Archive for Blue Beetle



Blue Beetle #22

Hot on the trail of the evil alien race called the Reach, Jaime and Danni Garrett, granddaughter of the original Blue Beetle, go diving into an active volcano to find proof that the Reach are up to no good. They run into Tovar the Lava King, a mighty warrior prone to a lot of hollering about “Less talk! More VENGEANCE!” What’s Tovar’s place in the Reach’s plan? What does Tovar do when he finds out what he’s expected to do?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Reach storyline is advancing very well. There’s a lot of cool stuff with Jaime’s family. And Tovar is a fun character — I hope someone can figure out a way to bring him back someday.


Green Lantern #26

Who are the Alpha Lanterns? I dunno. They don’t bother telling us in this issue.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Come on, don’t tease us with a cover that promises one thing while delivering a bunch of disconnected soap-opera blather.


The Umbrella Academy #4

In the wake of the battle against the Terminauts, the Academy family continue to squabble amongst each other, little suspecting that Vanya, the powerless, unheroic sister, has gone over to the evil Orchestra Verdammten. The diabolical Conductor claims that Vanya is the most powerful and most dangerous member of her family, and he proceeds to torture her to try to bring out her full potential. The eventual result: Vanya is transformed into la Viole Blanche, or the White Violin, a woman who can kill with music. Is she going to destroy the Orchestra Verdammten? The Umbrella Academy? The entire world? Why not all three?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is still one of the best comics to come out in the past year, and you’re missing out if you don’t read it.

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Justice for All

Busy, busy, busy. Do I have time for some comics reviews? Yes, I think I do.


Justice Society of America #11

The “Kingdom Come” Superman is still around. He says his version of Earth has been destroyed. (It has? Has anyone told DC? I think they think it’s still around.) Power Girl is breaking up about being the last survivor of Earth-2. The rest of the team helps save the new Judomaster (a martial arts expert whose special power is that she can’t be hit by anyone) from a bunch of Yakuza super-assassins.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But that might be because I’m a fan of the team. No, not really the highest recommendation, is it?


Lobster Johnson #4

More pulp goodness from Mike Mignola. The evil Memnan Saa has a vril-powered dragon, and he hopes that an army of them will help him conquer the world. Jim Sacks is dead, but he was dead before — his vril-powered armor has empowered his spirit, and he strikes a near-deadly blow against Saa’s forces. Can Lobster Johnson get the good guys — and himself — out safely?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An enthusiastic thumbs up this time. I love pulp and horror, and Mignola may be the best pulp/horror writer the comics industry has ever seen.


Blue Beetle #21

First, let’s all enjoy an inappropriate giggle at that cover, okay?

As for the story, the Spectre, God’s own vengeful and extremely violent Spirit of Judgment, has taken up residence at a local prison, where he’s gorily slaughtering prisoners who were involved in a deadly prison riot. One of the prisoners is Luis, the guy who injured Jaime’s father, and if the guard who Luis attacked dies, the Spectre will kill him, too. Beetle can’t figure out how he’s supposed to stop an omnipotent spirit — both his father and his (secret) girlfriend Traci Thirteen advise him to forgive Luis and let go of his anger. But will something so simple be of any use against a horrific monster like the Spectre?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This issue wasn’t even written by regular writer John Rogers, but the characters of Jaime, his family, and friends are so well-established that the fill-in writer still does an excellent job. I’m not all that happy with the inclusion of the Spectre — any value he used to have as a character has pretty much disappeared. I could write a great deal more about the problems with the Spectre — and I will, later. Not today. Too busy.

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Kingdom Coming Back?


Justice Society of America #10

The Justice Society is rocked by the appearance of a new, older version of Superman. He’s a dead-ringer for Power Girl’s dead cousin from Earth-2, but he is in fact from Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ very popular “Kingdom Come” comic from a decade or so ago, which Starman identifies as Earth-22. The JSA are well and truly freaked out about him and lock him in their board room, fearing he’s some sort of evil duplicate. Supes and Obsidian have a heart-to-heart, then Supes busts out to go rescue a girl trying to commit suicide.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still not sure that I like the idea of dragging “Kingdom Come” even this close to DC’s continuity, I do like Supes’ characterization a lot. It’s also nice to see Obsidian again, since he hadn’t done more than make single-panel appearances since this series re-launched. Also very awesome: Superman’s flashbacks to his home universe are lushly painted by Alex Ross himself.


Blue Beetle #20

This is a crossover with the Sinestro Corps War storyline going on over in the Green Lantern comics. One of the Sinestro Corps rings decides that Christopher Smith — thuggish biker, mentor to Jaime Reyes, and the former hero named Peacekeeper — should be the next member of the Sinestros, because he’s unknowingly carrying one of the scarabs created by the evil alien empire called the Reach. So Jaime’s stuck trying to fight off someone with all his powers plus the powers of the yellow power rings. Brik, one of the Green Lanterns, shows up to help, but they’re still getting skunked. Is there any way to beat both the scarab and the ring to save the man trapped inside?

