New 52 Blue Beetle #1 Metamorphosis Part 1 (of 3) – Review

New 52 Blue Beetle #2 T2Hello interweb, Nate here.  So I decided I wanted to get more Comic Book Reviews out there.  So what comic should I review first?  What about the first story arc of the New 52 Blue Beetle title: Metamorphosis.  Because the story arc covers the first 3 issues of the New 52 Blue Beetle title, this review will be split into three parts.  Part 2 can be found here, and part 3 can be found here.

A Little Comic Book History

The Blue Beetle is actually a really old superhero, dating back to 1939 in Mystery Men Comics #1.  However, back then he was owned by Fox Comics instead of DC hero named Dan Garret and he was quite popular during the Golden Age.  In the mid-50s, Fox Comics went out of business and the rights to Blue Beetle went over to Charlton Comics who revamped the character in 1964 and gave the title to Ted Korde after Dan Garret died as Ted was Dan’s student.  Charlton Comics would go out of business in 1968 and their heroes would be given to DC Comics in 1983.  Ted Korde was an inventor and decided to use a number of inventions to fight crime instead of superpowers.  In 2006, DC decided to give the Blue Beetle title to Mexican-American teenager named Jaime Reyes (pronounced hi-may ray-us) who was really different from the others as he was given a alien, robotic beetle that would attach itself to Jaime’s back and give him a mechanical suit of armor that can morph into different weapons.  As with all the other titles DC had in 2011, Blue Beetle’s title was released with the other 51 titles and lasted for 2 years and ended at #16 due to low sales (hey, it was better than the Static Shock‘s title that ended at #6).  So where going over the first 3 issues of the title.  If you want more information on the character (as I greatly summarized here), I suggest checking out Linkara‘s tribute of the character here as he seems to share my love for the character (although judging by the description of the video, I guess he didn’t like what the New 52 did with him).

Writer: Tony Bedard

Artist: Ig Guara (Penciler), Ruy José (Inker)

Colorist: Pete Pantazis

Characters Introduced in this Issue

Basically the characters for this story arc can be divided into 4 sections: good, bad (La Dama), bad (Brotherhood of Evil), and bad (Reach).  I’ll try to make that clear but do forgive me if this becomes a bit too confusing.

Blue Beetle Debut

Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes): Jaime Reyes is a Mexican-American teenager in El Paso, Texas, who bonded with the Blue Beetle Scarab named Khaji-Da (which is actually the Scarab’s serial number, don’t ask me what number).  His best friends are Paco (last name unknown) and Brenda Del Vecchio.

-Powers: Jaime, similar to the Green Lanterns, is actually a normal human that has no powers himself but uses his bonded scarab to help him fight.  While bonded to the scarab, Jaime is shown to have an unknown degree of enhanced strength, enhanced speed, enhanced durability, flight (via retractable bug-like wings), and can morph his armor into a variety of weapons such as plasma cannons, sonic cannons, etc.  Honestly, I can’t go over everything he (or should I say “they”) can do so you can learn more about the scarab’s abilities here.

-Side: Good

Khaji-Da

Blue Beetle Scarab (Khaji-Da): I honestly don’t know whether the scarab would be considered a character or an object (or both) so I’m just going to list him here just in case.  Khaji-Da is blue beetle scarab that was sent to Space Sector-2814 (basically Earth and any neighboring planets) but due to being damaged by a Green Lantern (see story section ) it was unable to communicate to the Reach hive-mind (too complicated to explain in-depth, basically the alien civilization that sends the scarabs out to different planets in hope of invading said planets).  As such, it was not activated for thousands of years when it bonded to Jaime Reyes (again, see story section).

-Powers: See Jaime Reyes. it also has advanced AI that allows it to learn and think independantly

-Side: Currently bad (as he’s part of the Reach) but it’ll probably become good later on

Bianca Reyes

Bianca Reyes: Jaime Reyes’s mother and Alberto Reyes’s Wife

-Powers: She’s a normal human and thus has no superhuman abilities

-Side: Good

Alberto Reyes

Alberto Reyes: Jaime Reyes’s Father and Bianca Reyes’s husband

-Powers: She’s a normal human and thus has no superhuman abilities

-Side: Good

Paco

Paco: A high school drop-out and best friend of Jaime

-Powers: Paco is just a normal human, however he does seem to have a muscular build and thus may be rather strong (but nothing close to superhuman)

-Side: Good

Brenda Del Vecchio

Brenda Del Vecchio: Rich best friend of Jaime and is hinted that Jaime might have a crush on her (hinted, not confirmed).

-Powers: Brenda is a normal human and as such as no superhuman powers, however she does seem to come from a wealthy family

-Side: Good

La Dama

La Dama (Amparo Cardenas): La Dama is the aunt of Brenda who seems to be interested in the occult and is after the Blue Beetle Scarab.

