Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Ig Guara
Inker: J. P Mayer
Colourist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Previously, in Blue Beetle: Jaime travelled to New York in search of a superhero mentor. Instead, he ran afoul of the Department of Extranormal Operations, run by the mysterious Director Bones. Jaime managed to escape, but soon found himself in battle with another superhero, Booster Gold, whose knowledge of the future meant that he knew of the Reach and their plans for Earth.
Jaime was saved by his grandmother, who has been looking for him ever since he ran away. Meanwhile, Jaime’s friends Brenda and Paco have come to New York to find him themselves. Unfortunately, a previous adventure has left Paco infected by a Reach parasite, which manifests in the presence of Jaime and mutates Paco into the murderous Blood Beetle. After a run-in with Director Bones, the Blood Beetle is unleashed once again!
I likened this series to DC’s Spider-Man last time I reviewed it, and I believe that this comparison is getting even more accurate as the issues go by. This issue sees a rematch between Jaime and the Blood Beetle, as well as the continuing sub-plots between Brenda, Paco, and Jaime’s grandmother. There’s a good balance of battle scenes and some very heartfelt quieter scenes that make this a perfect mesh of a comic book.
Firstly, this issue really highlights how far both Jaime and the Scarab have come since the beginning of the series, both in their relationship with each other, and how they interact with the world around them. They almost seem to be on the same page, and the Scarab is learning human concepts that will help it blend in much better, as well as seeing just why humans work the way they do. There’s some way to come for both of them, but the strides they have taken in their role as heroes (and almost friends, if you can be friends with a piece of sentient alien tech grafted to your spine) are never more apparent than in this issue.
The Blood Beetle is quickly becoming Blue Beetle’s version of Venom; this character is a dark mirror of what Jaime could be if the Scarab took control of him, or if he relinquished his control over it in order to wreck the planet. Merciless, and prepared to hurt anyone that could get in its way, the fact that the Blood Beetle’s existence is basically Jaime and the Scarab’s fault adds to the comparison even more, but doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s true—whilst the end of the issue seems to clear up the Blood Beetle forever, his return later in the series would be an interesting way to see if Jaime has come even further by that point, operating as almost a measuring post for him.
I will continue to praise Ig Guara’s artwork on this book until someone hits me with something to make me stop. His style makes the book seem just fun enough to be a superhero book, but has a dark edge that can be surprising, such as the Blood Beetle’s snarling jaws, or the ferocity that the art adds to his attacks. But then there are other moments that go the opposite way in tone, such as Jaime’s bemused face in his grandmother’s apartment, or her crazy looking appearance. It shows a vast variety of different approaches to the situation, and illustrates just how flexible an artist Guara is in this kind of book.
With Jaime’s adventures in New York basically over at this point, bar a sojourn over in the Justice League International Annual in a few weeks, it’s going to be fun to see where Tony Bedard takes the character next. Solicitations say that we’re going to Reachworld, which will give Jaime even more problems to overcome. This series is probably flying under a lot of people’s radars, but it is a solid superhero series with a big heart and well worth checking out. It really has hit a stride since around issue #4, and continues to improve with every new issue; I urge you to give it a try.
GO Rating: 4/5