THIS IS HOW IT’S GOING TO WORK. Plenty blather in recent weeks about the reactionary impulses at work in DC’s decision to get rid of all its Bronze (I call it ‘Early Dark’ but ‘whatever, Steve Trevor’)/Dark/Prismatic Age legacy heroes and replace them with the resurrected Silver Age versions, in a bid to placate the SEETHING, ever-chubbier fanman and his desire for everything to be just like it was when he was a child.

(Minus the constant stream of free electronic NUDITY, I’m guessing.)

[Please note we fully accept the non-existence of the Legion of EviL Fan-Men stereotype. With the cultural dominance of the superhero over the early 21st century very well secure, these arguments, these embarrassments, are very much a relic of another age, and performed here very much in the spirit of a historical battle re-enactment society (and don't get me started on those losers, with their 'going outside' and 'hanging around with other people' and 'getting some fun and healthy exercise'). The caricature is being deployed in the current post merely for cosmic effect, a convenient and pitiful rhetorical ghost to lazily lob some poor jokes and manufactured anger at. To reiterate: It's just a bit of fun. I am as ill-shaven and portly as anyone, and as will become all too apparent my opinions on superheroes are both delinquently partial and barely worth the (very) spare calorie it takes to type them. With those caveats safely in place, read on, if you've got the arse for it.]

blue-douche

As a straight, white, solvent Anglo Kelt – pure oppressor class, the enormous invisibilities of privilege weighing featherlike on my shoulders – I feel un-uniquely well qualified to weigh in on the whole ‘is it racist?’ issue. The answer, to anyone with the slightest ability to look themself in the eye without VOMITING at the sight of one’s moral laxity, is ‘of course it’s racist’. Why on earth would a sane person even waste time considering that this person here (we shall give him a funky superhero name, and men shall call him The Hypotheticon, or perhaps Straw-Man), who is actually spaceman enough to even know, to even give a damn, whether it’s Wal or Baz in the red running suit this week, might be well-socialised enough to have successfully internalised modern taboos against racial prejudice? He doesn’t care if people in his neighbourhood are being discriminated against on account of their race. He cares about Hal Jordan.

What I’m going to do, here before your eyes at the everloving Mindless Ones Dot Com, is perform the utterly IMPOSSIBLE. I am going to drink of the waters of the Lethe, erase from my memory all of my own preconceptions about which superhero is best, and based on nothing more than information available through Wikipedia and Google Images, I’m going to objectively, fairly, but above all authoritatively compare ye olde with the new and see which iteration of which superhero is best and deserves to be the One True Holder of the mighty mantle of… whoever’s turn it is this time.

It’s Blue Beetle’s turn. Let’s look at the men, the Inheritors of the Scarab of Khaji Da, who have been blessed and brave enough to make the mantle of the bold beryl bug their own. (I think I will probably have to use the word ‘mantle’ rather a lot over the course of these posts, for which I apologise in advance. ‘Mantle’ is, along with ‘annihilate’, ‘telepathic’ and ‘alter-ego’, one of the core words of the lost Superhero Dictionary, the definitive compendium of terms that are never used in real life but are inescapably ubiquitous in superhero comics. Comics readers are supposed to have vocabularies 20% larger than the average. Unfortunately, 99% of those extra words are totally useless. I’m sure someone else did a blog post on that very topic a while back.)

Let’s go:

The Golden Age Blue Beetle (Dan Garrett)

dan-garrett

Dan Garrett! The Blue Beetle! Hhmm… ‘Dan Garrett’ is a pretty rubbish name for a secret identity, isn’t it? Weakly alliterative, and a poor finish on the final syllable (come to think of it, isn’t Blue Beetle a pretty rubbish name for a superhero? Oh wow, it’s a blue one, is it? Like ‘blue’ is such an impressive quality that it needs to be right there in the headline. And beetle? Oh right, not Wasp or Mantis or any of the cool insects, just the really generic and normal one? Only Blue? Great. Like, he’s got a magic scarab, why wouldn’t you call yourself The Magic Scarab, that’s much cooler. It’s a ‘Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone’ kinda deal there I suspect, mustn’t scare THE MOUTH BREATHERS. What’s a Scarab?)

