Hello interweb, Nate here. So while I’m revisiting episodes of Justice League to get ready for Friday’s list, I thought I would take today to review a title that I’ve been wanting to read and review for a while: Blue Beetle Volume 8. I’ve already reviewed the first 3 issues of the New 52 Blue Beetle (reviews of issues 1, 2, and 3) so I decided to check out Jaime Reyes’s first comic book run. The only problem is I got the entire run from my library as trades (the list of trades for this run is below) and I actually couldn’t get my hands on the one called Blue Beetle: Black and Blue. Usually I would be find with this, but since I’m reviewing the series I kinda feels like this would make the review incomplete. So just keep that in mind. Also since I’m reviewing the entire run I’m not going to do my usual format and instead I’ll just talk about the book similarly to how I did my FCBD reviews. Writer: Keith Giffen and John Rogers
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colourist: David Self
Trades in this Title
#1-6: Blue Beetle: Shellshocked
#7-12: Blue Beetle: Road Trip
#13-19: Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars
#20-26: Blue Beetle: End Game
#27-28+Booster Gold #21-24 crossover: Blue Beetle: Black and Blue
Blue Beetle Vol 8 Review
I’ve discussed the brief history of the Blue Beetle in previous reviews (links above) so I’m, not going into all that today. All you really need to know is that this was the very first run on the Blue Beetle with Jaime Reyes taking the mantle. Before this was Ted Korde and before Ted Korde was Dan Garret.
The first trade is titled Blue Beetle: Shellshocked and begins the title pretty decently. It’s kind of boring and if you’re just reading this title for fun than I would suggest skipping it as it’s the second and third trades that where it gets really exciting. Shellshocked shows us that one year prior to the comics, Jaime discovered the Blue Beetle Scarab and it sent Jaime through this weird dimension thing so he thought he went missing from his folks for a night, but his parents reveal to him that it’s been an entire year since he went missing. He then reveals to his parents that he went missing because of the Scarab and even activates the armor in front of his parents to prove to them what happened. This is actually really interesting that he did this considering how much superheroes are generally cautious with revealing their identities; but this is actually kind of a running trend as while his identity is officially a secret, all of his friends and family seems to know he’s the blue beetle; even some villains know. The rest of the first trade is basically just showing us the supporting cast (and there’s actually quite a few of them that I’ll get to in a little bit) as well as some possible future villains but doesn’t really do much other than just giving exposition and introductions.
The second trade is called Blue Beetle: Road Trip which makes sense as this is the trade where he officially becomes a superhero and actually begins to learn about what the Scarab is. It also reveals what happened prior to Jaime’s year-long disappearance. Apparently, soon after the Scarab bonded to his spine, he got swept up with the Justice League on one of their missions but the Scarab started to send him to another dimension once John Stewart/Green Lantern got to close (Scarabs and Green Lanterns don’t mix). Because the Justice League left him, Jaime felt rather betrayed by this. In issue 8, we meet Dan Garret’s granddaughter, Danielle Garret, and she goes over the history of the Blue Beetle legacy. I really like that they did this as it’s showing appreciation for the previous Blue Beetles and it’s not just the writers ignoring the Blue Beetle legacy to shove in Jaime as the one true Blue Beetle (which happens quite a bit with legacy characters). There’s a few fights in these issues but they’re pretty much just shoehorned in because we haven’t had good action in a while so I’m not going to go over those. The second half of Road Trip has Jaime saving Brenda from this magical place caused by La Dama but he only purpose was to make the others get suspicious of her. This trade ends with them finally meeting the Reach but it doesn’t do much with that as it saves it for the third trade.
Which brings us to Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars. Reach for the Star‘s main goal is to tell us that the Reach is evil and is trying to invade Earth but they tricked the government into thinking they are simply friendly aliens that are here to make peaceful contact. This trade was actually quite fun as it featured a lot of appearances from other DC characters. Some characters that appear includes Guy Garder/Green Lantern, who quickly becomes friends with Jaime; Superman, although he doesn’t really do much other than help Jaime with Livewire; and the Teen Titans.
The last trade is by far the best. Blue Beetle: End Games is a perfect conclusion with every loose end tied up. I really don’t even know how to talk about it without spoilers being told. Up to now I’ve been simply summarizing and leaving out possible spoilers, but you just need to read this story for yourself. I honestly can’t recommend it enough.
The characters are all really cool, fun, and interesting. Jaime seems to struggle a little bit in the first two trades, but by the time End Games completes you get a strong sense that he’s became a brave hero. He learned a lot on his journey and is still learning. On top of that, the Scarab is a really interesting character and the mythos behind it is really interesting. It does something in the last trade that really shows that Jaime’s not the only hero of the story.
The supporting cast is also really fun. His best friends are Paco and Brenda, but he also has his family, a gang that he’s friends with called the Posse, he has these two tech guys that tells him when a villain attacks and how to defeat them (think Batman’s Oracle), as well as his magical girlfriend Traci 13. All of these characters are interesting and fleshed out within the four trades.
The villains are all pretty fun. Blue Beetle’s main villain is the Reach. The Reach is a force to be reckon with and their plan was smart and creative. He also has some minor villains like La Dama (who is Brenda’s aunt) and several others that he fights throughout the run.
The art for this series is pretty decent. I kinda prefer the New 52 version, but the art for these comics do have a charm to itself and it is nice to look at. I just prefer the New 52 Blue Beetle’s more detailed art than this version.
If I would to compare this to the New 52 version, it’s gonna sound kinda weird. The thing is, I’ve bashed on the New 52 for changing too many characters too much, especially when it ruins the core of the character, but I don’t hate the New 52 version of the Blue Beetle. Now that I’ve read both versions, I do like this version a whole lot more as it was more creative and fun, but the New 5t2 also had some enjoyable aspects (even if they did technically “ruin” the core of the character).
With all this said and done, I give this title a 5/5. It has a great story, great characters, a great bad guy, and great supporting cast.
I’m just curious, which style of reviewing do you guys like more? The formatted review that I usually do, or this more descriptive version?