for our heroes...

Issue #11, ended with the discovery of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold's cryogenic frozen bodies being found by a construction crew. This issue opens with Ted waking up from a dream where he and Booster were in suspended animation for 1,000 years. He stumbles from bed, only to wasn't a dream! A little while later the Blue & Gold duo meet with Sheriff Tariq, of the prison planet they've now found themselves on. They have no memory of how they got frozen and buried, let alone how they ended up on a prison planet. As Ted says, "They really screwed the pooch." The last thing either one recalls is a surprise birthday for Ralph (Dibny, the Elongated Man), and Max (Lord) yelling at them. The Sheriff hopes they can help fill in some blanks in history, the 31st centuries records are a bit spotty...all they know of Beetle and Booster is that they had connections to a vigilante group known as "Super Buddies". The Sheriff leaves them to get settled but asks that they stay close...and in classic Blue & Gold fashion they immediately decided to run off and explore. What could go wrong?

At Cadmusworld, Terry (who looks like Jack Frost from "Rise of the Guardians") and Convert (a pink skinned alien) debate the pros and cons of letting "Beagle and Buster" roam free. 

Convert argues that their knowledge of the 21st Century could be beneficial. Terry's not convinced though, not until Convert adds that they were once members of Justice League International!

Meanwhile, as Booster and Ted explore their surroundings, realizing this prison city is actually a future version of New York. Ted figures that if he can find the remains of Kord Industries' New York office, they may be able to escape. 

Convert (?) reappears, this time as a blue skinned alien woman, to stir up some trouble. Seems there's already a "Blue Beetle" running around this prison world! The son of one of the workers who built this prison found some "ruins" the son decided to don the costume and run around the prison world capturing criminals. Convert says it's amused them up to this point, but he needs to leave Beetle and Booster alone. Problem is, he doesn't like someone else running around in "his" costume.

Wonder Woman blows off some steam slaughtering demons. While Batman, Superman, Flash and Green Lantern discuss what to do with their new castle, a gift from King Arthur. Wait, what?! I definitely need to catch up on this book!

Back on prison world, Beetle and Booster find Kord Industries...and Ted's stash! While they joke about Ted getting all his money from his dad, and Booster getting his by marrying older women, the super duo miss the fact that they're being watched. Booster does suddenly realize that he's missing his Legion flight ring, though. He also notices a booby trap! Someone else has been here before them! Ted's a little less concerned...especially when he spots his beloved BUG! And someone has done some upgrades on it, and cleaned it...and claimed it as their own! "There's only room for one Blue Beetle in this city" he declares, descending on our heroes in some kind of Doc Ock looking harness. 

Beetle and Booster get in a few punches before Booster calls for a retreat. They're out gunned! This impostor has a technological advantage. Ted doesn't want to leave though..."But it's MY STUFF!" Before he can convince Booster that they should stay and fight, the fight comes to them! The impostor gives chase in the upgraded BUG.

Quick note/confession...I haven't been reading "Justice League 3000". I did pick up the trade (containing issues 1-7) but haven't finished reading it yet, and issues #11&12. I'm familiar enough with the concept (imperfect genetic duplicates of the JLA set in the 31st century) but maybe not the intricacies. So if you are...and I stumbled or misread/misinterpreted something, please help me out by leaving a comment to fill me in. With that said, having read this issue it's probably not that big of a deal, as this focuses mainly on Beetle and Booster. I do plan to read the trade and catch up though, because what I saw here was very cool!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The L.A.W. #1: Avatar Rising

After reading "Multiversity: Pax Americana", I wanted to dig into more Charlton hero team-ups. I've already covered a few, including Americomics "Sentinels of Justice", and "Justice League Quartley #14". So I jumped in to my time machine and traveled to September of 1999, when Bob Layton and Dick Giordano brought us..."The L.A.W."

Reporting for GBS News, Vic Sage informs us that the Justice League, and their base on the moon have mysteriously disappeared! We get a flashback to 36 hours earlier, when a strange figure walks undetected across the surface of the moon before attacking the League's HQ with mystical energy. But, before they can do anything to stop it, the League vanishes in a burst of light. 

Returning to Vic's news broadcast we get a report of the same figure attacking the launch site of rocket destined to help build a new multinational space station. The being identifies himself as "Avatar", the reincarnation of a Hindu god and destroyer of the warrior caste. He also summons a horde of demons to assist him! Captain Atom is quickly on the scene, having been at the launch in his civilian identity of Air Force officer Nathaniel Christopher Adam, but Avatar is prepared. In fact, he was counting on the hero's appearance and opens a rift to capture him. "Your power is key to the success of my campaign." Then, saving (or kidnapping, depending on your perspective) a crying boy, Avatar disappears. 