bluebeetle1

Sorry, sidetrack. Not a great start for DAN, is it? He’s very much a man of his times. The Golden Age lines on his outfit are a crisp, classic cut, nice, but not remarkable enough to stand out. A dodgy colour separation and he’s just The Phantom isn’t he? His powers too, solid strongman stuff, a bit of eyebeams and ‘energy blasts’, a touch of the jump-flights, are OK in a pleasingly vague rise-to-the-occasion kind of way, but again not impressive enough to successfully mark out his pitch. No memorable villains to speak of, and, and I say this with no real knowledge but of course it’s going to be true, some nasty ethnic stereotypes in his villain register.

DG, the GA BB is too much of an everyman to really make his mark as the One True bearer of the MANTLE.

The Other Age Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)

blue-douche

Spoiler Alert: There is no way in HELL that Ted Kord is going to win.

But he’s got a cool aeroplane spaceship thing! (Well, no he hasn’t, he’s got one which looks like my daughter drew it, which did nothing except get destroyed a lot, and besides) So has Batman.

He’s got some other cool gadgets! So has Batman.

But he’s rich and a genius! So is Batman.

But he’s got no superpowers, he just fights using WIT and SPUNK! So does Batman.

But he’s got a sort of bluey-grey costume! So has Batman.

But he was in the Justice League! Batman was running the Justice League when this CLOWN was in it.

Ah! I have you now! There’s one thing Batman hasn’t got which Tedward Kord has got in spades: a sense OF humour!

Well sorry son, sorry if the costumes gave you the wrong impression but THIS IS CRIMEFIGHTING, not the GODDAM CIRCUS. There’re lives at stake here and this fool just wants to spend all day looking at the girls in their fightsuits and mucking about with his mate! When’s he gonna grow the hell up, stupid, rubbish, over-privileged idiot.

Let me tell you, when I BINNED all my issues of Infinite Crisis the other week (try it friends – the resultant feeling of liberation is EXQUISITE) the only one I couldn’t bear to part with was the Prologue issue where this fool get a bullet in his STUPID GOGGLY head. It’s a great issue – everyone spends all of it telling this macrodouche what a LOSER he is, and then he gets CAPPED at the end in his STUPID GOGGLY head.

(That’s a LIE of course – I threw this issue out along with all the others, because it had this PATHETIC IDIOT in it. I will not have this turd in my comic collection, stinking the whole place up, and to give you an idea of what that means to me chum, I own comics with CABLE in them.)

(That’s a LIE of course – like everyone else I love the initial Giffen JLA run and have the trades.)

The Laser Age Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes)

BB01Ca_color

UGH. Talk about political correctness gone mad – this idiot’s comics were so lame some of the dialogue in them was in Spanish sometimes. Pathetic. I emailed the DC website about this – how am I, a repulsive Hutt of a man with nothing to do but sit on the internet all day, supposed to find a helpful translation of all that Latino jabber? I live in the United States of American, where a mere thirty five million Spanish speakers live – there is no way it would be possible for me to find anyone to help me with this intractable intelligibility problem in your stupid, unintelligible comic of stupidity. Talk about political correctness gone mad. UGH.

Jamie Reyes has got his own cartoon you know. (I mean, basically he has.) It’s the wisdom of crowds – sometimes the numbers just speak for themselves. Sometimes (ALL THE TIME) John and Jane idiot sheep consumer are smarter than a few hundred weeping Korduroys (I don’t mean ‘weeping’ in the ‘crying tears’ sense, I mean in the ‘blistered sofa-sores’ sense). Jamie Reyes is the first bearer of the Blue beetle mantle who has got any of the things you expect from a decent superhero. A cool costume, a sidekick (his now-sentient costume, but honestly, sometimes Batman is his sidekick FOR FUCKSAKE) a believable friends & family setup in the background, cool powers, a toy made in his honour (a real toy, I mean. Not a collector man toy like my awesome 12 inch Admiral Ackbar – that’s not a euphemism – but a toy, a real kid’s toy for a kid to play with that Zom’s kid has got and loves and everything.)

