Archive for Blue Beetle

Friday Night Fights: The Bigger They Are…

Now kids, you say the weekend’s got here, and you feel you just can’t get it started without some sort of random and moderately senseless violence? I got good news for ya — you’ve come to the right place. ‘Round here, the weekend’s reserved for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes from November 2007′s Blue Beetle #19 by John Rogers, Keith Giffen, David Baldeon, and Steve Bird, as Beetle brings Giganta down to earth with a few amazingly accurate punches to her nervous system’s pressure points:

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And for our musical selection for tonight, I tried to figure out what on earth kinda song you’d pick to accompany a fight with a woman who can grow as tall as she wants, and I decided to go with this song by Storm Large. (And that link is probably not safe for work AT ALLand the funniest thing you’re going to see or hear this entire weekend. Y’all have been warned.)

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Nothing Matters but the Blue Beetle

Booster Gold #21

Rip Hunter is acting mysterious, Booster meets Nightwing/Batman, and the Black Beetle makes an appearance.

Okay, that’s enough of that. It’s an alright story — and it’s a lot better than most recent “Booster Gold” stories — but no one cares about Booster. What’s important is the backup story.

The backup story stars Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle.

Good gravy, how much have I missed this guy?

We get Jaime, Paco, and Brenda hanging around a burger joint wondering why superheroes don’t get their own henchmen when the city is attacked by a giant yellow robot bellowing “THINKO! IS UNSTOPPABLE!” and “DESTROY ALL HUMANS!”After Jaime (eventually) destroys THINKO!, the gang learns that it originally attacked El Paso during World War II. They disguise themselves as reporters and head off to question the son of the robot’s creator, who is in jail for building his own evil robot called Unimate. He has no idea who’d rebuild his dad’s machine and crows fiendishly about the superiority of Unimate. Suspicious? Maybe a bit — especially when a horde of Unimate robots appear and try to destroy El Paso…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, the Booster Gold story was okay, but holy guacamole, did I ever enjoy the Blue Beetle story. I picked up this comic not expecting a whole lot from it, but the very first page of the backup was a colossal reminder of how awesome the “Blue Beetle” comic was, and of how much we’ve lost as comic readers now that it’s been cancelled. Everything from the great dialogue and chemistry between Jaime and his friends to the outstandingly mad THINKO! robot was just picture-perfect classic “Blue Beetle.” Not to wish anything bad on “Booster Gold,” ’cause I still get enjoyment out of the series, but really, “Blue Beetle” should be the lead feature. That’s all there is to it.

Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Three #2

Royal Williams is trying to lay low and avoid Pyramid Agents, the local criminal syndicates, and his brother Charles, who, as a member of E.A.G.L.E., is becoming more obsessed with the high-ranking Pyramid Agent who killed the brothers’ parents. And all around them, the world is becoming a bleaker, more brutal place, right down to the formerly noble and merciful superheroes. The Williams brothers are wedged in the middle of this powderkeg — will they be able to survive when the sparks start flying?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the way the tension here is slowly ratcheting upwards. Royal Williams really is a very interesting character — but the way things are going, who knows what the future holds for him or anyone else in this story?

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Last Call for the Blue and Green

Two of the comics on my pull-list had their final issues yesterday.

Blue Beetle #36

Definitely one of my favorite comics series of the last few years, and I’m really sad to see this one end. Jaime Reyes and his impossibly awesome supporting cast have been the focus of some of DC’s best stories and most engaging storytelling. And there’s not much else out there to replace it with.

