The Secret of Blue Beetle's Vitamin 2X, Up for Auction

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1940 was the Blue Beetle's year.  After launching in June 1939 in Mystery Men Comics #1, Dan Garrett, the Golden Age Blue Beetle would get a newspaper strip starting in January 1940, and his own series which hit newsstands around the same time. A Blue Beetle radio show started in May 1940. Like a lot of superheroes, especially in the Golden Age, Blue Beetle's origin evolved over time, and the character's backstory was fleshed out considerably during the course of the new series.  While much of the focus for collectors has remained on the character's early Mystery Men appearances, the Blue Beetle title itself contains important material by a range of well-regarded creators.  An overlooked series that is underappreciated by collectors and readers today, there are a number of issues from the original Golden Age Blue Beetle series available in this week's 2021 July 4-5 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122127 from Heritage Auctions.

Blue Beetle #5 Vitamin 2x.
Blue Beetle #5 Vitamin 2x.

The early Mystery Men issues explained little of the background elements of Blue Beetle's story. He debuted as a classic masked mystery man, and his costume and gadgetry via his friend and pharmacist Dr. Franz is slowly introduced.  All this changed with the introduction of the series itself. Blue Beetle #1 explains Dan Garrett's somewhat Batman-like background. As a child, Garrett's mother became a victim of the global flu pandemic that swept the world 1918-1920.  This caused him to be more independent and self-reliant than most other kids, and propelled him to excellence in academics and athletics, as well as becoming street smart.  When Garret was a young man, his father was murdered by gangsters, prompting him to become a police officer and ultimately the Blue Beetle.

Blue Beetle #2 adds important new elements in an almost matter-of-fact way that brings the character in line with what we consider the canonical version.  The caption that leads off the lead story explains:

Smashing down upon underworld rackets comes the Blue Beetle, made almost invulnerable by special armor and given super-energy by Vitamin 2X, he crusades for law and justice. None know that in reality, he is Dan Garrett, a rookie policeman.

Blue Beetle #5 then makes some things that have been previously implied a bit more explicit, showing Dr. Franz giving Garrett the armored costume in one story, and explaining the development of Vitamin 2X in another. This one probably deserves a bit more attention from collectors than it gets, and it's worth noting that CGC's Blue Beetle #6 label note of "origin of Blue Beetle" appears to be incorrect. They probably mean #5.

It's worth wondering if the introduction of Vitamin 2X was a crafty way of promoting Victor Fox's notorious and legendary attempt at launching a soft drink, Kooba Cola.  He began advertising Kooba the month after Vitamin 2X's introduction, and marketing promoted the cola's "invigorating" inclusion of Vitamin B-1.  Fox briefly introduced the "Kuba Kid" in Blue Beetle #9, who gains strength from drinking the cola.  In Blue Beetle #5, Garrett is shown downing a Vitamin 2X pill with a glass of water and enjoying the sweet taste.

I'm going to break down the issues available at Heritage this week a bit more.  My notes below in gray:

An overlooked series that is underappreciated by collectors and readers today, there are a number of issues from the original Golden Age Blue Beetle series available in this week's 2021 July 4-5 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122127 from Heritage Auctions.

Blue Beetle #5, Fox Features 1941.
Blue Beetle #5, Fox Features 1941.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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