REVIEW: Blue Beetle #9

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Or – “Intergalactic!  Planetary!  Planetary, Intergalactic!”

I’m fascinated by how DC has handled their relaunched properties.  Now that the heroes have half a year’s issues or so under their belt, we’re starting to see crossovers occurring between titles that actually MAKE SENSE crossing over.  But, the question becomes, are the stories they’re telling advancing our characters, or just cross-pollinating the new world order?

BLUE BEETLE #9
Writer: Tony Bedara
Artist: Marcio Takara
Cover Artist: Paul Renaud
Colorist: Pet Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Harvey Richards
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Blue Beetle:  The story of Jaime Reyes, the latest Blue Beetle, is roughly the same as it was before the New 52 relaunch, save for a lack of Batman Gambits and a little bit less of the Justice League skulking around.  Jaime has been learning how his alien battlesuit works, trying to minimize the property damage, but has become high-profile enough to attract the attention of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and his “New Guardians,” who have a few pointed questions for the new B.B.

PANIC IN THE SKY!

The issue opens with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Red Lantern Bleez and the Orange Lantern who looks like a Sonic Drive-In tater tot toy confronting Beetle in the skies over New York.  Their conflict is quickly escalated, as Jaime’s armor immediately identifies Kyle as “an enemy of the Reach” and pro-actively attacks the Lanterns.  Having not read ‘New Guardians’ lately, I’m a little unsure of Kyle’s status quo, but things get heated and embarrassing quickly, as unknown assassins try to kill the Green Lantern.  Blue Beetle makes the save, keeping Kyle from becoming street pizza, only to end up pinned down by Bleez, who grabs his wrists and snarls that no one can save the Blue Beetle from her.  “Registering metabolic arousal,” replies Jaime’s armor, and I have to say I giggled at that moment.  (Bleez, for those who don’t know, looks like a blue supermodel with skeletal wings wearing a leather garterbelt.)  The question of how Jaime ended up in New York is answered very skillfully, as we cut away to his worried mother and father, getting news from a police officer that their runaway son has been found in the city.

COMPLICATIONS QUICKLY ENSUE…

The would-be Lantern assassin turns out to be a tentacled monster seeking the bounty on Kyle Rayner’s head (something that I’m not familiar with, but I presume has to do with his actions in the New 52), and it gets more complicated as we find that Kyle’s ring has been drained of power.  Blue Beetle (who was drawn to Kyle Rayner’s home by the power battery hidden within) pulls out the save, and we get a short moment of quiet as Jaime tries to confide in Green Lantern the difficulties of his new role.  Sadly, Kyle shuts him down (in a very interesting bit of character work) and an analysis of the Blue Beetle armor reveals that the Reach are attacking Odym, the homeworld of the Blue Lanterns.  Kyle and Bleez rush off to different places in space, leaving poor Jaime to hover confused above the city, with no idea what’s going on.  The last panel is very well-drawn, I might add, clearly conveying the lack of control and sense of confusion that Blue Beetle must be feeling as the space-faring heroes leave him in the dust…

THE VERDICT: NOT BAD, BUT A BIT SCATTERED.

All in all, the issue sets up a few things that will be important (the connection between The Reach and the GLC, the reveal to Jaime of what the Reach is, and the establishment of a relationship between Kyle and Jaime) but much of it is information that I, as a reader of the LAST B.B. series kind of took for granted.  The information about The Reach is played a little bit mysteriously, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot that has changed about the alien conquerors in the new reality, leaving that reveal a little flat.  Additionally, the issue seemed designed to deepen Jaime’s disorientation in the world of superheroes, but it also left me a bit confused, especially as I haven’t been reading the book we’re crossing over with, New Guardians.  Kyle Rayner is pretty much the hero of this issue, and although it’s Blue Beetle who fixes his ring-problems, he ends up being a supporting character in his own title.  Still, Blue Beetle #9 isn’t a bad book, just one that doesn’t quite get it’s act together, feeling like a middle chapter and earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  The art is okay throughout, and Jamie’s embarrassed blurting that he’s “not aroused, it’s just the armor” were cute, but there’s not quite enough “meat” to the proceedings to get the book much higher than an average grade.

Rating: ★★½☆☆