I remain surprised that very few, if anyone, used this book to challenge my "The Marvel Monsoon vs. the DC Drought" argument. Maybe it's because this book has a rather inconsistent quality, or maybe it's because the fact that this book remains pretty fun regardless of that inconsistent quality kind of helps prove my point. Who knows?
Plus, it doesn't disprove my point. Again, drop in the bucket and all that, which the comment mob ignored.
I reviewed the last issue of this book for Bleeding Cool and was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out to be. The first two issues of this title were wildly underwhelming and even outright frustrating at times. That was a shame, because this book heralded the long-awaited return of Ted Kord and brought back the ever-endearing Jamie Reyes to the scene. However, I wrote it off the same as the most recent Nova title, which brought back the long-missed Richard Rider, as another squandered opportunity for greatness.
However, where Marvel viciously and preemptively killed Nova, DC has actually given Blue Beetle time to stretch its wings and get a feel for itself. As a result, this book has actually had time to win me back. This is why you don't axe books at the first sign of weakness, Marvel.
This issue begins to wind down the Arion, Lord of Atlantis, conflict for the Blue Beetle team. Jamie Reyes confronts Arion himself, while Ted Kord and Omac fight against the armies of beast men. Things look shaky as Jamie is attacked by Mordecai, a servant of Arion. Ted begins to suffer cardiac arrest, and Omac is blinded by the beasts.
Arion makes his way into El Paso with the intent of destroying the world. He is met by Doctor Fate himself, as well as Teri, who turns out to be the Flash from Justice League 3000.
Arion starts trying to use Jamie's connection to the Scarab to bolster his own cosmic magic, when Jamie finally regains control of it, and the fight begins anew. But who is in control — the Scarab or Jamie?
This is a bloated and unwieldy mess of plot threats, but Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis kind of make it work for them. It's ridiculous. It's apocalyptic. But it's kind of fun.
They balance the characters well. Arion is kind of a stereotypical, "People suck, so I will destroy the world!" type of bad guy. Mordecai is barely a character. But Jamie is endearing, Ted is snarky, Omac is just plain cool, Teri is likeable, and Doctor Fate is freaking Doctor Fate. None of them are particularly deep characters in this book, but they are enjoyable nonetheless.
(Spoiler) The Scarab has taken over Jamie, and that seems like it will be the last arc of this plot. They are going to have to figure out if Jamie can keep being Blue Beetle with the Scarab, or if he'll have to try something else. I'm getting the impression that Ted Kord won't be doing much more field work because of the heart problems.
One thing that seems kind of underhanded about this book is the underlying idea that, since they are all B-list heroes, they are naturally going to kind of suck at saving the world. It's particularly highlighted when Ted starts talking about what a terrible superhero he is. I think that is an unnecessary middle finger to the fans of Ted Kord's Blue Beetle.
Books like Astonishing Ant-Man and Hawkeye attributed the personal failings of their heroes to their flaws, whether it be a bit of ego, recklessness, or lack of foresight. They didn't chalk it up to "because they're B-list characters," (even if that's barely true for Hawkeye and Ant-Man these days). This book seems to be rolling with that as the cause, and I'm not a big fan of the approach.
Maybe it will pull it out with some lesson about how bad Ted and Jamie are bad as partners, and they will have to fix that. I can see the Scarab taking over Jamie as an opportunity for Ted to try to actually connect with Jamie. That would be a good way to stick the landing on this story as opposed to just chalking it up to Jamie and Ted being generally inadequate.
The book doesn't touch on the idea of general inadequacy in extreme excess, though, so it manages to keep its charm for the most part.
Scott Kollins is a good artist for this book. The hard lines and general rough-around-the-edges aesthetic seem like a perfect fit. The two Blue Beetle costumes look really cool, Omac and Fate are awesome, the beasts look nice, and I like the design for this version of Arion. Romulo Fajardo Jr.'s colors really help, as he strikes a great balance between the bright colors and the grit and dirt of battle damage.
Even with its flaws, Blue Beetle #10 was still a fun read, and I'd recommend it to just about anyone. It has loads of underused characters and a generally fun, if bloated, adventure for them.
As an addendum, because I like rubbing salt in the wound, and because I can't let things go, this book did have me thinking about another common counter argument to my "Marvel Monsoon vs. DC Drought" articles.
People keep saying that DC didn't know who they were when they launched the New 52, but now they have their identity with Rebirth.
First off, this is a sprawling corporation that is almost 100 years old. These people know who and what they are. Secondly, why do they have to be one thing? Sure, that makes sense for the smaller publishers, but this is DC Comics, which has thousands of characters at its disposal. DC doesn't need to be just one thing. It hasn't been just one thing in a long, long time, and it's not even one thing right now. Green Arrow is different from Batman, which is different from Superman, which is different from The Flash, which is really different from Blue Beetle. They can expand their identities with more books, and that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
And one more time: what is the problem with having options? Why do people hate the idea of more solo and team books with other characters from the massive catalogue of the company you so vehemently and blindly defend? Shouldn't you like that idea? I would, and I'm DC fan. Well, I'm a fan of DC's comics, cartoons, and some of their movies. It's silly to be a fan of a mega company. That's like being fan of Halliburton or BP. That would be just weird.
Also, I'm not a Marvel fanboy. Just because I think they did one thing right doesn't mean that I'm going to blindly defend them like many do for DC. I think a lot of their business-oriented decision making is cynical, wrongheaded, and often kinda shit.
Anyway, get Blue Beetle #10. I'm going to have a nap and dream of the Justice Society coming back and Martian Manhunter being on the Justice League.