With the last update Vic has had enough, storming off the set he tells his boss he needs to take some sick time...he doesn't believe anyone is asking the right "Question".

In the White House, Sergeant Steel meets with the President to discuss the Avatar, and how best to handle him. With the League out of the picture, and Avatar operating out of "countries not cooperative with current democratic governments" they can't use US or NATO forces without causing an international incident. So the President suggests Steel combine his forces, with another...the Peacemaker Project!

At Kord Industries, Ted Kord finds a party celebrating a recent billion dollar deal cut short when he receives an alert that someone has broken into his Beetle Cave! (Ok, it actually says "secret subbasement lab" in the comic, but I like the sound of Beetle Cave) The Question is looking for Blue Beetle's help in dealing with the Avatar, and he needs all the resources Ted has at his disposal to get to the bottom of things. And Ted has resources...the "largest private super computer in the world" (take that Batman!) and a newly upgraded BUG! 

Steel arrives at Peacemaker HQ, just in time to witness another attack by Avatar. He's sent his demons to teach the Peacemakers a lesson for spying on his affairs. Steel and his liaison, a man named Salt, join the fight...leading to Steel melting his metal hand trying to punch a demon. 

A Peacemaker in slightly different armor than the others appears and manages to save the day...Mitchel Black, the Peacemaker (for the this story anyway) and Salt's number one student. Steel and Salt head to a briefing where 4 obelisks representing Science, Industry, Religion and Government agree to allow the Peacemaker Project work with Steel...but they determine an operative with inter-dimensional abilities, like Avatar, may be needed. Lucky for them Steel has someone in mind.

Eve Eden, aka Nightshade, is unhappy, but intrigued when Fate (the weird post "Zero Hour" Doctor Fate-ish character) shows up unannounced and claiming he can remove the succubus inside her. 

Instead he strips her down to her "very essence" and leaves, assuring her someone will be along shortly to rescue her...knowing she has a much bigger role to play.

Finally, in the Himalayas, in the mystic city of Nanda Parbat, Ripley "Rip" Jagger is summoned to meet with the deity known as Rama Kushna. Lao, the young boy sent to summon him notices his scars and asks what they're from...but Rip dodges the direct answer, suggesting instead that although he has lived through many battles some of his opponents may have been merely old wives tales. He then heads to meet Rama Kushna. Rama has summoned him because of the monstrous evil that threatens the world of men. A shadow threatening to infect all that is good...and Rip is the source of that shadow! He's confused, unsure how he could be involved...but she only assures him that all will be revealed when he returns to the outside the Judomaster!

So, this is the first time I'm rereading this in several years and I have to say, it's not a bad start. The first (of six) issues sets up the story and reintroduces the Charlton heroes very nicely. I do recall having mixed feelings when I read this the first time but so far, yeah, I'm kind of liking it. Five more to go we'll see how it holds up.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues!: Blue Beetle and Invincible

Ross Pearsall has posted another awesome Super-Team Family post with Blue Beetle...hop over to his page to check it out!

Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues!: Blue Beetle and Invincible: It was nice to see Jaime Reyes get such a sizable role in the animated Young Justice series.  I thought that his costume looked cool in t...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Multiversity: Pax Americana

With baited breath I waited for the release of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "Mutiversity: Pax Americana". Years and months with only a handful of images to tease what was to come. Blue Beetle and the other Charlton Action Heroes would be making a return of sorts, beyond that it was anyone's guess. When I finally held it in my hands, and read it I thought..."What the Kaji Dha?!"

Jumping from an airplane, Christopher Smith, the Peacemaker, pulls off an assassination sniper shot worthy of a James Bond villain killing President Harley. 

Why? That's the question (not the Question, he hasn't shown up yet). From there, the story jumps around a bit, goes backwards, sort of. See the assassination has already taken place. Peacemaker is already in custody and being questioned. We were watching the replay. Outside of the interrogation room the Vice President (now the President) talks to his daughter, Nightshade, about the case and her future. The assassination has destroyed the public perception of the hero. Peacemaker is a killer, Captain Atom is MIA, so Nightshade can become a doctor now...its what her father wants (not her).   

The Question, up on the rooftops, talks to Blue Beetle who is in the BUG. Question thinks everything ties to the "Yellowjacket case". 