So there we have it, in black and white for everyone to see. The One True Blue Beetle is Jamie Reyes, a nice kid trying to do his best, and the others, Dan Garrett who no-one gives a damn about anyway, and Ted Kord, the one who the people who are KILLING COMICS care about, and their fans, can die drowning in a river of their own poo, pickled.

Next up, them FLASH BASTARDS.

31 Responses to “Battle of the Ages: Chapter Eye – Blue Beetle”

  1. James W Says:

    solid strongman stuff, a bit of eyebeams and ‘energy blasts’…
    Whoa whoa whoa: eyebeams? That’s pretty good, man, c’mon.

  2. bobsy Says:

    Since I bashed out his lazy bag of balls the other week, breaking news is that the everlovin Jamie Reyes actually has his own LIVE ACTION tv-show now, as if my point needed further emphasis. Pow pow – eat lead, Ted!

    Eyebeams are kind of OK, I will give dead Dan Garrett that much, but look at his costume again, particularly the second cover. Doesn’t Dan know that short-skirt- over-leggings was last winter?

  3. Zom Says:

    Truth, Bobsy.

    But Reyes AIN’T got a live action show yet – our Geoffrey is pushing for it THOUGH.

    I love CUTE little Reyes and his big bug eyes. He’s a nostalgia killer if ever there WAS one. Kids prefer the costumes that don’t do human faces. FACT

  4. Lanmao, the Blue Cat Says:

    I love this to the extent that I may quit my job in order to more patiently await the series’ next installment, and every installment thereafter. I want my business card to read “THIS IS CRIMEFIGHTING, not the GODDAM CIRCUS”.

  5. Matthew Craig Says:

    Dan Garrett had his own RADIO SHOW, though. You can hear it on archive.org. Eighty-Million Americans tuned in EVERY SINGLE DAY to the Adventures of the Blue Beetle and his apothecary sidekick (and his cop partner, BJ Ziss).

    And THEN they’d segue into BARRY CRAIG: FUCK!

    From whom I am descended!

    THAT’S RIGHT: RADIO SHOWS WERE FERTILE.

    //\Oo/\\

  6. Zom Says:

    matt, you need TO work more randomness into your capitalisation

  7. Matthew Craig Says:

    You’re the second person to say that to me this month! There are, however, little to no random capital letters in my message board replies. Random punctuation!, on the other hand? Now THAT’s. My. Bag.

    I shall, of course, endeavour to be less histrionic in the future. :)

    //\Oo/\\

  8. amypoodle Says:

    that was the funniest thing i’ve read all of this week.

    he said on monday.

  9. amypoodle Says:

    oh yes, and i agree with all of it.

    radical idea that, the one about ted kord not only not being the best blue beetle but also being a shitforarseholes – i resisted at first, but you persuaded me.

  10. Bucky Sinister Says:

    I do love that Ted Kord Blue Beetle costume. I love very little else about the character, mind you, but that costume’s pretty cool.

    You’re right, though, of course: Jamie Reyes is WAY over with the kids, partially perhaps because he’s better-written on Brave and Bold than he ever was in his actual comic…

  11. It Burns Says:

    Bobsy,

    When I read this I lulzy-chortled so hard I roffl’d b.s. onto my BFF.

    All the racism hubbub around the death of the new Atom made me nauseous. It seemed like a fansterbate reaction to losing a favorite character veiled in extreme accusations.

    I don’t give a fuck who the Atom is, and it sounds like the issue was indeed terrible, but to use racism as an excuse to whine?…seemed a bit dispicable.

  12. RetroWarbird Says:

    Jaime Reyes is this decade’s success story, for sure. The 90′s had Tim Drake (See, Superboy doesn’t count on account of sucking hard until very recently), the 80′s had Ronnie Raymond (sure, he actually came out in ’78, except, fuck it, the bulk of his growth came in the 80′s, same as Tim Drake actually first showed in ’88 or ’89 but the bulk of his growth came in the 90′s).