We pick up where we left off last issue — the remaining alien scarabs of the Reach are fighting Jaime because he refuses to join their crusade against all oppression across the universe. But wait, how can Jaime be fighting the aliens as Blue Beetle at the same time that he’s helping evacuate his classmates from the high school gym in his civilian guise? Turns out he’s got some remote-controlled holographic projectors invented by Ted Kord that let him be in two places at once. But it still doesn’t leave any good options for beating up a bunch of bloodthirsty aliens all by himself. The Scarab says it can force a hard reboot of all the scarabs, including Jaime’s own — but that leaves Jaime with no powers, a mile or two above the Earth, with no chance of the Scarab rebooting for almost a month. Is there anything that can keep Jaime from hitting the ground hard? Nope.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A good, fun story, a bit sadder than I was expecting (I’d mostly discounted the idea that they were going to kill a member of the supporting cast), and quite a bit more exciting than I was expecting, considering some of the less-than-awesome final issues I’ve seen out there. If you still wanna see Jaime, you can find him in “Teen Titans,” but I don’t read that one anymore. He’s also going to be showing up in Cartoon Network’s “The Brave and the Bold” cartoon from time to time.

Seriously, I’m gonna miss this series so much. Awesome writing, awesome characterization, awesome dialogue. If you haven’t read this one previously, go get the trade paperbacks. You’ll love ‘em.

She-Hulk #38

Niiiice cover. Hello, Tall, Green and Gorgeous!

The story inside, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the cover. Shulkie is back on top of the world, but she gets a telepathic message from her Skrull friend Jazinda, who tells her that she’s been captured by the government and she has to absolutely disavow any knowledge that she was a Skrull. She-Hulk reluctantly agrees, but is eventually summoned to a secret base where a bunch of scientists are torturing Jazinda and repeatedly killing her to watch her resurrect herself. Of course, Shulkie can’t stay quiet for long, so she moves in to save Jazinda. But then she gets attacked by the Man-Elephant (snicker), but the cavalry shows up in the form of the Lady Liberators. Is there a way for everyone to get Jazinda free? Is there a way to keep She-Hulk out of prison? Is anyone going to finally break the fourth wall?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Peter David’s run on this book has been sorta off-and-on, but he hits all the right notes in this one. The story’s fun, funny, exciting, clever. They get some nods to previous series, they get a little legal mumbo-jumbo, they get a lot of fisticuffs. I’m gonna miss this series, too — I’ve always thought She-Hulk was a cool character.

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All Hail the Blue Beetle!

Blue Beetle #35

The next-to-the-last issue of “Blue Beetle.”

After Jaime takes out a bunch of Ted Kord’s old rogues gallery, he heads off to a high school dance with his date, smokin’ hot magic girl Traci 13. And of course, the festivities get broken up by more villains — in this case, the Khaji-Da Revolutionary Army, a bunch of aliens wearing Reach armor like Jaime’s. They were all freed from the Reach’s mental control when Jaime destroyed the Reach a while back. Now they’re roaming the galaxy fighting against oppression. They want Jaime to lead them in the battle against oppression on Earth, which includes everyone from China and North Korea, to the United States and the Justice League. When Jaime tells them he’s not down with that, they don’t respond very well.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff here, including some nice spotlights for the outstanding supporting cast. Paco supports a pantsless society, by the way. Just one more issue to go, and I’m really going to miss this series.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #7

Loki is trying to turn Thor, in his civilian guise as Donald Blake, into a snake by enchanting the lips of his girlfriend, Jane Foster. If she kisses him, he’ll change into whatever animal is closest to him, and they’re both visiting the zoo’s reptile house. Once Cobra frees all the snakes in the building, things get even more chaotic.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I normally love the “Marvel Adventures” comics, but this one just left me completely flat.

Booster Gold #16

Booster is trapped in Europe during World War I, facing off against the Enemy Ace, one of DC’s more interesting war heroes — he was based on the Red Baron, and though he opposed the Allies, he was considered an extremely honorable and ethical foe.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Enemy Ace is always an interesting character, and it’s fun to see him anywhere.

