Archive for Blue Beetle

Hispanic Heroes in Comics

The calendar on the wall says today marks the official beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which seems like as good a time as any to review the presence of Hispanic characters in comics. Though the Wikipedia page on Hispanic superheroes lists a whole lot of characters, the vast majority of them are either from small-press companies or are not currently appearing in any books. I’m not going to even try to address all of them, just because there are a ton of these characters who I know absolutely zip about, but let’s take a look at a few of the more prominent Hispanics in comics. (NOTE: No, this isn’t every Hispanic character ever — I tried to stick to characters who were currently being published.)


Bane – His real name is unknown, but his origin says he was born in and grew up in a brutal prison in a fictional Latin American country. He’s generally been portrayed as a supervillain — most prominently as the guy who broke Batman’s back — but he has occasionally operated as a superhero.

Bane is one of the characters in DC’s new “Secret Six” series.


Blue Beetle – Probably the most high-profile Hispanic character in comics right now — which is a bit depressing, because the “Blue Beetle” comic book has struggled with low sales numbers and always seems to be on the brink of cancellation. Jaime Reyes is an El Paso high school student who finds a discarded blue scarab which ends up fusing itself to his spine, allowing him to turn into an armored superhero with a vast array of weaponry. Most of his supporting cast is also Hispanic.

Jaime currently appears in “Blue Beetle” and “Teen Titans,” with some appearances in “Tiny Titans.”


The Darkness – Jackie Estacado is of mixed Spanish and Italian ancestry. He’s a Mafia assassin who winds up possessing a power called the Darkness which allows him to create almost anything, though his abilities only function in darkness. Technically, his powers are actually aligned with elemental evil forces, but he seems to end up working on the side of the good guys as often as not.

The Darkness appears in — duh! — “The Darkness” and the new “Broken Trinity” miniseries from Top Cow Productions.


Darwin – Armando Muñoz is a mutant in the Marvel Universe. He has mixed Spanish and African ancestry. His mutant power is “reactive evolution” — in other words, his body adapts to almost any situation or environment to allow him to evolve new powers. Turn out the lights, and he’ll be able to see in the dark. Dunk him underwater, and he’ll grow gills. Stick him in a burning building, and he’ll evolve fire-proof skin. Put him in a fistfight against the Hulk… and he’ll evolve the ability to teleport to a safe distance away.

Darwin is a regular character in the current incarnation of “X-Factor.”


El Diablo – Originally a Wild West hero, later an unpowered crimefighter in the ’80s, the current version is a criminal named Chato Santana who operates as a bit of a Robin Hood kind of guy. He’s a drug dealer, but he uses his money to benefit the less fortunate. That’s about all I know about the guy right now — his series is brand new, and I haven’t picked it up yet.

El Diablo appears in DC’s current miniseries called “El Diablo.”


Gangbuster – Jose Delgado got his start as part of Superman’s supporting cast, where he operated as an unpowered vigilante who targeted street gangs. Since then, he’s become a cyborg and has kinda-sorta retired. However, he’s been brought back around as one of the main characters in DC’s current weekly series “Trinity.”

Gangbuster currently appears in “Trinity.” Wait, I said that already, didn’t I?


Green Lantern – Specifically, Kyle Rayner. He discovered towards the end of his solo comic that his father was from Mexico. A graphic artist and cartoonist, he was given the last Green Lantern ring in the universe after Hal Jordan destroyed the Green Lantern Corps. After operating on his own for many years, he used a temporary boost in his powers to re-create the Guardians of the Galaxy, the planet Oa, and the Central Power Battery. I think he’s always been my favorite GL.

Kyle appears regularly in “Green Lantern Corps” and makes guest appearances in “Green Lantern” and other DC comics.


Hawkgirl – Both Hawkman and Hawkgirl reincarnate every time they die, but the current version of Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunders, is of mixed Hispanic descent. This is almost never referred to by anyone. Until recently, I thought she was 100% Caucasian. Though she wears a set of artificial wings, her power of flight is actually because of a belt she wears which is made of a substance called “Nth Metal.”

Hawkgirl appears in the “Justice League of America” comic.


Love and Rockets – Well, it’s not really one specific character, but this long-running independent series, created by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, features a large number of Hispanic characters, including Maggie, Penny Century, Luba, Ray, Speedy, Vivian, Izzy, and the population of the village of Palomar, as well as numerous other characters. The ongoing stories in this series are a combination of realism, punk rock fantasy, and magical realism, like in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels.

There is a current series of “Love and Rockets” on the shelves, but there are also extensive reprints and anthologies of the older series that you can buy.