    I like Ted Kord fine and all, but that kid is pure win. Ted can continue to have adventures with Booster thanks to hilarious time-travel and the DCU will do fine with the new kid.

    Take that, Static!

  13. Zom Says:

    Burnster, I’m not sure any of us think that there’s nothing problematic about a legacy driven reversion to All White Men. It *is* an issue that bears looking at.

  14. It Burns Says:

    Right, I agree. I think, though, the issue should be looked at in a broader context, line-wide, and most likely the folks at DC are so incompitent they didn’t consider that pandering to the people Bobsy parodies in this post would result in All White Men.

    It is a problem. It’s hard for me to believe, though, that fanboy wanks actually care about race in comics more than their oh so favorite character being offed. Perhaps I’m just jaded.

  15. Zom Says:

    No, no, I think that’s true, all I’m saying is that the effect of re-whiteifiing the DCU is bad.

  16. It Burns Says:

    And isn’t it a shame? All whitening the DCU when it’s ripe for multiculture? It seems like, if they wanted to, the DCU could be a very diverse place with room for heroes of every ethnicity, nationality what have you.

    To my knowledge Granty the Mozz is the only one even trying. I would love to be proved wrong.

  17. RetroWarbird Says:

    It’s also a shame because it’s easily a notion that can be subverted to some degree, without even cosmetic tweaks or artificial tans on preexisting characters.

    Damn few white DC super-heroes actually have their ethnic heritages explored. We know Batman is primarily Scottish, Aquaman Irish and Atlantean … and more. (Discounting Superman’s “Kryptonians are Space-Jews but it doesn’t actually count” and Wonder Woman’s “Amazons are not strictly Greeks” notions.)

    But just because Hal Jordan seems mightily Anglo doesn’t mean his mother wasn’t Latin. Kyle Rayner is Mex-Irish, right? That was an afterthought but it seems perfectly fine.

    Who says Ray Palmer’s mother wasn’t Egyptian, Ronnie Raymond’s mom wasn’t Indian, Harvey Dent’s or Barry Allen didn’t have a black grandfather? (Well, maybe not blond-haired, blue-eyed Allen …)

    It seems like an easy fix, and at least partially rooted in our paternal-centric society. Surnames come from fathers … who the hell even knows where these cartoon comic characters’ mothers came from.

    Do I really want to read “Hal Jordan gets in touch with his Native-American grandmother’s tribe”? Well, like any story, it depends on who writes it, who draws it and if it’s any good. But there’s potential in retroactively enforcing the good old USA “melting pot” policy in characters who only superficially “seem” lily-white.

    DC has an easy opportunity to just say “Most of our “white” characters are multiracial, it just hasn’t been explored yet!”

    Cheap? Maybe. Effective? Sure!

  18. RetroWarbird Says:

    (Just so long as Aquaman stays Irish.)

  19. James W Says:

    But: once the hypothetical “Hal Jordan gets in touch with his Native-American grandmother’s tribe” story is over, aren’t you just left with with a character that looks, walks and quacks white, but that DC can defend with “no, he’s 1/8th Native American! It says so on the back of this trading card!”?

  20. Bombie Says:

    may I venture off topic for a sec? I am sure that there was a mindless-magazine at some point which was downloadable as a pdf. I intended to do thusly but – no trace! Did my feverish mind invent your essay-zine-project or was every trace of it erased by sinister forces hellbent on dumbifying the comicsosphere and fighting the prismatic age? Hilfe?

  21. Zom Says:

    Keep watching this space, B.

  22. RetroWarbird Says:

    “once the hypothetical “Hal Jordan gets in touch with his Native-American grandmother’s tribe” story is over, aren’t you just left with with a character that looks, walks and quacks white, but that DC can defend with “no, he’s 1/8th Native American! It says so on the back of this trading card!”?”

    How does a Native American act? How does any particular ethnic group act? If it’s not a cliche or a stereotype it’s a subversion of that, typically, no matter what color their skin is. God knows getting in touch with his heritage doesn’t mean Hal Jordan should start shedding a lone tear when he sees litter on the ground, or walking barefoot.

