This issue proves why you should be reading Blue Beetle. I think too many readers dismissed Jamie Reyes when he first appeared as just another Ted Kord wanna-be, but issue #23 proves he has what it takes to be a hero.
I will admit, I dropped Blue Beetle after issue #6 because I didn’t feel like there was any direction in the series. Then I picked it back up again with issue #10 and haven’t looked back. This issue follows the adventures under the sea, where it is discovered the Reach is slowly mining the planet from the inside out, and doping the water to make the Earth’s (New Earth) population not see what they are doing. Jamie, finally fed up with all the Reach activities, decides to take the fight to the mothership, without the aid of other supers.
Why not enlist Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, or the rest of the JLA? For one, he doesn’t think they will believe him, since the Reach has always come across as a supportive alien race. The other reason is he quickly discovers the Reach are a bit anal about their time tables and the best way to mess with the OCDs is to mess with their schedule. Jamie can only do this by acting alone.
With the knowledge he has gained from his Scarab, and the writings of Ted Kord on the Bleed and Time Travel, Jamie enters the Bleed, and launches three simultaneous attacks on World Rippers around the globe. Using his own operatives, Jamie is able to triangulate the position of the hidden Reach mothership and take the attack to them.
I love the hive mind of the Reach. At one point they all think alike and work for the good of the Reach, and yet at the same time we begin to see dissension in the ranks. Even with the chaos all around, the Reach leader (I’ll call him Senor Poopy-Pants) has a plan up his sleeve to power down Jamie’s armor – he blows up his parent house – with friends and family inside.
One of the best things about Jamie as the Blue Beetle is there are a lot of people that know his secret identity. From friends as school, to potential girlfriend Traci 13, to his entire family, the family unit is an important part to the overall story. The best scenes in this issue were not when Blue Beetle and the Scarab were of one mind blowing the crap out of the Reach, but rather the moments when Jamie is trying to justify his actions to his parents going so far as to use a line his father told him years previous. The tear-jerker is when his little sister tells him he has to go because that is his job – the job of a superhero; saving people’s lives and doing good.
Jamie’s emotional feedback is too much for the Scarab and the unit shuts down, just as it looks like the Blue Beetle was going to win. Even worse, now that the Scarab is powered down, Senor Poopy-Pants rips the Scarab from Jamie’s spine!
In order to understand the importance of this issue in the overall adventures of the latest Blue Beetle, one really needs to go back and read everything that he has appeared in. This includes his involvement in Infinite Crisis, Teen Titan appearances, Booster Gold, and more. All the pay-offs and references rely on the reader knowing the back story. I would equate the Blue Beetle series with the likes of the Buffy the Vampire television series. As the series evolved, characters and plot-lines from previous seasons were referenced making the continuity of series a tight one. I think we are seeing the same thing happening with Blue Beetle, and John Rogers deserves all the credit for making this happen.
- Reach conversations
- Three Beetles sticking it to the man
- Family time
- Not enough pages
- Can’t wait until next issue
Blue Beetle hasn’t been at the top of my read pile for some time, always winding up somewhere in the lower third of the stack. However, the last couple issues have really piqued my interest, and I think next month Blue Beetle will wind up right behind Countdown as a title to watch.
I’m giving Blue Beetle #23 5 out of 5 Stars!