Current Reviews


Blue Beetle #1

Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2006
By: Michael Aronson

Writers: Keith Giffen, John Rogers
Artist: Cully Hamner

Publisher: DC Comics

ďFrom the pages of Infinite Crisis.Ē Come on, do we really need that smacked across the cover? Those whoíve been reading IC clearly know itís served as the origin for the new Blue Beetle, and those who havenít been reading IC probably donít care either way. Itís just clutter on what could have been a very slick cover.

Minor griping aside, this issue was quite a pleasant surprise. I was very reluctant to pick this up, based on Giffenís recent track record with Howling Commandos and Annihilation, and with no real love for Hamnerís style. But not only do the writing and art mesh very well, but the script is much tighter than I would have thought. Giffen has said in interviews that this series would explore the all-too vague and generic concept of defining what a hero is, but this first issue gives me a clear idea of what he implies and leads me to believe he might in fact pull it off.

Itís uncertain exactly when this story is taking place. Part of it clearly overlaps Jaimeís debut in IC as his origin is shown in detail, but part of it also occurs after events weíve yet to see in IC. Is this One Year Later? While it would be nice to know, I donít think it necessarily makes a difference yet. We do learn something of a spoiler of an as-yet unrevealed plot point from IC, but thankfully another mystery replaces it: why do Guy Gardner and the other heroes distrust Jaime?

Thereís been a slight surge of teen-centric books lately, though mostly by other companies, and I have to say Iíve come to loath just about every effort. Those writers seem more concerned with writing how they think teens talk and the kewl catch phrases and terms they think teens say. What particularly works for me about Blue Beetle is how Jaime and his friends donít speak clichťd teen talk, they just speak like normal young people. Jaimeís conversations with his family sound like normal family conversations, not overwrought exposition or forced and stilted drama. Believe me, I was ready and raring to cringe, but the script spared me from any pain.

Well, thatís not entirely true. For some reason, none of Guy Gardnerís dialogue worked for me. Isnít Guy supposed to be one of Giffenís pet projects? Shouldnít his lines be the easiest and quirkiest to write? Itís quite ironic that the new character has a better-defined personality and dialogue than the old favorite.

This issue was really perfectly paced. It has tension and a mystery in the present. It has a flashback to the origin and the slow exploration of his powers. It has an interesting and fun supporting cast. Action, light humor, curious subplots: this is what superhero comics are about. Despite some awkwardness here and there, a promising start.

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