    So yes, I’m suggesting just that. I advocate cheap, gimmicky half-cures. At least for the high-profile American characters.

    (Naturally, I’m never opposed to seeing new characters introduced and hope their ethnic backgrounds make the story better, rather than just existing for the sake of wanton diversity.)

  23. Zom Says:

    I’m happy to want more diversity regardless of whether or not it has story value

  24. amypoodle Says:

    me absolutely too. stories are a 100% safe space to deploy affirmative action. art should rehearse life.

  25. RetroWarbird Says:

    “me absolutely too. stories are a 100% safe space to deploy affirmative action. art should rehearse life.”

    The phrasing here clicked something in my brain, perhaps a webcomic, purely tongue-in-cheek and with the primary notion of shining a big spotlight on the diversity issue … “Affirmative” Action Comics, naturally featuring a Black Superman.

    Brainstorming ensues.

  26. It Burns Says:

    This is not an all an out fix, but I would love to see the “melting pot” metaphor of America explored.

    Not that in real life the metaphor is entirely accurate, nor that even though we are an ethnically diverse nation that our non-white ethnic groups are treated like equals, but as an ideal it is a beautiful thing.

    I am, I think, at my core an idealist, and my love for superheroes stems from that primarily.

    What the idea would require is a lot less strenuous than creating new backgrounds for existing characters. All that’s needed is presence–which the DCU has in spades even though they’re ignored–of different ethnic groups. From there you could explore…not necessarily race relations, I’m not sure superheroes are fit for that kind of issue, but perhaps superhero tropes filtered through a different American culture. I mean, the superheroes that are the “big guns” are (primarily) the products of Jewish-Americans. It seems obvious to Morrison alone how easy it is to find superheroes in other cultures.

    And I think there is a distinction between finding superheroes rather than mythology. Maybe that’s tautology I don’t know.

  27. RetroWarbird Says:

    “I mean, the superheroes that are the “big guns” are (primarily) the products of Jewish-Americans.”

    I think one could assume by that alone that some of our ultra-white big gun heroes might just be “Ellis Island White”. Without delving too far into how the U.S. is to this day a place that strips people of their true ethnic background and just labels them the racism-friendly “white, brown or black” category, I think the broad nature of a lot of heroes, white or otherwise, definitely warrants more “American Ideal” melting pot backgrounds than “American Reality – Melting pot? Everyone pretty much stays in their ethnic neighborhoods”.

    Such a weird contrast nowadays, compared to the 70′s, when guys like Black Lightning or Black Panther were introduced. Their “Black” prefixes might seem cheesy by today’s standards, but those characters have stuck around for a long time because their introduction really meant something at the time. So I imagine that makes them success stories and it’s Grade-A proof that introducing diversity for diversity’s sake is good for the industry in every way – story, aesthetics, and compromise.

    The diversity dilemma is always an interesting one to talk about.

  28. It Burns Says:

    I get what you mean, and I think we’re pretty much on the same page.

    My only question is, why not just create new characters? The old ones aren’t necessarily broken, their writers and artists just suck donkey tits.

    The whole Ellis Island thing is kind of a given also. You know, yes each white American hero is of mixed descent, we whities weren’t here first. What my problem with that idea is is that, as I said, I don’t think superheroes are particularly fit for issues like immigration and race-relations in a realistic setting. Take those ideas and filter them through symbolism and metaphor (Supes) and wam-bam-thankyou-maam.

    Basically, a story about how Green Lantern is half-German or whatever sounds boring to me.

  29. RetroWarbird Says:

    “Basically, a story about how Green Lantern is half-German or whatever sounds boring to me.”

    Me as well. We basically agree.

    Although a story about how Aquaman is descended from Celtic/Arthurian myth that predates Greco-Roman pantheons? That could be good.

  30. The Satrap Says:

    Hahahahaha, this is great. Even though he is essentially innocuous, you’ve made dislike Ted Kord for a second there. The inevitable Hal Jordan hate-fest is going to be epic!

  31. Helene Says:

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