-Powers: She is skilled the occult and magic

-Side: Bad (La Dama)

Bone-Crusher

Bone Crusher: A villain that works for La Dama that wears a skull-mask that looks similar to a Day of the Dead sugar skull (you know, those skulls made of sugar that you decorate with colorful flowers)

-Powers: None shown to be superhuman, however he has shown some skill in acrobatics

-Side: Bad (La Dama)

Brutale

Brutale: A villain who works for La Dama who seems to wear something that looks like a scarecrow with knives attached to his arms.

-Powers: None superhuman, but he is skilled in throwing knives

-Side: Bad (La Dama)

Coyote

Coyote: A humanoid coyote that works with La Dama

-Powers: Due to his physiology, Coyote has enhanced strength, claws, and fangs

-Side: Bad (La Dama)

Phobia

Phobia (Angela Hawkins III): A villain and member of the Brotherhood of Evil

-Powers: Phobia has the ability to make people hallucinate their fears

-Side: Bad (Brotherhood of Evil)

Plasmus

Plasmus(Otto von Furth): Plasmus is a villain and member of the Brotherhood of Evil.

-Powers: Plasmus is made completely out of a red, radioactive ooze that can melt/burn whatever it touches do to its radioactivity

-Side: Bad (Brotherhood of Evil)

Warp

Warp (Emil LaSalle): A villain and member of the Brotherhood of Evil

-Powers: Unknown

-Side: Bad (Brotherhood of Evil)

Khaji-Jai Debut

Khaji-Kai: An alien bonded to another Reach scarab that joins the reach during the prologue of the story after having his/her/its planet invaded/destroyed (see, well, story).

-Powers: Presumably the same as Jaime Reyes, however that’s not counting the alien’s physiology that may have some unknown powers itself.

-Side: Bad (Reach)

Lu-Kreeza

Lu-Kreeza: An alien (different from Khaji-Kai) that has bonded to a Reach Scarab before Khaji-Kai.

-Powers: Presumably the same as Jaime Reyes, however that’s not counting the alien’s physiology that may have some unknown powers itself.

-Side: Bad (Reach)

Story

The issue starts as a prologue in Space Sector 2 “LONG, LONG AGO”.  Here, it seems that an alien planet is being destroyed/invaded by another alien wearing a blue armor.  This alien yells out “Khaji-Kai” and proceeds to New 52 Blue Beetle #1 Iattack the defending aliens’ army using a variety of different forms including a blue wheel of sorts that bulldoze through some buildings, a bulky form (that kinda looks like a blue version of Iron Man’s Hulk Buster Armor) that throws some type of tank, and a slick, speedy form that has long blades on the back of its wrists that slices through some alien throat.  “12 TACTONS LATER” (whatever that means), we see the same alien looking upset at the carnage uttering the lines: “WHAT HAVE I DONE…?– –…MY FAMILY…– –…MY PEOPLE…!”.  This prompts another alien to “comfort” him by saying that he is now part of the Reach as his home is being “…COCOONED FOR THE HIVEMASTERS TO SAVOR AT THEIR CONVENIENCE.”.  The alien who lost his home can not remember his name but states that his scarab’s name is Khaji-Kai.  The second alien tells him that’s the only name he’ll need from now on, introducing himself as Lu-Kreeza.  Lu-Kreeza tells Khaji-Kai (these alien names are going to get annoying, aren’t they) that a bunch of Scarabs are arriving at different places throughout the galaxy to create more soldiers like Khaji-Kai.

This leads to the next scene as another Scarab is hurtling through space towards a planet in Space Sector-2814.  This catches the attention of a Green Lantern who zaps the scarab, damaging it, and sends it falling towards Earth where it is found by what appears to be Ancient Aztecs; ending the prologue.

On the next page, we see Jaime Reyes and some of his classmates playing soccer.  A soccer ricochets off of Jaime’s face, landing a goal to the opposing team.  Behind Jaime, we see a bunch of teens talking about Brenda del Vecchio’s quinceañera and talking about how half the school is going.  One of the teenagers mentions how Brenda’s, quote-on-quote, “…TURNING INTO A MAJOR HOTTIE,…”, which prompts another teen named Paco to tell him to knock it off and reveals that Paco and Brenda are Jaime’s best friends.  After Jaime asks Paco what he’s doing there, it turns out that he’s meeting Brenda here to get his invite as her aunt has apparently tighten security and he can’t get in without an invitation.  After Brenda gives Paco his invite, Jaime asks her why security is getting so tight in which Brenda replies that she does not know and that she’s not allowed to ask her Aunt about her money.

We then cut “3 HOURS LATER” as Jaime is arguing with his parents who won’t let him go to Brenda’s quinceañera as she does not want him anywhere near her aunt’s house.  This leads to Jaime angrily walking away and slamming the door to (what I assume is) his room off-panal.

