Or – “Relaunching A Character From The Long-Ago Year 2006…”

When DC first announced that they were going to relaunch all their titles with a new #1, I worried that all the same characters were going to come back.  Thankfully, the lineup is a bit more diverse (in more ways that one) than the post-Brightest Day offerings, and more importantly, characters like Blue Beetle would get another shot in the limelight.  But will it take this time?

BLUE BEETLE #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Ig Guara
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Blue Beetle:  Jaime Reyes somehow bonded with an alien scarab, and gained superhuman powers, but the fun and games ended quickly when the scarab was revealed to be a tool of alien invaders known as The Reach.  Eventually, Jaime teamed up with Booster Gold and other surviving members of Justice League International to stop the machinations of Maxwell Lord, just in time for Barry Allen to reset the universe…  Now, Jaime is just a regular guy, there is no Blue Beetle (and may never have been one) and the Reach has never made their way to Earth.

Yet.

RODRIGO’S WORDS HAUNT ME…

The issue opens in deep space, as a pretty much indistinguishable race of fleshy-headed mutant aliens finds themselves under attack.  A very familiar black-and-blue costumed figure cuts a swath of destruction across the planet, and quickly subjugates and/or destroys all of the populace.  We see the young creature lamenting that he just destroyed his own homeworld (an unnerving, if somewhat ham-fisted scene) before we meet The Reach.  Seems like the origin of the scarab is intact in this new reality, and as for Jaime Reyes?  He’s MOSTLY the same as well.  His friend Paco is still a ne’er-do-well (and now a dropout), his friend Brenda is still a teenage cutie who may or may not be the object of Jaime’s affections (and Paco’s, for that matter) and his family feels similar (though his father seems to have lost a lot of weight) as well.  Much of the dialogue come in a mix of English and Spanish (one footnote even says that it is “translated from the Spanglish”), though, and I have some issues with that terminology.  I wonder how a more experienced Spanish speaker would feel about the almost gratuitous use of words and phrases in some rather awkward (to my ear) ways.

AND SOME OF THIS SEEMS ODDLY FAMILIAR.

Brenda’s aunt still seems to have her mysterious ties to superhuman crime, and we quickly find that she is seeking an artifact of great power, sending her own personal villains against the forces of the Brotherhood of Evil (Plasmus, Warp and Phobia, all of whom refer to the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, making me happy to see that some well-designed villains are back from the unnecessary dead).  More dialogue related uncomfortableness follows (Warp is French, Plasmus German, and the local villains continue the use of high school Spanish as punctuation) but overall, the story flows pretty well.  Jaime and Paco fall into the midst of the battle (on their way to Brenda’s birthday) and the scarab ends up in Jaime’s possession just in time for the villains to try and kill him.  He falls, and the scarab ends up embedded in his spine (!!).  The issue began with the alien scarab-wielder being overtaken and crying out “Khaji Kai!,” and it ends with Jaime in the same position, screaming “Khaji Da!”  It’s a nice callback, and a bit of foreshadowing that works pretty well.

THE VERDICT:  NOT EXACTLY WHAT I EXPECTED…

As with Justice League International a couple of weeks ago, this issue’s dialogue and story felt remarkably like it was aimed at a lower reading audience, and the language was problematic throughout.  Part of me wants to say that the “Spanglish” (a term that I’m kind of uncomfortable with, honestly) dialogue was trying TOO hard for diversity (see also Stephen’s feelings of Mister Terrific) but the central piece of the current Blue Beetle, a normal kid with an alien in his spine, is clearly definined in the last pages.  Of course, this book is the first to revamp a truly modern character (or, more properly, character concept) and so the fact that we just saw Jaime’s origin five or so years ago is fresh in my mind.  Overall, Blue Beetle #1 has a few missteps, and I would have liked a little more Jaime Reyes while the book introduced it’s supporting cast, but it’s a likeable little book, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I only wish there had been a little bit more going on, and perhaps a more consistency in the transitional language.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Is it just me, or does the “translated from the Spanish” joke seem a bit demeaning to the main character and his family?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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19 Comments

  1. Jimmy
    September 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm — Reply

    I liked this issue overall, but the editor’s note box of “Translated from the Spanglish” did bug me–partially because it seemed slightly derisive and mocking in its tone, and partially because it WASN’T TRANSLATED. There was still a large amount of Spanish in the dialogue, and while I could understand most of it through context, there were still some terms that I wasn’t familiar with. If you’re trying to market a comic to me, then I need to be able to read the comic.

    Also I don’t think there was anything that really implied the non-existence of our previous Blue Beetles; it mentioned that the scarab had changed hands over the years (and it was now found in South/Central America rather than Egypt), but Dan Garrett and Ted Kord could’ve easily still had possession of it.

    And we have had confirmation of Kord Industries existing.

  2. TaZ
    September 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm — Reply

    As much as I enjoyed the Ted Kord Beetle I’m hoping that he remains with Don Hall in the “still dead” category.

  3. Ian
    September 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm — Reply

    I always thought the current BB’s character design would look best drawn in a Kirby style, maybe like Giffen is doing in OMAC

  4. Rome
    September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm — Reply

    I don’t think Spanglish is offensive.

    A mix of Spanish interspersed with English words and adjectives is the primary means of communication in my household. I think the fact that they make a joke about translating it is the slightly off-kilter part. But a hybridized spanish/english mash-up is the reality in many American homes today.

    • September 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm — Reply

      But a hybridized spanish/english mash-up is the reality in many American homes today.

      And that’s why the line fell flat for me, it seemed to be an arch, mocking remark, rather than celebrating Jaime’s awesome family, which I think was the intent.