The fact is that sales for this comic are way low — like “imminent cancellation” low. But DC knows they’ve got a great character here, and they don’t want to give up on the book — hence, you’ve got Beetle joining the Teen Titans and a crossover with DC’s very popular Sinestro Corps crossover here. Not sure this one is going to do the job — heck, we only get a brief glimpse of Jaime’s family and friends, and his supporting cast are just about the best thing about the comic. Still, “Blue Beetle” is one of DC’s very best comics, and I do hope that you — yes, you — will go pick up a few issues.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Even when it’s not at its best, this comic is very, very good.


Countdown to Mystery #2

In the feature story, the new Dr. Fate battles a demon on the mortal plane and in hell, and in his civilian guise as the homeless Kent Nelson, he gets a job picking up trash at a cheap motel. In the backup story, Darkseid tells Eclipso that it was actually created by the Lord of Apokolips, not by God, and Plastic Man goes off the deep end, attacking his son and teaming up with Woozy Winks to commit crimes.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Thumbs way, way down. The Dr. Fate story is fine, but there are no depths to my loathing of the Plastic Man story. Turning Plas into a supervillain is bad enough — and more than enough to earn the creators my undying hatred from now ’til the heat death of the universe — but revamping Woozy Winks from addled but good-natured doofus to hardened criminal? That’s the thing that really makes me mad. It’s everything that disgusts me about DC’s recent trends of embracing darkness and violence, and just disrespecting their characters and the artists who originally created them. It’s a stupid and self-destructive business strategy, as far as I’m concerned.

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Doing it Quick like a, um, Beetle

More fast reviews! ‘Cause I’m a busy man! I got work to do! Meetings to attend! Candy to eat! So onward! REVIEWS!


Blue Beetle #19

The extremely tall Giganta, one of Wonder Woman’s enemies, shows up to take down local crimelord La Dama, who’s secretly the beloved aunt of Jaime Reyes’ friend Brenda. Whoa, complication! Can Jaime save La Dama and still preserve the secret she’s been keeping from Brenda? Umm, no, he really can’t.

Verdict: Thumbs up! Good action, good jokes, decent soap opera. Paco gets the best lines, as usual. Have I told y’all to start buying this? You’ve been ignoring me, haven’t you? Don’t make me beat you!


Teen Titans #51

Oh, spit! It’s the evil Titans from the future! But I thought they stopped existing? I thought Conner Kent and Bart Allen were dead? Oh, well, they’ve stomped on the Justice League and have now sent the current Titans off against a bunch of supervillains who are being mind-controlled by Starro the Star Conqueror. Of course, the future Titans have some twisted reasons for being there, but Robin has a plan to stop them — a pretty drastic plan…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The future Titans are good, wicked fun. Hope they can maintain the fun over the next issue or two.


Countdown to Mystery #1

I’d planned to skip nearly all these Countdown tie-ins, but decided to give this one a shot because I heard it had Plastic Man in it, and Plastic Man’s my homie. So in the first part, we meet the new Dr. Fate, who, like the first Dr. Fate, is named Kent Nelson. Oooo, coincidences! He’s a down-on-his-luck bum who stumbles across Fate’s helmet in a dumpster in Vegas and then uses its power to destroy a demon. Yay for smelly homeless Dr. Fate!

In the second part, the Spectre kills a murderer, who steadfastly refuses to go to Hell, because he’s an atheist. Haw! Eat that, Mr. Wrath-of-God! Then we run into my pal Plas, who captures some muggers in Central Park, then gets accosted by Eclipso, who apparently turns him from wacky jokester to angst-ridden villain-to-be. And then there’s a flashback with Darkseid. But ya know, I wasn’t listening by that point. Because no one treats my pal Plastic Man that way. NO ONE TREATS MY PAL PLASTIC MAN THAT WAY.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story with Dr. Fate was pretty good. But you do not treat my pal Plastic Man that way.

And now, just to burn a little more space, here’s another image you will never be able to un-see.


That’s right, Superboy saves people by biting them on the butt. Comics are wholesome!

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Blue and Gold


Blue Beetle #18

Are you reading “Blue Beetle”? If not, you’re missing one of the best superhero comics out there right now. And if you’re not reading it, I’m gonna have to come to your house and hit you with a Chrysler until you wise up. So wise up.

So Jaime is visiting a private space launch facility with his friends Paco and Brenda because his scarab tells him that the evil aliens, the Reach, want to knock a rocketship down. Meanwhile, the Teen Titans are visiting the same facility because Batman wants to make sure the ship makes it safely to orbit. They have the traditional “We’re all good guys, so let’s fight” thing, then intergalactic psychotic badass Lobo shows up, planning on demolishing the rocket before it launches. Mayhem ensues.