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Blue Moon

Blue Beetle #34

Uh-oh, Dr. Polaris has killed Blue Beetle! Or has he? Oh, of course he hasn’t. Actually, Jaime’s armor temporarily killed him to avoid getting vaporized by Polaris’ magnetic attacks. The new strategy: flood Polaris’ body with gluons to, well, make him feel really sick. Luckily, Jaime has some allies, like Polaris’ estranged daughter, who stabs him with a plank of wood, and some of his former minions, who also lay a little smackdown on him. Oh, and Jaime’s got a proton cannon, too, so that’ll probably help. On top of all that, Brenda and Paco ponder whether they’re ready to start a relationship together, and Jaime puts some mass-media hurt on an ambitious politician’s political aspirations.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Definitely feels like a return-to-form for this title, with great one-liners, great action, great plot development, great characterization. Final issue coming up soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep showing it some love.

The Goon #31

It’s the final battle against the horrific Labrazio and his minions. Labrazio shoots one of the orphans, and it looks like he’s got the Goon over the barrel, but Franky comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, Buzzard surprises the monstrous woky by figuring out an answer to his question. The Goon and Buzzard know how to stop Labrazio once and for all, but will they be able to enact their plan before the villains hurt more of the Goon’s friends?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good gravy, what a thumbs up. Action galore, Labrazio’s secret revealed, a hopeless battle, a last-minute save, and a bit of last-page heartbreak to carry us home. Eric Powell has turned out one of the best comics of the past year right here. Go get this issue, go get the back issues, go get the collections.

Green Lantern #36

The Red Lanterns have Sinestro, with plans to torture him to death. Meanwhile, Fatality gets converted into the Star Sapphires, and the Green Lanterns get saved by a Blue Lantern, an alien who calls himself Saint Walker, whose ring is able to mega-charge Green Lantern power rings and provide hope and healing to anyone. Walker takes Hal Jordan to his home planet, where he meets Ganthet and Sayd, former Guardians who now run the Blue Lanterns. They tell him that they want him to become the leader of the Blue Lanterns.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The blood-puking Red Lanterns have gotten very tiresome, Saint Walker makes me want to hurt small children and puppies, and I’m no longer sure I can stand the creation of the Orange and Indigo Lanterns, much less the Black Lanterns.

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The Attack of Evil Lincoln!

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1

It’s the day after the Umbrella Academy defeated the White Violin and the Orchestra Verdammten. The Seance is still an acclaimed hero, The Rumor is still unable to speak, the White Violin is still paralyzed with no memory of what happened, and Professor Pogo is still dead. The Rumor takes her ultimately futile revenge on her brain-damaged sister by making her watch news video of the chaos her attacks caused. Spaceboy is enjoying a little reality TV. The Kraken is back to beating the snot out of criminals. Number Five is losing money at the dogtrack and getting attacked by — and slaughtering — legions of goons from the future. But do any of them stand a chance against… Hazel and Cha-Cha?

Verdict: Thumbs up. More great stuff from Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. Perhaps the most fun thing about this issue is the flashback to the Academy’s childhood, when they fought the mystically animated statue of Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial. The Rumor’s method of dispatching the evil presidential statue is exceedingly cool.

Blue Beetle #33

The Teen Titans are helping Blue Beetle and Peacemaker watch over a “Day Without Immigrants” protest in El Paso. Emotions are high — and for some reason, that’s when a bunch of Dr. Polaris’ magnetically-powered goons show up to attack all the protestors. Once everyone realizes this is just a diversion to distract everyone from Dr. Polaris’ real scheme at White Sands, how is Jaime, with his established weakness to magnetic fields, going to handle the magnetic villain all by himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I found myself wanting to dislike this, but there’s just too much good stuff. Peacemaker worrying that he hangs around too many kids, Kid Devil enthusing over breakfast tacos, more great patter from Paco and Brenda (and namedropping Hellboy, too!), Wonder Girl getting off an unusual number of good one-liners, and Jaime once again using science to defeat bad guys.

