I managed to get a review copy of “Blue Beetle” No. 1 by Keith Giffen, John Rogers and Cully Hamner.
Though I don’t want to be, I’m definitely confused by the first issue. It’s written in that annoying “Reservoir Dogs” style that has the reader jumping from one point in the story to another. Through that story-telling device, we see a teen-ager’s home life juxtaposed with his first experiences in the Blue Beetle costume.
The new Blue Beetle’s story starts when the scarab “adopts” Jaime, the teen, and compels him to respond to threats as an armored vigilante. How’s that work? The scarab issues its “directions” and “danger alerts” directly to Jaime’s the form of some sort of glowing blue script. Only Jaime can see it. The script is a jumble of symbols to the reader, which looks more like “Star Wars” lettering that you will sometimes catch a glimpse of in the movies.
There’s some talk of the new Blue Beetle being tied into DC’s ever-increasing batch of heroes that have ties to ancient Egypt, but there’s no real sign of that here — unless the “danger alert” script is some sort of non-heiroglyphic Egyptian text. (Thanks for making that suggestion, Luke Blanchard!)
Jaime’s first lesson in superheroing is when Green Lantern Guy Gardner attacks. It’s unclear what’s making Gardner do this, but the compulsion might be explained in Infinite Crisis No. 6 or in the OMAC Project Special. As their brawl ends, Guy tells Beetle that he makes him very uneasy — so uneasy that nothing good can come of him. With that cryptic statement (and this issue is full of cryptic statements), Guy heads off for parts unknown and promises to get back in touch with Beetle as soon as his head clears up.
Anyway, the new Beetle displays the following powers:
- Power blasts
- Technology (which may be magic disguised as tech) that forms out of thin air.
- A certain degree of invulnerability deriving from his head-to-toe suit.
- A Beetle-wing shield.
- An affinity toward technology (This may be an innate skill of Jaime’s).
- An affinity toward languages (This may be an innate skill of Jaime’s).
- Danger alerts/instructional guides (Which issue from the scarab)
- The scarab is in his body sometimes and not in his body sometimes.
- The scarab grows on his back to chest-size and then shrinks down to the rscarab’s regular size.
Beyond his perplexing battle with Gardner, there’s also a late-in-the-issue appearance of a no-eyed woman who talks in a non-sequitor. She seems to imply that she knows that Jaime is different than a regular human.
Although the super-hero aspects are a bit confusing, the issue does OK when we see Jaime in his regular identity. In those sequences, we see Jaime’s family and friends as they display warm and loving friendships with Jaime.
So that leaves me with a few questions:
- What compelled Guy to attack? Right now it makes no sense, and there isn’t enough discussion about it in the book.
- Is the Scarab’s trouble alert script some sort of Egyptian, or is it gibberish created by the letterer?
- I need the pages set up in chronological order. It’s way too confusing right now and it’s confusing for no good reason.
- Is his costume a fusion of mystics and technology? That’s the vibe I got from what I know about the scarab, but I’d like to see it clarified
While I’m sure some of the confusion in this first issue will be cleared up soon enough, it’s not a great starting point for the new Blue Beetle. No matter, I want this book to work, and I’ll be back for a few more issues.