The Question – Renee Montoya is a former Gotham City police detective who quit the force after she was outed as a lesbian. Knowing he was dying, the original Question, Vic Sage, took her under his wing and trained her to replace him. Operating as a vigilante, she wears a special mask that makes her appear faceless.

You can read Renee’s full origin as the Question in the “52” miniseries from a couple years ago, and she has appeared several times in the “Final Crisis” series and as a guest in other DC comics.


Rictor – Julio Esteban Richter is a former mutant able to generate seismic energy and shockwaves from his fingertips. After being depowered, along with most of Earth’s mutants, he has joined the “X-Factor Investigations” private detective agency.

Rictor appears in Marvel Comics’ “X-Factor.”


Zorro – The granddaddy of all Hispanic superheroes. Heck, he was one of the major inspirations for Batman, which definitely makes him one of the most influential characters in adventure fiction. He was created in 1919 by Johnson McCulley for a pulp magazine. While masquerading as an ineffective fop, Don Diego de la Vega donned cape, mask, hat, and sword to battle corrupt officials in Spanish colonial California.

Though he’s most associated with movies, TV, and prose fiction, there have been several incarnations of “Zorro” comics, including a recent series from Dynamite Entertainment.

So there’s what we got. It doesn’t look like that bad a list of characters — but I am consistently surprised that there aren’t more Hispanic characters in comics, especially with a rapidly-increasing population of Hispanic-American citizens. Is it just a matter of the comic book industry being dominated by Caucasians, both as creators and as readers? That is probably a big part of the problem, but the smart companies should start realizing that a more diverse selection of characters would be more appealing to a more diverse readership.

I’ve always thought reading comics about the Guild of Perpetually White Superheroes was dull as cheap vanilla ice cream — and having more minority characters in comics makes the stories more appealing, as well as making a fictional comic-book universe more realistic and interesting…

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Blue Blazes!


Blue Beetle #30

Jaime is still trying to track down the illegal immigrants who’ve managed to give themselves magnetic superpowers. In the process, he interrogates La Dama, tangles with the metahuman wrestlers he fought last issue, argues with the Posse, and plays a round of mini-golf. In the end, Jaime defeats them with Science! — but that’s far from the end of Jaime’s troubles…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is still, even over the course of multiple new writers, the best comic DC is publishing. And still, over the course of dozens of issues, the dialogue and situations are still what make it so golden. Any comic that features a little boy dancing in a dress and singing “I’m a princess!” and a superhero who manufactures his own paper with dead skin cells and sweat — and feels like he needs to tell people that — is something that I really never ever want to give up. I’ve told y’all a few times to go read this, right? Well, go read this!


Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #27

An unusual issue this time, because there’s not just one story. The first part of this issue focuses on Storm, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Giant-Girl visiting a county fair. Why? Because they need superheroes to judge pie-eating contests. Anyway, there’s an accident with Ant-Man’s helmet, and everyone gets shrunk. This would be easy for Ant-Man to fix, if only he could get his helmet back from the pig that’s run off with it. Meanwhile, back in the city, Captain America and Iron Man shoot some hoops and round up some spammers.

Verdict: Another thumbs up. And once again, what makes this comic so wonderful is the outstanding dialogue and funny situations. Ant-Man helping a moonshiner improve his still? Hulk chasing pigs for a hug? Storm trapped in cotton candy? Giant-Girl riding a chicken? Iron Man cheating at basketball? And really, the single best line in any comic I picked up last week: “Is Fancy Dan kidding?” This is definitely another comic you need to be reading right now.

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Pint-Sized Heroes


Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors

If you’ve ever wondered what the Marvel superheroes would look like if they were drawn by “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz, look no further. This is actually a collection of the “Mini Marvels” comic strips that appear in the back of many regular Marvel comics, and they’re just impossibly adorable. We get Wolverine going out to get his favorite cereal, the somewhat depressing saga of Spidey’s paper route, Hulk taking Betty out on a date to the malt shop, Iron Man giving all his friends their own powered armor, and the brilliant, kid-friendly re-imagining of the “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” storylines.

Verdict: Several thumbs up. Chris Giarusso’s artwork and writing are simply wonderful. Wolverine’s back-and-forth with the very dim-witted grocery store clerk is great, as is Hulk’s date with Betty and Professor X’s Charlie Brown hairdo, but the high point is absolutely the “World War Hulk” story. I’d really love to give away the funniest gag, just because it had me laughing so hard, but if you wanna find it, just look around for the stuff about haiku.