  5. Kirby
    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm — Reply

    I overall enjoyed this issue, I’m enough of a BB fan to stick on, but part of me went ‘really?’ the Spanglish joke, and while them making Paco a dropout and such I can see some of it feels unnecessarily dark. My biggest hope is that they don’t make Jaime constantly fighting with his parents, and this is just sort of a rare thing (not wanting son to go to a gangter’s home does make total sense), I’m hoping for a similar relationship to the old series.

    As for writing down to the audience I don’t know, but sometimes the dialogue felt… off-tempo?

    • September 22, 2011 at 12:42 am — Reply

      As for writing down to the audience I don’t know, but sometimes the dialogue felt… off-tempo?

      That’s definitely a factor for me. The entire issue was okay, but felt like the beginnings of an edgy 90’s revamp. I don’t know… It may have been just first issue jitters. We shall see.

  6. Luis Stansberry
    September 22, 2011 at 12:11 am — Reply

    This book was amazing…..and since im from el paso i knew that from the high school he goes to and the way he, paco and brenda speak is how local hispanic teenagers talk and i can relate to that so im sticking with this book for sure(:

  7. Dennis
    September 22, 2011 at 3:52 am — Reply

    I want Ted Kord back as Blue Beetle!

    • September 23, 2011 at 9:03 am — Reply

      Ditto. Ted was fun, something this felt lacking for me. Starting with a genocide to make things “serious” annoyed me, and then the even more annoying “translated from the spanglish”, ugh.

      This book is a huge pass for me. :P

  8. Tony Bedard
    September 22, 2011 at 6:25 am — Reply

    Thanks for the review guys!

    For what it’s worth, I’m Puerto Rican and Spanish was my first language. Nobody would guess it, since I’m lilly-White and my last name is French, but I didn’t live in the States until I was 10. My mom founded the Georgia chapter of the League of United Latin-American Citizens, and my brother is the present State Director. My sister-in-law is Mexican, so I also have a decent appreciation of the differences between Mexican Spanish and Puerto Rican Spanish. And my editor is Guatemalan, so his ear for the language is also there to rely on. None of which changes the fact that some of the dialogue sounded off to you, and I respect your opinion. I just want you to know I come by my Spanish honestly, not from a high-school Spanish class.

    We spoke a lot of “Spanglish” in my house as I grew up. That’s actually what we called it. It’s a common term. Nothing demeaning meant by it, though I always did find the term amusing. “Translated from the Spanglish” was actually my favorite line of dialogue in the issue.

    Luis, thank you for piping in with your comment. My biggest concern was actually that the Spanish wouldn’t sound Mexican enough! Anyhow, there’s less Spanish in the next couple issues, so we’ll see if they work a little better for y’all.

    Tony B

    • September 22, 2011 at 8:18 am — Reply

      Hi Tony

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    • September 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm — Reply

      We spoke a lot of “Spanglish” in my house as I grew up. That’s actually what we called it. It’s a common term. Nothing demeaning meant by it, though I always did find the term amusing. “Translated from the Spanglish” was actually my favorite line of dialogue in the issue.

      Glad to hear that it was only my read that brought that connotation in. And thanks for the feedback, Tony. It’s always cool to hear from the creators of the books we love. :)

  9. K. Kortekaas
    September 22, 2011 at 7:11 am — Reply

    Having read the previous Blue Beetle run I’ve gotta say I enjoyed this issue, while not a “fresh” take of Jamie’s origin it does provide a nice “in” for a reader who wasn’t into comics back in 2006.

    • September 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm — Reply

      Having read the previous Blue Beetle run I’ve gotta say I enjoyed this issue, while not a “fresh” take of Jamie’s origin it does provide a nice “in” for a reader who wasn’t into comics back in 2006.

      And there you have it… As the resident “old dude”, sometimes I forget that every book is someone’s first… :)

  10. September 24, 2011 at 10:47 am — Reply

    I’m just sad that all those beautiful moments with the Reyes family have been retconned away. Funny. Never experienced actual sadness at the phenomena I’ve heard many of you guys have talked about before–being sad that fictitious stories aren’t considered “real” fictitious stories anymore–but here we are. No more Bianca Reyes fighting super-villains with an MRI. No more ‘Berto Reyes consoling Jaime with a discussion about combat valor and death after Typhoon killed innocent civilians in a fight with Jaime.

    This isn’t to say I didn’t like this book or that I’m not down with the New 52. The book was well-written and I’m very hopeful for a good run. Also know that comic books need to change or die, and that’s what the New 52 is all about.

    I guess I’m just sad for moments lost, and the potential those moments had for future stories told.

    • Damascus
      October 3, 2011 at 3:29 am — Reply

      He just got the Beetle, in the previous run did all those things happen before he became the Blue Beetle? There’s still time for certain aspects to be redone, but also if you go with the MSP general belief in “Personal Continuity” then you’ll be fine. Those stories happened for you and nothing can change that. Plus if the Hooded Lady was in Flashpoint and now in the New 52, just consider it like Old Spock being in the new Reboot Star Trek movie, it’s proof that the past version really happened.

      • Damascus
        October 3, 2011 at 3:33 am — Reply

        Page 18 on the Hooded Lady. lol

  11. brenton8090
    October 3, 2011 at 11:34 am — Reply

    I really liked this issue. The Spanish was a bit much, but the art was SICK. Especially the opening scene, with all the different Beetle transformations? The action was so smooth, and well portrayed, that it flowed very cinematically, and almost made my jaw drop. Definitely keeping my eye on this book.

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