Patrick: There’s a point in issue 16 where Moonrunner refers to being stuck in The Hunted as “a fate worse than death.” It’s a hyperbolic cliche — one that gets trotted out whenever a writer wants to artificially heighten the stakes. The phrase caries an added significance here in the final pages of Blue Beetle. If the Jaime Reyes dies here, then his story ends, and the bittersweet message he recorded for his family serves as a poignant farewell to the emotional origins of this character. But if Jaime Reyes survives this series, he’ll be put into the reality / game show “The Hunted,” which means he will linger on lifelessly in the pages of the largely abysmal Threshold. For anyone attached to the Blue Beetle, seeing him languish in another series (just as this one was starting to feel real again) is a fate worse than the character’s death.
Drew: Last month, Patrick accused Blue Beetle of pulling a Million Dollar Baby — that is, getting you emotionally invested in the narrative, only to dramatically switch the story it is telling in the final act. I can totally understand being frustrated with Million Dollar Baby for tricking us into watching a heavy-handed morality play, but I actually appreciate that it did something more interesting with its scrappy, up-and-coming boxer (win or lose, Rocky has already been there). It suddenly became much harder to summarize, wading into heady ideas in lieu of simple events, and found something besides simple pride to mine from the relationship formed between Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank’s characters. With that more specific definition — that Million Dollar Baby switches from a rote, event-driven story to a character-driven meditation on family — I would actually classify Blue Beetle‘s recent tonal change as a reverse-Million Dollar Baby. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Blue Beetle 13, originally released October 17th, 2012.
Patrick: Did you guys see Million Dollar Baby? I’m going to spoil it right here, so fair warning. The first two-thirds of the movie is a rousing sports movie: Hilary Swank plays a lady-boxer and Clint Eastwood plays her curmudgeonly coach/manager. During one of the big bouts, Hilary Swank falls and breaks her neck. She breaks her neck. The final 45 minutes of the movie become a morality play exploring Clint Eastwood’s decision to take his paralyzed pupil off life-support. The plot, the tone, the pacing — it all turns on a dime. Suddenly you’re watching a different movie with the same characters. I hated this shift, partially because I felt the message of the later third was heavy-handed, but mostly because I liked the boxing movie. Million Dollar Baby lured me into its world with something I found genuinely attractive and then took it away from me. Blue Beetle, why you gotta Million Dollar Baby me?
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Blue Beetle 0, originally released September 19, 2012. Blue Beetle 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Patrick: The Blue Beetle series is unique among DC Comics for a lot of different reasons. Jaime Reyes is a normal teenager, who comes from the most convincing (and traditionally complete, I might add) family I’ve read since Animal Man. Most teenage heroes don’t sweat being on their own, but Jaime’s decision to leave home to protect his friends and family is appropriately difficult. He doesn’t know how to use his powers, but mostly he just doesn’t know how to live on his own. His life is scary in ways both totally relateable and completely unimaginable. Jaime’s also one of the only Chicano characters I’m reading – and unlike other half-assed attempts at integrating other cultures into comics, Jaime’s culture actually has a bearing on the thrust of the story: characters speak Spanglish, they attend Quinceañeras, their families are large and close. But the zero issue leaves most of that behind to explore the history of the Scarab on Jaime’s back – this is the story of Khaji-Da.