Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blue Beetle #5 (Charlton)

Writer Joe Gill, penciller Bill Fraccio and inker Tony Tallarico are back with another Silver Age adventure of Dan Garrett. This time around Charlton's Blue Beetle challenges the Red Knight to protect the White Queen..and the world!

Dan Garrett is enjoying dinner, and a game of chess, with his old friend Lewis Coll and Lewis' fiancee Regina White. Lewis, in an insanely obvious bit of foreshadowing, takes a loss at chess (involving the red knight and white queen) surprisingly hard. 

It seems Lewis has been working on some experiments with rocket heat shields for the government, and is a little tired or stressed. Lewis asks Dan if he'd watch after Regina, as he plans to take the rocket for a test spin. He's going to take the rocket into space in search of a metal called siliconium. In no time at all, with a mighty "vvrrooshh", Lewis is off...but in less time than that the 2nd stage rocket fails. Luckily Blue Beetle is on the scene and does some emergency repairs (I thought he was an archaeologist...not a rocket scientist!) allowing Lewis to complete his journey to...Saturn? Yup, siliconium is found on the ringed planet! 

When Lewis returns he runs into some more trouble. He passes out and nearly crashes. Once again, Blue Beetle is on the scene (mostly because Dan is still watching out for Regina). But after the miraculous save Lewis gives Blue Beetle the cold shoulder...heck, he tells him to leave! 

And when Dan comes back, he pushes him away too. He even says some pretty mean things to Regina. Once everyone is gone Lewis descends deeper into madness. While testing his new heat shield technology, and playing chess by himself, he decides to become...yup, you guessed it...the Red Knight! Once he's designed his costume and armored a horse, he heads out to rob banks and joust with fighter planes. 

Dan and Regina immediately know who's under the Knight's helmet, and Dan believes he knows why too! Lewis is obviously under the influence of poisonous gasses he inhaled while on Saturn. So, as Blue Beetle, he tries to reason with his friend. And, when that doesn't work, they come to blows...with the Red Knight getting the upper hand! Dan flies out into space to try to get some siliconium of his own, with no success. While he's gone Lewis kidnaps Regina and plans to make her his Queen. With no siliconium, Dan does the only other thing he can...he heads to Egypt to ask the ancient pharaohs for help. 

They give him a fist full of mummy dust. Interestingly enough, powdered mummy was at one time considered a cure all...not sure it was used in the battle of good vs. evil though. When Blue meets Red for the rematch, Dan punches his old friend with a fist full of mummy for the win. 

Lewis thinks it's all been a dream, but Dan explains it was the poison gas, Regina forgives him, and everyone lives happily ever after!

So, that was...interesting. These silver age stories are pure silliness and fun, but this one seemed a little more ridiculous than some. I really need to check my copy of the "Handy Space Answers" book...I'm no expert, but I'm not sure you can really get to Saturn and back that quickly.

This was also the issue that featured Alan L. Weiss' suggested costume design we covered a while back.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Convergence: Blue Beetle #1

Blue Beetle is back! Who would have believed it? Two new Ted Kord, Blue Beetle stories in a single month? Well, thanks to DC's latest event, "Convergence", which is bringing back characters and timelines from across the Multiverse, it happened! I already took a look at "Convergence: Justice League International" #1, and now we get "Convergence: Blue Beetle" #1 written by Scott Lobdell with art by Yishan Li.

Vic Sage is reporting live on the scene as the Madmen stand off against the National Guard. Ever since the dome went up Hub city has been under martial law. Tonight the people, represented by the Madmen, aim to take back control of their lives. Leading the National Guard is none other than Captain Nathaniel Adam, aka Captain Atom. He informs the group that the are violating curfew, must disperse immediately and return to their homes. When the Madmen refuse, all hell breaks loose...and it's captured live by Vic Sage and the WHUB news crew! 

Vic tells the crew to get this video uploaded immediately as he disappears into the smoke and rubble to "ask questions". He spies Capt. Adam and the two exchange words. That's not why he's here though...he's here to deliver a message. 

At Kord Industries (ha! I love seeing that name!) Ted has been at work creating a device he hopes will help eliminate the dome. Tracy, his beleaguered assistant, comes in to let Ted know that Capt. Adam has arrived. Another heated exchange takes place (it would seem Cap isn't very popular at the moment) which Tracy has to break up, reminding them of their friendship...and their potential if they'd only work together. 

The trio watched as Ted fires a beam of energy at the dome...but fails to even scratch it. Instead, something surprising happens. Captain Atom's powers are restored! Not just his either. Outside they see a burst of color in the sky. Cap immediately recognizes it as the villain Dr. Spectro and goes on the attack. As they fight, another player appears on the scene...none other than Booster Gold! 

Problem is, this is Earth-4, the Charlton versions of these characters...and no one has any idea who Booster is! Cap blasts him, knocking Gold into a nearby building. Then, just as Blue Beetle arrives on the scene, Booster disappears...

...and so do Cap and Spectro's powers. Hey, deja vu! I think we saw this play out from another angle in "Futures End: Booster Gold"!

