Saturday, November 19, 2016

If At First You Don't Succeed...!

This is it Beetlemaniacs, the end of DC's 1986 "Blue Beetle" run! We've had joy, we've had fun, we've had seasons in the sun...but this is it! Len Wein, Don Heck and Danny Bulanadi are back for the final issue, #24, and as we saw last issue, Carapax is here to make sure Ted gets the send off he deserves in a story called "If At First You Don't Succeed...!"

Things pick up right where they left off last issue with Ted's father at Kord Inc...much to Ted's surprise! Melody Case, Ted's (ex?)girlfriend, and apparently 2nd in command has called Thomas Kord to let him know that his son is driving the company into the ground. 

Ted tries briefly to argue his case, even pointing out Melody has been too busy with Randall to notice what Ted has or hasn't been doing, before making a quick exit and hopping in the BUG to cool down as Blue Beetle. Back at the office Melody decides Ted was right and goes looking for Randall to tell him how she feels...only to find him with another woman!

Meanwhile, out on Lake Michigan, a fisherman catches a bite, and its a whopper! He struggles, trying to reel it in, only to find it's strong enough to pull him into the chilly water. The shadow that passes under him though is definitely NOT a fish! 

It's Carapax! The villain has been walking from the ocean floor to the Great Lakes in search of Blue Beetle, and revenge! Apparently during their battle back in issue #15, he planted a micro-tracer on the BUG and has been following the signal ever since. Perseverance pays off, because now it's led Carapax to Beetle's base! (Hold on...if the tracker was on the BUG, and Ted just left IN the BUG, how exactly did the tracer lead Carapax here...where the BUG isn't?)

At Kord Inc, Randall Truman tries to talk to Melody. He wants to explain...Melody doesn't want to hear it though and slaps, then fires him. Suddenly the building shakes, as if hit by an earthquake. In actuality though, it's Carapax! 

The returning rogue is busily destroying Blue Beetle's base of operations...and the foundation of the Kord complex! Thomas Kord and Melody evacuate the building, just as Ted, as Blue Beetle, returns. He starts to make his way to the underwater tunnel but, seeing it's been destroyed, returns to the air. Repelling down from the BUG to survey the damage to Kord Inc, he's confronted by Carapax...and their rematch begins! 

Blue Beetle tries to stay one step ahead, but the mechanical monster is relentless! Briefly blinding Carapax with a fire extinguisher, Blue Beetle manages to hit the villain with a bottle of acid, just as the roof begins to cave in on them. 

Thinking he's won, he retreats back to the BUG as the Kord complex collapses (say that 5 times fast!). Like any good villain, especially on in a horror film, Carapax leaps up for one last time. Crashing into the BUG the rogue tries to charge at our hero, but Blue Beetle isn't done yet.

 He pulls back on the controls, sending the BUG into a steep climb and knocking Carapax off balance. Then, with the villain immobilized, he sets the BUG's self destruct sequence and leaps out of the ship, completing an Olympic level high dive into Lake Michigan as his ship, and Carapax, explode high above Chicago.

Back on the ground, Lt. Fisher is on the scene asking Thomas and Melody if they have any idea who or what caused the destruction of the Kord headquarters? Before they can answer though, Ted appears. No sooner does he appear, then he announces his departure leaving the company, or what's left of it, in his father's hands.

 And there you have it...the end of an era. Enticed by the "Because You Demanded It" lure of "Secret Origins" #2, this series was one of the very first I collected and month after month, good and bad, I bought everyone of these issues, read and re-read them. Blue Beetle instantly became one of my favorite characters. I followed him as he appeared in "Legends" and "Justice League" and he may sound odd, like a friend. This was (I believe) the first time a book I was reading was cancelled and it left me wondering what would happen to this favorite character of mine? Where would he turn up? Of course now we know, looking back some 30 years later, that Ted continued to appear in Justice League International, and Extreme Justice, and Birds of Prey...but at the time, well, the future seemed uncertain. Sure there are loose ends, unresolved subplots, but man this was a fun book! And even more fun now, looking back and seeing how much of it still holds up today. Without this series, I may never have had the love and passion I have for this character...his history and his legacy. For that I feel I owe a note of thanks to Len Wein, Paris Cullins, Ross Andru, Don Heck, Gil Kane, and all the other creators involved along the way! 

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