ART: Ig Guara and JP Mayer
Blue Beetle has had it's ups and downs since day one. While the first arc re-introduced us to Jaime Reyes and his relationship with the Blue Beetle scarab - an artifact that we came to know is actually a malfunctioning tool of the Reach, an intergalactic hive-empire that can destroy entire worlds with a single soldier - it wasn't especially interesting. Beyond the spacefaring origins of the scarab, Jaime's run-ins with El Paso's criminal underground felt forced and came off as underwhelming. Nonetheless, Blue Beetle is an extremely interesting character and Jaime is written very well - his personality shines through Tony Bedard's clumsy plot, and this fact remains the title's anchor as far as quality goes. Throw in an upcoming crossover with Green Lantern and you've sold me. This month, however, focuses on Jaime's dealings with the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) and it's director, Mr. Bones.
Bones is a staple of the old DC universe, using his cunning intellect and detective skills to help out the big-leaguers. Fortunately, our skull-headed friend has made several appearances now in the 'New 52', which is a good sign for the future of the character.
Blue Beetle #10 pulls an Alias on readers by starting the issue with scenes of Jaime's torture on Bones' orders before flashing back seven hours earlier on page three. Jaime is still buzzing around (pun definitely intended) New York City, but he doesn't really have a plan of action. One reason Blue Beetle is fun to read is how relatable Bedard has made Jaime. If you were somehow connected to a crazy interstellar beetle that intermittently took control of your body and turned you into a whack-job hero/menace, would you have any clear-cut plans? Last month, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (who didn't actually reveal his identity to Jaime) suggested that Beetle go to the DEO and meet with Bones. With little else to do, Jaime takes Kyle's advice only to be handcuffed and escorted down to the department's lower basement levels.
This is where things get interesting.
Bones has the bounty hunter from last issue (who was after GL) locked up and he immediately recognizes and talks with Jaime. A quick mention of the scarab's connection to the Reach - and it's true potential as a weapon of mass destruction - sends the DEO agents into a frenzy that ends with Jaime fastened to a torture machine. Bones is a great character because he's actually intelligent. When Jaime escapes, Bones knows they shouldn't go after him. More often than not, there's a chase because it gives more room to have more fighting. Instead, Bedard writes Bones like a rational detective: he hears Jaime's side, sees the evidence, and realizes that authority is not the right way to approach the Blue Beetle. Again, intelligence is often lacking in enemies these days.
The end of the issue brings back up the unfortunate video footage of Blue backhanding a girl in El Paso. Some reporters are yammering on about the difference between writing Blue Beetle as a hero, or as a menace. The decide on the latter, hoping to turn a one-off situation into a scandal, when Booster Gold shows up to put a stop to it.
This is what excited me most about this issue. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold have a long history together - when the Blue Beetle was Ted Kord, albeit - so it's fantastic that DC is building that relationship once again. In the 'New 52', Ted Kord is only a memory (I assume), so it will be interesting to see how a dead character will affect events throughout DC's imprint.