It’s time for another installment in the Showcase series. Like Marvel’s Essential, this collection brings a bunch of comics and makes for some intense reading. This showcase actually brings the whole Blue Beetle series, which is pretty neat. It’s very self contained comic with few guest stars, which really cements the 60’s vibe that you get from the collection. The 60’s tone is a good thing in this case as it feels retro and engaging.
Blue Beetle is a man named Ted Kord. Ted is rich and he also makes for a great crime fighter. He runs a lab personally along with his two assistants as they try to build things. We never get to see any of their actual inventions, but I’m sure that they’re good. Kord’s main objective is to enforce the peace in his city and stop the villains who show up from time to time. There are subplots, which continue as well since this comic’s continuity is actually very tight. One of his teammates is stealing from him and giving tech to her boss. Another teammate is being blackmailed by a crime boss. Kord’s personal assistant who does most of his actual day to day duties goes from being a potential love interest to threatening him while on the job. Finally, Kord is trying to build his own legacy after the original Blue Beetle died, but it’s a little harder than he thought it would be! You can see that he’s under a lot of pressure eh?
First off, the art for this graphic novel was actually quite good. You can really enjoy the fight scenes here as well as the fun character designs. It was partially thanks to this that I actually thought that I was reading something from the 60’s. I was shocked to find out that this was actually an 80’s series. It does make sense of course when you think of the continuing plot and continuity, but it’s still surreal. Also, The Amazing Spider Man was in the 60’s and it had continuity on its side as well right? Unfortunately, this collection decided to transform the art into black and white, which makes reading it slightly less fun than it would be with color. At least you can appreciate the designs like a manga this way I suppose.
Next, the writing for the collection is very good as I alluded to earlier in the collection. Blue Beetle’s lines are very witty without being too obvious. He replies to villains in a way that is making fun of them, but if taken seriously, the lines would actually make sense. That’s the best kind of pun as it could actually be used in real life if you really wanted too. The villains also make some pretty good comebacks as well. For example, Blue Beetle might say “I wouldn’t want you to put me to sleep with that!” as he dodges a wrecking ball and the villain will say “Actually, I plan to kill you with that.” The villains say it in such a somber and matter of fact tone that it works for the humor.
Blue Beetle is a good lead and he can certainly hold his own collection. Among the many plots, his was typically my favorite. I always liked to see how he handled the office and he didn’t back down to anyone. He was a really nice guy while still being ready to smash into the villains when a fight broke out. What really seals the deal for me was how he handled the ending. It’s really terrific and shows just why he became such a good superhero. What he lacks in actual super powers, he more than makes up for with his intelligence and gadgets.
As I mentioned earlier, the ending for this collection is terrific. Let’s just say that a few of the characters had been giving him a tough time for quite a few issues. They finally go to Ted and admit that they were wrong, but he explains that he simply doesn’t care anymore. Then..he just walks off and leaves them to the their situation. It’s so unexpected and sudden that it’s simply amazing. It would be great to see what his next appearance was after this although I think the character may have been reconnected at that point. I hope not since I don’t think that they will ever be able to make a Ted Kord who is cooler than this one. I don’t even think a Blue Beetle could top him. He’s certainly weaker than the average one, but personality wise, this was really everything I could hope for in a lead. He was a little flirty towards the beginning to be sure, but at least it was only with the love interest and he acted respectfully with everyone else.
This series really tries to be a solo title in its truest form so there are very few guest stars. That being said, they do pop up from time to time. Batman and the Justice League of America appear at one point, but Blue Beetle tells them to stay back since he can handle this. The Teen Titans also arrive for some backup support, but they actually don’t look great. As characters, they’re likable and they’re epic, but when it came down to a fight…I dunno. I feel like any team that has three powerhouses in the form of Starfire, Cyborg, and Wonder Girl should be able to vanquish a team of cadets who were engaging in their first ever fight. It was a surprisingly close battle considering this. Finally, we can’t forget the Question. The Question has one moment that is pretty humorous when he jumps from Blue Beetle’s ship and barely survives the landing. He claims that he had to do it as a matter of pride, but if he had actually died, it probably would have been the saddest way to go. Seriously….for honor!
The villains aren’t very imaginative here on the whole, but at least we had some decent ones. The original Blue Beetle returns from the grave to destroy Ted Kord. The Scarab is manipulating him so the original Beetle seems pretty upset and fierce. Not to worry though, Ted Kord knows how to defend himself. Ignoring plot hax, it’s easy to see why the original Blue Bettle would win in a fight. Ted can try to out think the guy, but it would really be a futile effort. I am glad that the original one regained his mind though and showed us some true will power. A villain who came from another comic series was the Time Lord or Chronos. It was one of those names anyway I believe as time was his gimmick. His abilities are deadly, but he never uses them correctly so he was hardly a threat. Likewise, there was a guy who could do anything with his mind like transforming a kid into an animal, but he didn’t think to use those tricks on Blue Beetle. His loss I suppose.
One of the subplots that was a lot of fun was Lt. Fisher and how he wanted to put the Blue Beetle out of business. Eventually, the guy went to an island and discovered an immensely powerful robot. That robot was pretty cool and his abilities were certainly impressive. You almost feel bad for the guy who inhabited the suit as he really thought that he had surpassed the original Blue Beetle for a second there. Little did he know that he was seriously out of his depths here.
Blue Beetle’s strength really lies in its continuity and how much you enjoy each plot since they will be sticking around. There were times when I’d actually be waiting for Blue Beetle’s plot to end because I wanted to see what was happening in the meanwhile. The plots were simply fun that way and it’s why I ended up giving the comic an extra star. It really reminded me of The Amazing Spider Man from back in the day. I don’t know why Blue Beetle never hit it off the same way.
Overall, You’re bound to like this comic if you like Blue Beetle as the lead. Since Ted Kord gets a lot of screen time, you really need to like him to thoroughly enjoy the collection. Naturally, the same goes for the subplots since they will be around the whole time. If both of those turn out to be winners for you, then you will really like this collection. The art is solid and the writing is very witty, which leads to a pretty powerful combo here. This collection is also much longer than the average one as it is around 600 pages instead of just being over 400. You certainly get a lot of value for your purchase here. It is regrettable that this concludes the Blue Beetle series since I would have liked to have seen him go on more adventures, but I suppose that it was simply his time. I recommend checking this out when you get the chance!