Blue Beetle #17 Review
Blue Beetle #17 is the final issue of the Road To Nowhere arc, and it really feels like a quick wrap up to this story. The issue starts in the middle of a battle between Blue Beetle and Addison Lao, aka Stop Watch. Lao can warp time and bring all manner of weapons back from the future, and he is bringing his full might down on Jaime and his friends.
For most of the issue, Blue Beetle barely holds his own against Stop Watch, while trying to remember the lessons Ted Kord taught him over the summer. This is a nice callback to his time with Ted, and it’s cool to see him put some of his new knowledge to use in the field, but it never quite comes together. Instead, it just seems like a lot of Jaime screaming, and trying not to die without recalling any particular lesson that Ted taught him. With Jaime being mentored by his predecessor being such a big part of the premise of this book when it relaunched, it would have been nice to see that pay off a little more now that it is soon to be canceled again.
Jaime’s friends, Paco, Brenda, and Naomi, are also under attack for much of this issue, but nothing much really comes of that situation, either. As they dodge spaceships and debris, the whole sequence just comes off as busy work for the characters. Even the writer, Christopher Sebela doesn’t seem all that invested in it. Particularly, in the scene where the trio are sucked up toward one of Lao’s spaceships with a tractor beam. As they are pulled up, they decide on a plan of taking pipes from nearby wreckage to beat on the UFO once they get close enough. Despite this being an absolutely ludicrous plan, and the entire scene making zero sense, it somehow works out for them.
Again, nonsensical writing comes into play, when Beetle turns the tide of battle after noticing that Lao is talking to himself. He uses his armor to sheer Stop Watch into two different versions himself. No real explanation is given on how the scarab is able to do this, and it is one of the more confusing moments of the issue.
Later, Sebela does provide a cool moment, when Jaime rips the machine parts out of Lao, causing much of his destruction to rewind and undo itself. Beetle’s friends are saved just in the nick of time from a building falling on them, as it flies backwards and away from them. The battle definitely could have used more of this kind of action throughout the issue. If the villain has time powers, there is plenty of opportunity to have some fun with that. Unfortunately, the audience is mostly only treated to a buffet of random future weapons, and confusing dialogue from Lao’s conflicting timelines.
In the end, this book was kind of a mess. The plotting and dialogue were sloppy, and the whole issue felt rushed. It would be easy to place these problems squarely on the shoulders of Christopher Sebela, the writer, but it was also really hard to decipher what was supposed to be going on in the art for a good bit of the issue. Scott Kolins has turned in some great work in the past, especially on The Flash, but his storytelling was really hard to follow in this issue. Maybe he was under some kind of time crunch, because he is usually much better. It’s also possible that Sebela and Kolins just don’t mesh well together. Either way, Blue Beetle #17 really suffered for it.