It’s about $10, but it’s worth at least twice that. Go pick it up.


Blue Beetle #29

Jaime runs into a couple of low-rent supervillains who are in the middle of a wrestling match to determine who will get to be the new Hellhound, while Paco and Brenda go on a “Not-A-Date.” Meanwhile, Peacemaker, who’s gotten involved with a Minutemanesque anti-illegal-immigrants patrol organization, and they try to round up some aliens who inject themselves with instant superpowers. Blue Beetle shows up to help out, but they’re able to get away after leaving a “hostage” behind. All that plus a connection to Intergang, the international crime organization run by Apokolips.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a bit too much going on in the story, but I’m thrilled that the fill-in writers are still doing such a great job on characterization and dialogue. Probably the most embarrassing part of the book is the front-cover credits which say John Rogers wrote the story — come on, DC, Rogers hasn’t been writing this book in months. Get it together.

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A Crash of Thunder


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #1

Huzzah, a new all-ages book! Sometimes it seems like all-ages books are the best comics Marvel and DC are producing. In this case, it’s a spinoff from last year’s “Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil” by Jeff Smith, this time written and drawn by Mike Kunkel, best known for his impossibly adorable “Herobear and the Kid” series.

We get a great introduction to our characters — orphaned kid Billy Batson, who can turn into the World’s Mightiest Mortal, Captain Marvel; his sister Mary, who can turn into the World’s Fastest and Most Hyperactive Sister, Mary Marvel; the wizard Shazam, who gives the kids their powers; moody pre-teen Theo Adam, who can’t remember the magic word that will turn him into the World’s Mightiest Villain, Black Adam.

Hijinx galore ensue. Cap and Mary save a circus train, but just barely. Billy changes into Captain Marvel so he can masquerade as his own father so the two orphans can stay in school, and Cap gets a sabotaged wrecking ball under control.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is really a big winner. The art is just awesome, and the writing is lots of fun, too. The high point is probably Captain Marvel dressed in a suit, sweet-talking his own principal, and trying to get Mary in trouble by claiming she’s a troublemaker. The circus train is also fun. I don’t care if you’re a kid or an adult — you should go read this.


Blue Beetle #28

El Paso is being terrorized by a giant green dog-monster, and no one knows where it came from. Well, except for Peacemaker and Dani Garrett, who’ve figured out that Dr. Mephistopheles, a one-time foe of the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, is responsible. When Jaime finally runs into the monster, the battle doesn’t really go the way anyone expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I gotta admit that I’m glad that, even with John Rogers no longer writing the book, the foundation he laid down is still letting writers create great stories with these characters.


The War that Time Forgot #3

More time-lost soldiers vs. dinosaurs. That’s really about it.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is a case study on why you shouldn’t pad your miniseries out too much — there’s obviously not enough story here to fill 12 issues, so everything is dragging down so they can stretch out the plot. The only interesting characters left are Enemy Ace and G.I. Robot, and they don’t get much face-time at all…

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Come Together


Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men

This is the long-awaited finale of Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” series. Previously, the X-Men have been stuck on the alien Breakworld. They’ve learned that the Breakworldian behind the prophesy/blueprint claiming that Colossus would destroy the planet was actually the supposedly compassionate priestess Aghanne, who’s decided that her people are too violent to live. In an attempt to disrupt a gigantic missile aimed at Earth, Kitty Pryde has phased into it only to learn, just as it’s fired, that it’s actually an immense, planet-destroying bullet.

Well, the X-Men on the Breakworld just don’t have a ship fast enough to catch the bullet, but they are able to tell the superheroes of Earth. Unfortunately, the bullet has special magical defenses that put all of Earth’s superheroes into dream-like trances where they believe they’ve stopped the bullet and saved the Earth. Cyclops and Emma Frost can get a rocket near the bullet, but they’re too small to stop it, and Kitty can’t phase back out — the alien metal has weakened her too much. The Super-Sentinel that took out Genosha makes a last ditch effort to destroy the bullet — and fails. There’s nothing that can stop the bullet from hitting Earth — until someone pulls off the greatest superheroic feat ever.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As far as I’m concerned, this is a complete triumph for Whedon and artist John Cassaday. Almost everything here is spot-on perfect, from the wonderful scenes with Spider-Man (I would buy the snot out of a Spider-Man series by Whedon and Cassaday) to the new revelations about Agent Brand to Kitty’s final act to the entirely right aftermath.