Wonder Woman #26

The Greek gods return to Olympus to find that it’s been creatively defiled by Darkseid’s New Gods. Elsewhere, Diana Prince and her team of agents from the DMA respond to an emergency call at a shopping mall to find a lot of destruction and a lot of dead or dying civilians. When Wonder Woman investigates, she finds something calling itself Genocide, something that appears to be a god, and it effortlessly beats the snot out of her.

Verdict: Ehh, not sure yet. Wondy getting her butt kicked is rare enough in this comic — are they going to come up with something good to go along with it, or is this just another cheesy tie-in with “Final Crisis”?

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Cancellation Roulette and the Digital Gamble

In light of the news of the cancellation of “Blue Beetle,” a comic that he helped turn into the best comic DC published, John Rogers ponders what the future might bring:

Although I’ve gotten some outraged e-mails from fans, I have to say this isn’t unexpected. Both DC and Marvel are in a weird place right now — are they publishing companies in a dying market or IP companies in a growing one? The answers to these questions demand different strategies, neither of which are necessarily the best circumstances for the creative participants.

Time to go creator-owned, and digitally distributed. Because that’s the only solution that makes sense for our side of the equation.

Go read the whole thing, as they say in the funny pages.

Do I think he’s right? Yeah, in a lot of ways, he’s right on the money. The only comics out there that are 100% guaranteed safe from cancellation are the ones starring Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. In just the last week or so, Marvel and DC have announced the cancellations of comics about Blue Beetle, Manhunter, Robin, Nightwing, the Birds of Prey, and She-Hulk. All of those have lots of devoted fans, but they just can’t provide enough readers to make the books profitable.

And Rogers’ advice to go the creator-owned route and distribute your work digitally is something else that I think is pretty smart. If you’re an artist or writer, it’s hard to argue that your time would be better spent displaying your work online than haunting comics conventions trying to convince DiDio and Quesada to look at your portfolio. Web space can be found for cheap, if not free, and there are a lot more payment options out there, from micropayments to subscriptions to print-on-demand. Heck, I know folks who put their work online for free, just for the pleasure of getting their artwork out there for other people to enjoy.

It’s not a perfect solution. It still requires a lot of work, there’s still not a lot of chance that you’ll get Buddy-Holly-famous or Donald-Trump-rich, and the entire concept of digital distribution is still in its infancy, with lots of weird twists ahead if it’s going to mature into a seriously useful distribution model. But I still think it’s a pretty good idea.

What’s your take?

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Your Depressing News of the Day

DC’s outstanding “Blue Beetle” series is being cancelled.

One of the books that I’m most disappointed about in that regard is a book like Blue Beetle, which we are cancelling. That’s a book that we started with very high expectations, but it lost its audience along the way. Recently, we felt that it was standing on firmer ground, and was getting a more positive response. The problem is that the firmer ground and positive response is not enough to keep the book afloat. So unfortunately, we had to cancel that series.

This comes on the heels of DC cancelling “Robin,” “Nightwing,” “Birds of Prey,” and “Manhunter.” That’s an awful lot of prominent and well-regarded comics to toss onto the trash heap.

Of course, the problem is that DC is a business, and “Blue Beetle,” no matter how much critical acclaim it’s received, just hasn’t sold well. And with the economy on a screaming downslide and everyone worried about rising unemployment, flat wages, and everything getting more and more expensive, leisure-based businesses, like comics, gaming, electronics, etc., are cutting back.

It’s really kinda hard to fault DC here. They’ve given “Blue Beetle” lots and lots of time to find an audience, and for some reason, the audience has stayed away. I wish they could keep giving it more chances, because I love the book. I love the El Paso setting, I love the focus on Hispanic culture, I love all the awesome characters. I’ll miss the book enormously, and the comics industry as a whole will be worse off for losing it.

So read the single issues while you can, pick up the trade paperbacks while you can. DC’s best monthly comic is riding off into the sunset soon.

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Beetles, Birds, and Spirits!