At Brenda’s quinceañera, a person in an office is talking to someone on a phone which shows three supervillains watching over three other supervillains stealing a blue, robotic beetle in a red back full of packing peanuts for two people named “The Brain” and “Mullah” (who, for those of you who don’t know, are the leaders of the Brotherhood of Evil).  La Dama’s servants than break into the facility and fight the Brotherhood of Evil for the Blue Beetle Scarab.

Blue Beetle DebutWe then see Jaime in Paco’s car (obviously sneaked out of the house) driving to Brenda’s quinceañera when a nearby building blows up and the villains battle it out for the red bag.  The red bag flies into the back seat of Paco’s car and one of La Dama’s villains threatens to kill Paco.  Jaime then grabs the bag and plays keep away with it to get the villains away from Paco.  One of the villains, Brutale, throws knives at Jaime and tears the bag open.  We then see a blue spark as the beetle digs its legs into Jaime’s back.  A blue and black suit of armor then painfully rips through Jaime’s flesh before coming out completely and yelling out “KHAJI-DA!”, ending Part 1.

Art

I won’t say the art is spectacular or anything, but it is pretty solid.  The art work is expressive and cartoony but also seems to mix some dark Sci-Fi look into it as well.

New 52 Blue Beetle #2 T2Let’s talk about the cover.  It’s nothing really amazing but I guess it looks kinda cool.  It features Blue Beetle jumping backwards and shooting at some random thing with what I think is his plasma cannons.  The weapons on his arms, btw, aren’t ever seen in the actual issue so if your hoping to see the Blue Beetle fight in this issue, then you’re gonna be disappointing.  The only complaint I have are the eyes that appear to be yellow with no pupils.  I find this odd as it kinda makes him looked possessed, and on top of that he never has pure yellow eyes.  At the very end of the issue you see Blue Beetle with pure blue-glowing eyes, and in the next issue we see him with yellow/orange pupils and blue scleras, but never pure yellow.

Final Thoughts

Blue Beetle has always been interesting to me due to the mythos behind the Blue Beetle Scarab and the Reach.  In this issue, we see some of that at the very beginning and not a lot at the end.  I think Tony Bedard was focusing more on Jaime’s personal life, and I honestly think that worked quite well.  While we don’t see much of the Blue Beetle, we do get to see Jaime’s family, friends, and personal life which means that we can see how the Blue Beetle scarab is going to effect his life even more in future issues.  On top of the Reach, we get two groups of villains that could be potential rogues for Blue Beetle’s rogues gallery which could be seen as both a pro and a con as this means we’re getting a nice variety of villains from the get go, but the number of villains could mean that this could get confusing really quickly on whose with who and their motivations (which, other than the Reach, has yet to be revealed).

If I had to give a complaint about the issue as a whole it would be the dialogue.  I guess DC has been trying to get some more diverse characters out there and as such was really trying to get it clear that Jaime is part Mexican as there’s a lot of Spanish in this issue.  Not so much that you can’t understand it, but it’s kinda annoying when ever piece of dialogue has some Spanish mixed into its English.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

-Nice set-up for the Reach

-A good look at Jaime’s family, friends, and personal life

-Large variety of villains

Cons:

-A lot of Spanish

-Don’t get to see Blue Beetle until the very last panel

-Large variety of villains means that this could get kinda confusing

Rating

1=terrible, 2=bad, 3=ok, 4=good, 5=awesome

Characters: 4 – The main characters are introduced nicely and Jaime is a pretty relatable character, even if he kinda follows the “normal kid” archetype.  And the secondary characters are revealed and we get to know what their like from the get go.  But the villains, with the exception of the reach, don’t have clear goals other than “get the scarab” and don’t have clear motivations yet.

Story: 5 – The story really hooks you in as you want to know how Jaime’s life is going to be effected by the Blue Beetle Scarab, what the Blue Beetle Scarab is in the first place, and who these villains are.

Art: 4 – Nothing fantastic or amazing but it is pretty solid.

Overall: 4.5 – If you like Sci-Fi or really curious about the Blue Beetle, then I would suggest this comic.

See you in Part 2, Peace XD

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7 comments

  1. Sounds like a fun start to that arc. The art certainly looks fantastic and this version of Blue Beetle was fun to watch. Ted Kord is probably my favorite personality wise, but Young Justice helped me become a fan of this one.

      1. I just finished reading the complete 600 page series he got back in the 80’s. I highly recommend checking it out if you’ve ever wanted to see more of Ted Kord. It’s called DC Showcase Blue Beetle. Of course, he is very different from the current Blue Beetles because of his dependance on low tech gadgets and hand to hand. He does make a lot of good puns though!

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