This comic is just jam-packed with awesome sauce. Kid Devil evacuates a room full of scientists by putting on his demon act and threatening them for teaching evolution. Everyone makes fun of Wonder Girl’s and Supergirl’s costumes. Paco and Brenda get to launch a rocket. Jaime gets an offer to join the Titans. And there are multiple, multiple funny lines. This is a comic that is made of win, and if you aren’t reading it, you are made of lose.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not one thumb. Not two. Eighty. Eighty thumbs up. Seriously.


Booster Gold #1

In the aftermath of the “52” megaseries, Booster Gold feels like he’s poised to make a big comeback and become the acclaimed hero he’s always dreamed he could be. The Justice League may be willing to let him join, his reputation is slowly improving, and things are looking up… until time guardian Rip Hunter shows up and tries to convince Booster to help him fight menaces in the timestream. Someone is targeting the world’s superheroes for elimination, and plans on using time travel to kill them in the past. But in order to save history, Booster will have to make everyone in the world think he’s an incompetent dork. Will Booster’s sense of heroism be able to overcome his ego?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit talky, but it’s hard to deal with complicated stuff like temporal theory without ladling on the dialogue. The characterization of Booster and Skeets are perfect, and the entire thing is wonderfully high-concept. We also get some intriguing but cryptic hints about DC’s future, thanks to some of the notes scribbled on Rip Hunter’s blackboard.

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Blue Thunder


Blue Beetle #17

In this issue, Blue Beetle takes on a guy named Typhoon, a corporate mercenary who can turn himself into a full-sized hurricane. Jaime insults Typhoon’s lack of pants, gets depressed when he fails to save a bunch of hurricane victims, and uses his brain in dealing with both the bad guy and a ritzy hotel that refuses to give the victims shelter from the storm. We also get treated to a great scene between Jaime and his dad and to some wonderful banter between Paco and Brenda back home.

Verdict: Thumbs up. John Rogers and Rafael Albuquerque are killing on this book. Jaime’s reactions to Typhoon’s rampage and to his perceived failure to save lives are excellently written, and his solutions to his problems are both cerebral and fun. Why aren’t you reading this comic yet? No, no excuses — go pick it up now.

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Rhapsody in Blue


A very red cover for a very blue hero

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I present for you: “Blue Beetle” #16, the Best Comic Book I read last week.

“Blue Beetle” is about Jaime Reyes, a teenager in El Paso, who stumbles upon an alien artifact that fuses to his spine and gives him the ability to conjure up a turbopowered suit of hypertechnological weaponry. Jaime is a pretty reluctant superhero, as the alien armor scares him (it has a mind of its own) and he worries that his family or friends could suffer as a result of his actions. The series has been a bit up-and-down, but it does star one of the most appealing protagonists in all of comics. The supporting cast is also absolutely stellar — the characterizations are rich, fun, detailed and consistent, from his family, to his best friends, Paco and Brenda, to the Posse, a street gang of low-level magic-powered metahumans, to Brenda’s aunt, La Dama, a local crimelord.

“Blue Beetle” is also interesting because it’s the only comic from a major publisher that’s set in the Southwest, and the only one with an almost all-Hispanic cast. Your average American comic book is populated almost entirely by white people, maybe one or two black people, and zero Hispanics — a bit funky for a nation with such a large Hispanic population.

Anyway, this issue is written by John Rogers (one of the writers of the new “Transformers” movie and the proprietor of the Kung Fu Monkey weblog), with art by Rafael Albuquerque. The title alone (“Total Eclipso: The Heart”) gets a thumbs-up from me. Plot: Eclipso, a demon inhabiting the body of Jean Loring, the Atom’s ex-wife, decides that she wants a new host, and she settles on the child of two of the magically empowered gangsters in the Posse. Luckily, Traci 13, the daughter of Dr. Thirteen, Ghost-Breaker, shows up to help with her trademark whacko spellcasting. She gets run off, but enlists Jaime and Paco to help. Much fighting occurs, including the following bit of fun chatter.


Evil stink? That’s why I use Beano!

Paco eventually ends up grabbing the baby but finds that this act has caused him to be designated the baby’s champion, forced to fight Blue Beetle, mystically enslaved and turned into the form of his deepest power fantasies. Is there any way for Paco to survive? Can the baby be rescued? Will Jaime and Traci smooch? I cannot reveal these awesome secrets — you’ll have to go buy the comic yourself to find out.

This is an excellent, wonderful comic book. The dialogue is great, the plot twists are great, there are so many moments of pure fun here. There’s Traci name-dropping the late Ralph and Sue Dibny. There’s Paco begging Jaime to wish for a Porsche. There’s the total awesomeness of Jaime’s entirely unexpected power fantasy.

I ended up getting a lot of wonderful, fun comics this past week, but this one was the very best I got. Verdict: Thumbs-up times a billion. Go get it.

(And yes, I’m way behind on my comics reviewing — having houseguests makes it tough to find time for writing. I’ll try to finish up my reviews a bit later this week, promise.)

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