When Ted replies there is no case and that "our people" are watching, things get shaky between the two former partners. Ted is working with the government (pre-assassination) and Question thinks that compromises he uses a giant electromagnet to grab the BUG, trapping Blue Beetle. Making his escape into a subway tunnel, the Question comes face to face with Nightshade. 

After a brief scuffle, he hops a subway train leaving her with one of his cards. Later, or earlier depending on how you read this story, at the Pax Institute, the Question investigates the murder of Nora O'Rourke (girlfriend of Chris Smith, the Peacemaker) by a man with metal hands, while simultaneously we see her murder, and her conversation with Chris before he left to perform the assassination.

In a particle accelerator, Captain Atom sits and reads a comic book. Not just any comic though, the one that has carried through each of Morrison's "Multiversity" books, "Ultra Comics". 

Captain Atom comments on the comic, seemingly breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader, before vanishing as the scientists monitoring him declare "Captain Atom has left the universe." A shadowy figure with a metal hand (Sergeant Steel?) enters the room and draws a gun. The scientists plead, they've done everything that was asked...they created an artificial black hole in Captain Atom's skull...but he kills them anyway.

We get a couple brief interludes. Nightshade visiting her seemingly Alzheimer's afflicted mother. Peacemaker and Nora discussing the mysterious mathematical Algorithm 8. Peacemaker being interrogated, punched by a metallic fisted figure (Sergeant Steel again?). And the Question, uh, questioning a mob fixer/dirty cop who is trapped under a neon sign. As the man begs for his life Question replies, "I don't save bad guys."

Jumping further back in time we witness the public introduction of Pax Americana, President Harley's very own super team named for the golden age of the Roman Empire; the Question, Judomaster, Peacemaker, Blue Beetle (Ted, but wearing a costume similar to the silver age Dan Garrett), Nightshade and Captain Atom. 

Backstage the heroes toss around a couple other possible names. Peacemaker suggests "Justice League of America", while Blue Beetle offers "The Sentinels" and then "The Law". All clever nods to comic history. We also learn that the President's father, Vince Harley, was a comic book artist and war veteran, having served in Vietnam.

Another interlude further into the past, shows an unstable (?) Captain Atom dismantling a dog. "I thought the pieces would explain the whole. But it's hard to love the pieces..." He attempts to create a duplicate dog, but it's not the same, before being led away by the (future) President Harley. Here after reading this book several times backward and forward, we get a future/past explanation of the assassination. It was Harley's idea! 

"Only a super-hero can do the impossible. Only a super-hero can bring the President back to life." The problem is...Harley was counting on Captain Atom being that hero...and in the future, Atom had vanished.

Jumping again, we see President Bush (looks like George W.) threatened by terrorists who have invaded the White House. Peacemaker shows up to save the day in an action sequence nearly as cool as the opening skydive assassination. 

Then forward in time to the interrogation. Then back to Chris Smith telling Nora that the President had "chosen to become the sacrificial victim".

Blue Beetle and the Question bust a drug dealer. Ted handcuffs him to a pole for the authorites, but Question takes it a step further...choking the dealer on the heroin he was selling. While Ted worries that the criminal might die, Question's mind is elsewhere...the ultimate mystery...the disappearance of America's first super-hero, the Yellowjacket.

Finally, we see a young man sitting by the grave of Vince Harley, that young man ages over several panels before being joined by Captain Atom. Then another young man, a boy, sneaking into his dad's office. A drawing table. Vince Harley, comic artist. The boy, and the young man by the grave, is the future President Harley. The boy finds a gun, and startled by his dad's unexpected return, accidentally fires it killing his father...killing...Yellowjacket.

When I heard this book was coming I was excited to see the Charlton Action Heroes again. What I got was the Charlton Action Heroes, filtered through Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's "Watchmen", itself an adaption of the Charlton characters. You know what they say about a copy of a copy of copy not being as clear as the original? Let me be clear, I didn't hate it. It just wasn't exactly what I expected, even if I wasn't entirely sure what I should be expecting. Quitely's art was amazing, as usual. Morrison's story...well, I've read stories he's written that I thought were brilliant (his run on "JLA" and "All-Star Superman" come to mind), but there have been a few I was less impressed with ("Final Crisis"), and others I still haven't quite made my mind up about ("Arkham Asylum")...this falls into that last category. Didn't hate it, didn't love it...honestly I will probably still be trying to decide months down the road, and many repeat readings later. 

What did you think? Please comment and let me know what you thought of Pax American, or message me...

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Blue Beetle: 1st Thursday with Chris Samnee

Continuing our Blue Beetle: 1st Thursdays I present this pic of good ol' Ted, by Chris Samnee courtesy of his deviantART page!