Blue Beetle #32

Tons of stuff happening here, but let’s keep the summary short. We get an extended origin of the new Dr. Polaris, Jaime gets a stern talking-to about endangering the trust El Paso had put in him by agreeing, even under pressure, to work with the Border Patrol, and Jaime, his dad, and Traci Thirteen try to track down Intergang and fall into a trap.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some great stuff here — Jaime’s dad beats up someone with his cane, Traci isn’t able to mystically summon anything but carrots, and everyone gets off a number of excellent one-liners. The new Doc Polaris seems moderately interesting, but he’s mostly monologuing here.

Birds of Prey #123

Barbara is stuck face-to-face with the Joker, the guy who crippled her — and he doesn’t even remember who she is. The cops scare him off, and Babs and the rest of the Birds need to figure out why the Silicon Syndicate has joined up with the Joker and how they can shut them down. And to do so, they actually partner up with Barbara’s rival, the Calculator, with Infinity masquerading as a metahuman version of Oracle. But the team may be walking into a trap set by a bunch of very powerful and very creepy villains…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice standoff with Babs and the Joker. A few good villains waiting in the wings, though I suspect several of them wouldn’t be much good in a fight…

The Spirit #22

The Spirit investigates the murder of a magician and tries to determine what trickery was involved.

Verdict: Thumbs up, just because I’m a sucker for stories about magicians, sleight-of-hand, and all that stuff.

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Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue!

Captain America #42

It’s the big conclusion of the first epic-length storyarc with Bucky Barnes as Captain America. Bucky foils the assassination attempt on Senator Wright, the Red Skull’s flunky, and pursues the Skull’s daughter, Sin. Knowing her dad will kill her for failing, she makes up a contingency plan to blow up all of the presidential candidates. Is there any way for Bucky to save everyone and embrace Captain America’s legacy? Elsewhere, the Falcon and the Black Widow are searching through the bad guys’ self-destructing base while the Skull and Arnim Zola try to transfer the Skull’s consciousness into Sharon Carter.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This ended up just plain excellent — much better than I was expecting. All the threads got either wrapped up beautifully or extended perfectly so they can be used later. This was a very long arc, but the finale was so spectacular, it made up for everything.

Blue Beetle #31

The artificially-created magnetic metahumans who Jaime captured last issue are brought to an El Paso hospital — their powers are killing them, and the only person who can save them is a metahuman doctor — namely, the Justice Society’s Dr. Mid-Nite. He’s able to stabilize them, but Intergang is planning on kidnapping them right back so they can dissect them. Meanwhile, Blue Beetle is awarded the key to the city, but the politically ambitious D.A. surprises Jaime by deputizing him into the Border Patrol! Oh, great, now half the city thinks Blue Beetle is a racist immigrant-basher. But Jaime doesn’t have long to worry about the fix he’s gotten into — Intergang attacks the hospital and takes his mother hostage! Jaime and Dr. Mid-Nite save the innocent bystanders, but Intergang escapes. But who’s pulling Intergang’s strings?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Blue Beetle is awesome, and you should all go out and buy several copies right now.

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #2

Robo is assisting with the invasion of Italy during WWII and runs into the Axis’ secret weapons — oversized suits of powered armor that give the Nazis an awful lot of butt-kicking power. Robo and the Allies end up taking down five of them over the next few hours, but it takes quite a struggle to take each one down, and there are still another seven out there. Do they have a chance of destroying the rest before the Nazis use them to stop the Allies dead?

Verdict: Giving this one a thumbs up, too. Robo’s a ton of fun, and the only thing better than killing Nazis is killing Nazi robots.

Superman # 680

I’m not a regular reader of this comic, but come on, who can resist that cover? We’re in the middle of a storyline where Supes is battling an ancient superhuman named Atlas — and Atlas is way too strong for Superman to beat. So is there any hope for Superman and Metropolis? Krypto… sic ‘em!

Verdict: Good dog! What a good, good dog!

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