Beetle catches a falling Capt. Adam, just as the Question shows up. The trio comes together (maybe Tracy's speech  earlier worked on Cap?) and tries to solve the mystery of the dome, in just a few short panels. but before they can Telos appears, and this time not as a disembodied voice...he actually forms himself from the rubble of a building, to make his standard "Convergence" announcement. 

Tracy arrives, piloting the BUG, as the gang ponders what they've learned. To survive, they need to fight another group of heroes, something the Question isn't too thrilled about, especially when he and Blue Beetle don't really have any super powers...luckily, Captain Atom's powers have returned...again...just as the dome appears to open up!

That was fun! I mean any Blue Beetle story that opens with an appearance by the Madmen gets bonus points from me. Not sure why they called it "Blue Beetle" though. The Question and Captain Atom appear just as much as Blue Beetle. I guess "Convergence: Charlton Action Heroes" just didn't have that same ring to it? The art was solid. The issue was well paced, and actually shied away from some of the tropes the other "Convergence" #1's had. Namely, Telos wasn't a projection or disemboddied voice...he freakin' formed himself out the rubble, and secondly, we never got to see the other heroes! The inside front cover and the last page let us know who the other team is though...the Legionnaires! Yup, Blue Beetle and friends may have their work cut out for them next issue! Hmmm...I contribute over at the Legion of Super-Bloggers page. I wonder if I should post my notes on issue #2 here, or there?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Charlton Blue Beetle Contest That Was

If you were around in 1964 you could have had a chance to win some original Blue Beetle art...just by picking between these 2 images. I wonder who won?

Well, come to think of it, I think we fans won...really glad they didn't go with those striped shorts!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Convergence: Justice League International #1

Blue Beetle is back baby! Well, sort of...for the moment. DC's latest event, "Convergence", aims to bring back characters and timelines from across the Multiverse...and with them, Blue Beetle! So let's take a look at the first one, "Convergence: Justice League International" #1, written by Ron Marz with art by Mike Manley.

Metropolis is under siege by Metallo and his army of metallic men. Who will save the citizens of Superman's city? Look up in the sky! It''s...the Justice League International! 

Blue Beetle! Captain Atom! Fire! Ice! Martian Manhunter and...Red Tornado? I don't remember Red Tornado being part of the JLI...but, ok. Another difference? The heroes don't have any of their powers! Luckily Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, is great with technology and gadgets. Plus, he's never had to rely on powers himself. And thanks to his technical savvy he's kept Red Tornado active and created some gadgets for his team. Heck, he even takes out Metallo with surprising ease. 

Ever since the dome went up (in "Convergence" we learn that Brainiac has been collecting cities and heroes from various points in the Multiverse), everyone that had powers has found themselves ordinary people...but the League carries on.

They limp back to base a little battered and bruised. The BUG is damaged, Ted has a broken arm, but Metallo has been dropped off into Dr. Hamilton's custody, and his robot army has been delivered to S.T.A.R. Labs for parts. 

We get a hint that Blue Beetle and Fire are a couple (or at the very least she's really into him), before Ted and J'onn head off to do some repairs on the BUG. As the two chat, we learn they tried, unsuccessfully, to break out of the dome a year ago. Ted is leading the team, but feels like he's just barely holding things together...and by that he means the team, and the city. J'onn thinks maybe they should try breaking out again, be more proactive. Ted says they can't fix everything, J'onn says that doesn't mean they shouldn't try. And then Ice interrupts. Something is happening!

Up on the roof, the League sees the Multiverse broadcast over the panels of the dome. 

Telos, Brainiac's living planet, speaks, "Citizens of my world! I have brought this convergence upon you." He goes on to explain that the domes will be removed, champions will rise and in the end...there can be only one! It's like "Highlander" with superheroes! With that the League finds their powers restored. With great power comes great urges to use them and everyone but Blue Beetle seems ready and primed for Telos' competition. Ted wants to find another way...but there may not be a choice, because at that moment, a different League appears on the roof of the Daily Planet...a League with its own Blue Beetle...

...a League from the world of "Kingdom Come"!

So, that was...interesting. The art was decent, not what I'd have expected. I mean, when you think JLI you think Kevin Maguire right? Maybe Ty Templeton or Adam Hughes? Manley's art is decent enough, it just seems a little off for this particular book. Maybe that's just me wanting to see the return of an artist I associate with this team though? Story wise, I feel like it was...ok. I loved seeing Ted step into the leader role, but something was still felt amiss, and don't get me started on the formulaic feel of most of these "Convergence" titles either. Heroes without powers struggle to adapt to their new world, Telos announces a trial by combat, powers are restored and heroes from another Multiverse appear on the scene. Don't get me wrong, JLI vs Kingdom Come certainly appeals to me...just hoping part two breaks up the formula a bit. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blue Beetle: 1st Thursday with Cully Hamner

It's time for another thrilling Blue Beetle: 1st Thursday...this time we have a gorgeous Jaime Reyes done for me by Cully Hamner at the 2013 Baltimore Comic Con!


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Blue Beetle #4 (Fox) Part 3

Here's part three of Blue Beetle #4. 

This time Dan Garret, the golden age Blue Beetle goes up against...duh-duh-dunn...grave robbers!

(click the pages to enlarge)