Blue Beetle #27

Jaime and his girlfriend, magic-using Traci Thirteen, run into a minor invasion of demons, getting progressively more and more dangerous, as they target a group of unrelated normal people for elimination. And Blue Beetle finds himself trying to stop threats that are far beyond his abilities. Even if there’s a way to save everyone, will anything save Jaime’s self-confidence?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is officially another fill-in issue before the new writer comes in next month, but I still think it was pretty good. I started to complain that we don’t see more of Jaime’s supporting cast — but the thing is, Jaime already has one of the largest and most richly developed supporting casts around, so there’s always room to spread the spotlight around to other characters. And it’s an interesting story anyway, with Jaime finding himself more and more helpless against the demons and questioning his ability to function as a superhero.

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Escarabajo Azul!


Blue Beetle #26

In this very special issue of “Blue Beetle,” Jaime attends a family reunion with his girlfriend, Traci Thirteen, discovers that his grandmother knows his secret identity, and fights the Parasite after the villain has absorbed the powers of all the members of the Posse, El Paso’s magic-powered street gang. So what’s so special about this? Well, nearly the entire story is in Spanish.

Aww, now you kids don’t panic. If you can’t read Spanish (I can’t), there’s the original English script in the back to help you out. You won’t miss out on a bit of the story or dialogue.

In fact, the script ends up pointing up some errors in the comic — there’s a scene where Traci appears to be in two different places at the same time — very jarring in the comic. But the script reveals that one of those appearances is actually her astral form. A clumsy error, but not a deal-breaker. Another error? While the story is in Spanish, it’s not actually the Spanish you’d hear in El Paso or Mexico — it’s Spanish from Spain, because the translator is Sergio Aragones, who’s from Spain. So if you know Spanish, it may come off sounding a lot less than conversational.

So how is it? Despite the errors, it’s pretty good. The visual storytelling by guest penciller Mike Norton is excellent, for us non-Spanish-speakers. And guest writer Jai Nitz has a wonderful grasp on Jaime and his supporting cast. There’s plenty of humor, most of it character-driven. For instance, this panel, after Jaime sasses his mom and grandmom:


Translation: “No sass!”

Verdict: Thumbs up. By now, y’all should know I’m in favor of anything that (A) helps bring in new, non-traditional comic book readers and (B) makes comics look like something other than a bunch of white guys in tights, and this story works at doing both of those. I particularly hope this helps bring in some new readers, both Hispanic and otherwise, because this comic is still one of the best DC is producing, and it still needs more readers! If you’re interested in jumping on this bandwagon, this is a great place to do it.


Birds of Prey #117

In the city of Platinum Flats, Oracle, Manhunter, and Misfit tangle with a crew of magical meta-crooks, including a lizard man, a guy who shoots bullets out of his third eye, a telepath, and a nerdy cyber-mage. Manhunter and Misfit get captured, but everyone makes it out okay, barely. With this new magical gang of magicians supplying mystical weaponry to the underworld, Barbara decides to move the team out of Metropolis and to Platinum Flats.

Verdict: Thumbs up. These new villains are pretty cool, and Misfit gets another bunch of awesome moments. We even get a few pages with Lady Blackhawk and her world’s-greatest dimples.


The Spirit #16

When an actor gets murdered on the set of a movie, the Spirit goes undercover as a stuntman so he can listen to set gossip and try to discover the killer.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A better mix of humor and mystery than the last issue had.

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Beetle Juiced

Just one review for today, but when you’ve got a comic as great as this one, that’s really all you need.


Blue Beetle #25

People, as far as I can tell, this is the best comic book, and the best storyline, that I’ve seen in a superhero comic in at least a year, probably longer.

When last we left Jaime Reyes, he was trapped on the spaceship of the evil alien conquerors called the Reach, his Scarab stripped away, powerless, while the aliens tried to kill his family and friends. Sure, Jaime still has a few tricks up his sleeve, but can he manage to get the Scarab back, beat back the aliens, stop the Earth from being destroyed, and get back home? We get a reunion of the old Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, we get some absolutely killer lines (“That’s right, baby girl. I’m the crazy one” and “I am going to hit you with this stick until you get the #&%$ off my planet” are probably the best of the batch), and we get drama, romance, danger, and suspense up the whazoo.

If you haven’t gotten this one yet, go get it now. Go buy the trade paperbacks, go get every back issue you can. If the local shop’s sold out, beg them to order you some more. I ain’t askin’, I’m tellin’. John Rogers and Rafael Albuquerque have worked their butts off to make this brilliant and insanely awesome comic book, and I’m not going to let you miss out on the fun. Go get it. Now.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Ten million thumbs up.

