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Blue Beetle #18

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2007
By: Jon Judy



“Away Game”

Writer: John Rogers
Artists: Rafael Albuquerque, David Baldeon, and Dan Davis

Publisher: DC Comics


Don’t let the backstory fool you: this book may be about the new Blue Beetle, but it’s actually a really old fashioned comic.

Case in point: in issue #18, Jaime and his pals investigate a rocket being launched from a Lexcorp facility because his scarab picked up some Reach-chatter related to the rocket. The Teen Titans also drop by because Batman has a package on board that needs to be safely delivered to space, and he is afraid someone will ambush the delivery. The result is a totally-retro superhero crossover, complete with the requisite fight between heroes.

No, they just don’t make them like this anymore, and when they did, they made them better.

The first five pages set up all the exposition, place all the characters on the scene, and jump right into the action. That’s fine, but I haven’t read Teen Titans in years – although, and I wish I were making this up, a convicted pedophile who shops at my local store has raved about it in an attempt to get me to try it – so I don’t know any of the characters. Therefore, I just don’t give a damn about them.

That was the secret to all those great old Marvel crossovers; not only did the characters meet up and start slugging each other with a minimal amount of introductory material, but what introductory material we got introduced the characters; the creators didn’t just assume the readers would give a damn about some random J’ane J’onz Martian chickie.

Beyond that, the exposition is handled sloppily; I had to re-read parts of the first five pages several times just to understand what was going on.

Putting aside the flaw of trying to cram too much into one story, this issue suffers from certain logistical flaws. Why on earth would Bruce Wayne use a Lexcorp facility to launch his anti-Reach package into space? Why wouldn’t Bats get Superman or Wonder Woman to deliver it for him, or use some of that sweet JLA technology? Hell, they hang out on the moon, and he needs to subcontract satellite installations?

Speaking of subcontracting, why would he send the Titans? If the package was so important – and it must have been if the Reach sent Lobo to stop it – why wouldn’t he go himself? Or bring some of the second-stringers from the current Justice League? What, Speedy was too busy splitting Hawkgirl’s apple to defend the earth? He had to send Robin and… I can’t even keep track. Who are Wonder Girl and Supergirl this month? I don’t know, but I’m assuming if Red Tornado is good enough for League admission and they’re not, they must suck royally. And who is this Blue Devil wannabe, and why should I care?

Oh, wait, I’ve already covered that; I’m focusing on logistical lapses now.

Why would Lobo just give up on stopping the rocket once it was launched? He literally sees it take off and just leaves, saying there was no way to stop it now. Umm… this is Lobo, right? Flies around space unprotected, goes toe-to-toe with Superman? And he can’t destroy a rocket before it leaves earth’s atmosphere or before Batman’s package is placed in orbit?

Heh… Batman’s package…

Anyway, the issue is far from a total waste. It has the humor and charm readers have come to expect from Blue Beetle, and Albuquerque’s art remains nearly perfect for the tone of this book. I say nearly perfect because the team of Baldeon and Davis, who provide art on some of the pages, managed to maintain a sense of visual unity while delivering a better project. It’s a neat trick.

But this book is at its best when (1) they take the time to tell a story properly and (2) the focus is on Jamie and his family and friends. We got a Batman cameo in a book that was too busy last time, and we got a Titans appearance in a book even busier this time.

Yeah. Okay. I got it: Jamie resides in the DC Universe.

Now can we see him stick closer to home for awhile?



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