Today we have a guest writer - Mike P., formerly of the Are You Feelin' Big Mike blog. That blog is now unfortunately closed but I invited Mike P. to share some of his thoughts about our mutual love for Blue Beetle. I am not even going to talk about how great I think Mike P.'s writing is - I am just going to let you love it as well.
Fanboy Entitlement From a Blue Beetle Fan
By Mike P.
I remember it like it was yesterday: My dear friend Ben screaming in my face, “Mike P., why aren’t you reading Blue Beetle?!?!?!” Now, Ben screams a lot, so it would be easy for this moment to fade away like any other. But I took it seriously and grabbed the first trade of the current Blue Beetle series.
“Holy crap, Ben Hatton!!!!” I screamed in his face shortly thereafter. “Blue Beetle is the jump off!” What a comic! Great characters, clever dialogue, solid balance of comedy and tragedy, respect for the old with an eye towards the new… basically, Blue Beetle is everything a good DC comic should be. But you already knew that, otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to tolerate Ben’s blog for long. And as a Crazy 88, you also already knew that there is a creative change afoot in the Beetleverse and that Will Pfeifer will be taking the reigns from John Rogers.
Will Pfieffer has done a great job on Catwoman, so I don’t doubt his abilities for even a hot second. But Blue Beetle is no ordinary comic. Writing this series, in my humble opinion, requires for a writer to defy many of the instincts he or she may have developed while reading and writing comics. The formula for Blue Beetle seems simple on the surface, but upon further analysis, we see that it is a well-executed subversion of comic book clichés and a refreshing take on the teen superhero story. So, in a rare exercise of fanboy entitlement, Big Mike is going to give his $.02 about some of the pitfalls he sees for the creator inheriting the best comic on the shelf.
Firstly, Jaime Reyes is a teen, but he’s not Peter Parker. He’s not angsty or self-involved. Jaime listens to his parents and has a strong relationship with his friends. From the very start, he’s smart enough to know that he can’t carry the burden of the Scarab alone, so he enlists the help of those who love him. He has humility without self-loathing. He has wit without cockiness. He garners support without becoming weak. In short, Jaime Reyes is a good kid who comes from a good family. Taking away these pillars would be an easy way to introduce new and potentially interesting conflict, but it could, in the long run, diminish the character’s nobility and appeal.
On that same note, Blue Beetle may be the main character in the story, but he’s certainly not the only hero. In fact, I would argue that Blue Beetle is a book about a community of heroes coming together around one central character. Together, the cast is the body of the American hero: Paco is the muscle, Brenda is the brain, Peacemaker is the guts, Mr. and Mrs. Reyes are the conscience, and Jaime, of course, is the beating heart of the whole thing. Jaime doesn’t just give his best. He brings out the best in those around him, and it’s literally inspiring.
Finally, I believe that Pfeifer should bear in mind that Jaime is a legacy hero who carries a proud, if at times unappreciated, name and history. Rogers’ arc for Jaime has been a long form explanation of how a good kid finds heroism within himself. His interactions with Guy Gardner and Superman have shown time and again that it isn’t the Scarab that makes him special. It’s his heart. The creator should be mindful that the space rock Jaime carries inside him was meant as a tool for conquest and destruction, but it’s proximity to a certain young man subverted its purpose and made it a tool for good. As Jaime himself said of the Blue Beetles, ‘We don’t need no stinking powers.’ What he does need is the moral compass of his friends, family, his heroic legacy, and his own sense of right and wrong. Though he began as a reluctant kid, Jaime is an honorable man apart, even among the noble heroes of the DCU. Among the most compelling journeys for Jaime Reyes is and should continue to be the unending discovery of what it means to carry the mantle of the Blue Beetle. Good luck, Will. Don’t let me down.