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Blue about Blue Beetle?


It’s a bit depressing to think that John Rogers is going to be leaving “Blue Beetle” before long.

Newsarama: Right up front, John, are you leaving Blue Beetle?

John Rogers: It’s temporary, although I don’t know exactly when I’m coming back to the book. What happened is, essentially, Keith and I always wanted to tell the origin story and #25 wraps up that origin for Jaime.

As I was breaking year three, and the nice folks at DC came to me with two other projects – one of which is a really great opportunity right now. And I said, why don’t we back off Blue Beetle for awhile? I think we’ve got it to the place, the cast of characters, where other writers can write it. Sean [McKeever]’s doing a great job with Jaime over in Teen Titans. So I said let someone else take him for awhile. I can’t keep him to my chest – he can’t be my baby for too long.

So I’ll start working on these two other things. One is a big crossover mini-series and the other is possibly another ongoing title. So while I’ve got that work, I’ll be away from Blue Beetle, but I always reserve the right to come crashing back and grabbing the reins, being the pushy bastard I am.

NRAMA: So what you’re saying is that you don’t know when or if you’ll be able to do it, but you hope to come back, right?

JR: Absolutely. I love Jaime; I love all the characters. It’s continually been the most fun I’ve had in my writing career. I have a real sense of ownership having spent the time to build this character up into somebody who had a story and a really great supporting cast. I want to go down the road with him, so I might kick in for a story when I can, but right now I want to really concentrate on these other projects.

Rogers’ work on “Blue Beetle” has been absolutely phenomenal. I’d love him to stay with the book from now on, but I am looking forward to seeing what other comics he’ll be producing…

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Blue Thunder


Blue Beetle #24

So the evil aliens called the Reach are trying to blow up Jaime’s family and friends. They’ve captured Jaime, and they’ve killed the Scarab attached to his spine, leaving him completely powerless. Back in El Paso, just about every every member of BB’s supporting cast shows up to help fight off the aliens, but on the spaceship, Jaime’s locked up and helpless, right? Must be why the Reach are in a panic, in disarray, and in imminent peril of getting blown out of the sky. Must be why their Head Negotiator keeps freaking out and screaming in frustration. And coming up at the end? That’s how you do a cliffhanger, baby.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, I know, I didn’t tell you all the good stuff. I didn’t give you the plot twists and amazing moments and great lines and jaw-dropping thrills. I’m doing this for your benefit, people. You don’t want me to spoil all the fun, do you? Of course not. You want to see for yourself how Jaime gets out of his cell, how his family keeps the Reach at bay, how Jaime keeps setting these alien dorks up for fall after fall after fall. Go get this issue — heck, get every back issue you can get your claws on. This is one of the best comics DC is producing right now, and you don’t want to miss out.


The Umbrella Academy #6

It’s the end of the world, and the end of the Umbrella Academy, too! The White Violin (formerly the Academy’s powerless sister Vanya) has used her musically destructive powers to kill Pogo, the family’s chimpanzee caretaker, and she and the Orchestra Verdammten are working hard to bring about Armageddon. She easily handles Kraken, the Rumor, and Spaceboy, so is there any chance that 00.05 and Seance can stop Vanya? And even if they can, can anyone stop the End of Everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Once again, I’m leaving out so much cool stuff so you can enjoy discovering them yourself. But the Seance is an amazing actor, 00.05 is a complete jerk, and I still feel sorry for Vanya. It’s far from a completely happy ending, but it’s the right ending, and that’s all that matters. If writer Gerard Way ever gets tired of making music with his band, he’ll be eagerly welcomed back to comics. If you didn’t pick this one up before, go get it now, or wait for the eventual complete collection, but do make sure you read it. It’s big, big fun.

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Superhero Blues


Blue Beetle #23

Jaime figures the best way to combat the evil alien threat of the Reach is to confront them directly, and the faster the better — they’re schedule-obsessed control-freaks, and throwing a monkey wrench into their schedules gets them good and looned-out.

After using his Scarab armor to pull some nifty time-travel tricks to get the aliens to give up the location of their mothership, Beetle kicks a little alien butt until the Reach distract him by threatening his family and friends back in El Paso. And once he’s distracted, the Reach know how to shut his powers down. Uh-oh…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, we know nothing really bad’s gonna happen, ’cause there’s more Blue Beetle comics on the way, but I’m dying to find out how Jaime gets outta this one. Also, we get some great moments with his family and friends, and that’s always been one of this book’s strongest points. You’re reading this one, right? If not, get to it.

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