Blue Beetle #18 Review
Blue Beetle #18, by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Scott Kolins, marks the end of a short, and unfortunately, unmemorable run for this book. Honestly,DC has rebooted Jaime Reyes as the Blue Beetle so many times, it’s hard to keep up with what did and didn’t happen to this incarnation of him at this point. That’s not for lack of a good character, though, because Blue Beetle has a cool concept in the idea of a powerful weapon being grafted to the spine of a teenager, and Jaime is full of potential for great stories. The book has just never quite taken off with the fans, no matter how much DC tries.
This iteration of the book, launched with Geoff Johns’ rebuilding of the DC universe, Rebirth, wisely focused on Jaime being mentored by Ted Kord, former Blue Beetle from the “Bwa-Ha-Ha” era of the Justice League. This could have been a great take on Reyes, but it got bogged down with questions about continuity, like whether or not Ted had been Blue Beetle before, or how long Jaime had been in possession of the scarab. Additionally, the idea of the scarab being magic in nature, instead of the alien artifact that it had been previously established as, added to the overall confusion. Readers just did not know where this new book was coming from, or where it stood in current continuity, so it was hobbled from the get-go.
Sebela, brought in to end the series, was not given an easy task. He was handed a young hero, early on in his career, that DC surely did not want taken off the table. Essentially, he was stuck with ending the book quickly and meaningfully, but without closing the door on Jaime or his adventures for good. In many ways, he accomplished that. Jaime brings his girlfriend in on his secret, wrapping up any major personal problems he has. He also comes into his own as a hero, while acknowledging that he still has a lot to learn from Ted, which is nice, because that mentorship is the one great thing that worked in this series. It’s clear Jaime will keep moving forward as Blue Beetle at the end of the book, as well.
The problems with the final issue come with the way Sebela executed his conclusion. This issue felt very rushed in every aspect. Jaime has a problem with his girlfriend at the beginning of the book, because she found out he was Blue Beetle, and shut down communication with him. By the end, the situation fixed itself, with her apologizing, and letting Jaime know that he needs to be honest going forward. There was also a confusing situation where Ted Kord’s obsolete artificial intelligence tries to kill Jaime and Ted. This whole sequence felt wedged in just for the sake of having a bit of action, but it made no sense whatsoever. It’s heavily implied that the attack was designed by Ted as a test of Jaime’s skills, but there also seemed to be legitimate danger of both heroes dying. Was the real danger supposed to be due to the recklessness of Ted, was the danger level intended to be that high, or did the situation just get out of hand? It’s all left incredibly vague, and the relationship between Jaime and Ted remains contentious in the end. They seem to have come to an agreement about a continuing working together, but Jaime shows Ted zero respect, and even needlessly wrecks his property upon exiting. Ted displays erratic behavior, but the negative attitude from Jaime, especially when Ted is offering him a job and help as Blue Beetle, seems out of character and just plain rude.
The art from Kolins on this issue is adequate, but far from his best work, such as his classic run on The Flash. The storytelling, however, is miles better than his work on the previous issue, which was nearly impossible to follow in some places. The colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr., on the other hand, were great. His style meshes well with Kolins’ art, and even enhances it in many ways. Hopefully, they will continue working together in the future.
Overall, this issue served its purpose of wrapping up Jaime’s story, while still hinting at more adventures to come, but it was too rushed, and came across as sloppy. The next time DC tackles Blue Beetle, they need take more time to clearly define his position in their universe, where he is coming from, and where they want him to go. Instead of launching another solo series, putting him on a team, such as the Teen Titans or the Justice League, might serve the character better while allowing him to build a bigger fan base. If he proves popular enough in that situation, then they could revisit the idea of giving him another solo book or possibly expanding his role in the DC universe.