New 52 Review: Blue Beetle #1

If you remember the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle from before the DC reboot, then you may recall that his origin occurred during Infinite Crisis and it involved a slightly convoluted story that had the scarab of the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett bonding itself to Jaime after it crashed to Earth during the destruction of the Rock of Eternity.

In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised when writer Tony Bedard completely threw out Jaime's history for this reboot. Gone are all references to Garrett or Ted Kord, the previous Blue Beetles. And in place of the first origin is a more streamlined tale that features almost all of the major elements of the Jamie Reyes Blue Beetle series by Mark Waid, John Rogers and Cully Hamner in a mere twenty pages. Out of all of the reboot titles, this issue felt like it got the most out of the space that it had.

It shouldn't be this rare among the New 52, but Bedard's sense of pacing within the issue is also admirable. He spends just the right amount of time telling us what the scarab is, reintroducing Jaime (and his supporting cast) along with Jaime's first encounter with the scarab before his ultimate transformation into the Blue Beetle. Jaime barely spends any time as his new alter ego, but that's the effective hook at the end of the issue.

The downside of completely tossing out Jaime's continuity is that he no longer has direct ties to any of the other DC heroes. But Bedard does reestablish the alien Reach as a credible threat and he uses their ongoing feud with the Green Lanterns as a way to get the scarab to Earth in the first place. Bedard also gives Jaime and his supporting cast the same appealing personalities that they had prior to the reboot. Everyone was so fully formed that it caught me off guard when it turned out that Jaime hadn't been Blue Beetle the entire time. Especially when he jumps to the defense of his friend against a supervillain even before he gets any of his powers.

The art by Ig Guara is also a revelation, with very crisp and clean lines to go along with some impressively laid out action sequences. Unlike some artists in the reboot, Guara actually makes his human characters seem distinct from each other, with some nice work on their facial expressions as well. Pete Pantazis' colors also deserve to be mentioned, especially during the opening scene on another world. Guara seems equally at ease with the cosmic sequences and the more mundane setting at Jaime's high school.

The aforementioned transformation sequence is also one of Guara's stand out scenes within the book. He took what could have been a cheesy moment and he gave it a horrific touch as Jaime's body twists and contorts while his new armor appears. It looked very painful too…

However, the book does have a few flaws. The two competing teams of supervillains aren't very well defined except that they're rivals and that both teams are trying to get the scarab for themselves. It feels like the issue would have been fine with just one team of supervillains to focus on. By the end, there are so many bad guys running around that none of them make a real impression.

That said, this was one of the more entertaining issues of the new 52 and one of the few that will remain on my reading list next month.

Crave Online Rating: 8/10