“Fear to Live”
Writer: John Rogers
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Comics
Perhaps the only thing worse than a bad comic book is a good comic book that is almost great.
I give you Blue Beetle #20.
Recently I lamented that an issue of Punisher War Journal was victimized by the Crossover Gods, that the need to create a Punisher tale within the “World War Hulk” storyline resulted in a mediocre, been-there-done-that story. And, surreptitiously enough, this week I was assigned one of those utter rarities; a crossover story that’s good.
Our crossover du jour is The Sinestro Corps, and one of those utter coinkydinks on which crossovers rely brings a little bit of the cosmic battle to Jaime’s backdoor. Seems when one of the… umm… I don’t know? Are they called Yellow Lanterns? I haven’t been reading this thing. Anyway, one of the Sinestro dudes dies and it seems the closest, most suitable replacement the now owner-less ring can find is…
Oh, man. How do I do this without giving too much away? I could say the best replacement it could find was a “friend of Jamie’s,” but that’s not the surprise part, and once I hint around about the ending you’ll so see it coming…
GAH! This reviewing stuff is hard!
OK, so the ring seeks out Peacekeeper and forcefully converts him to Sinestro’s side, then The Reach gets in on the fun and creates a Sinestro-Beetle hybrid. Generic Green Lantern Chick #323 jumps into brouhaha, and it’s all-out superhero battling goodness.
OK, actually it’s not. The fight sequence is strictly by-the-books, nothing you haven’t seen a million times before. On top of that, Rogers beats the reader over the head with the clichéd clue that – Hey! The possessed guy is trying to fight back! Somewhere, deep inside, the real Peacekeeper remains! Yeah, we’ve seen this story so many times, John. We really don’t need Jaime to point out repeatedly that, hey, Peacekeeper keeps saying “Peace!”
And then, quicker than you can say “Forget it, Jon, don’t ever email me again; I can cyber-stalk you, but you can’t cyber-stalk me” – OK, that’s not that quick. Point is, Jamie’s scarab figures out how to save the day and then… well…the day gets saved.
Look, I’m not complaining here. Superhero comics are all about variations on themes – can you take something we’ve seen before and do something new with it? And there is nothing new here, except…
Except Rogers uses this crossover story to finally give us a deeper look at Peacekeeper and show us just how much potential this character has.
If that’s not reason enough to check this one out, there is the surprise ending that is, well, surprising.
If the action had just been a little less clichéd. Or if Rogers had devoted a page or two to falling action – to showing us how Jamie dealt with the surprise ending. Or if… well… if… let’s just say it’s a hell of an ending. If only one or two of these things had been handled differently, this would have been a great book.
But who cares? It’s still a good book in a sea of crap-o-city, and so worth the $2.99. If you haven’t been reading Blue Beetle, don’t start here; it’s a waste of a good ending.
Speaking of good endings, how can I wrap this one up? Maybe I should just stop typing. Right about… now.
What did you think of this book?
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