This September, comic book writer Tony Bedard, one of the creative forces behind DC Comics’ “Green Lantern Corps” and “War of the Green Lanterns,” is switching his favorite color from Green to Blue — Beetle, that is.
Accompanied by artists Ig Guara and Ruy Jose, Bedard is bringing “Blue Beetle” back to comic book stores as part of DC Comics’ 52 title relaunch. Starring Jaime Reyes, the crime fighting teen from El Paso, the series marks DC’s second attempt to center a comic on Jaime. The first appeared in 2006, written by John Rogers and Keith Giffen with art by Cully Hamner and served to introduce readers to Jaime and the scarab, the mysterious alien machine fused to Jaime’s back that supplies him with his Blue Beetle armor. The 2006 series also introduced Jaime’s supporting cast, including best friends Paco and Brenda, as well as establishing the scarab as an A.I. weapon created by the malevolent alien race known as The Reach.
Taking time off from writing “Blue Beetle” and his other September series “Green Lantern: New Guardians,” Bedard spoke with CBR News about Jaime, his plans for the Blue Beetle scarab and his love of the 2006 “Blue Beetle” book.
CBR News: How connected will the new “Blue Beetle” book be to the first “Blue Beetle” series? Will Jaime retain his supporting cast and origin, or are you starting with a blank slate?
Tony Bedard: I’m a big fan of Jaime’s last series, so I’m not looking to lose the things I loved about it. Thus, Jaime’s family will remain the same, his best friends will still be Paco and Brenda, etc. He’s still in El Paso, his bugsuit was created by The Reach and so on. This is definitely the same Blue Beetle that has quickly become the most successful new character from DC in years. However, that last series launched in the midst of a very complex crossover, “Infinite Crisis,” and was very much tied into the continuity of two previous Blue Beetles. That sort of thing can make it hard for casual readers to get on board. So we’ll reintroduce Jaime in a way that keeps what you loved about him but streamlines any needless distractions. I mean, I love Ted Kord, too, but at least at the beginning this series is all about Jaime.
Along those lines, will Booster Gold play a role in your series?
No Booster. Again, I want to establish Jaime as his own man, and when you bring in Booster you bring in the Ghost of Beetles Past. Doesn’t mean they won’t cross paths later, but not right away.
You said that Jaime Blue Beetle is one of DC’s “most successful” new characters. What do you think the reason for this success is?
Part of it was a great design by Cully Hamner and great writing by Keith Giffen and John Rogers. I used to get intimidated reading those John Rogers issues! Part of it is the appearances on “Brave & The Bold” and “Smallville.” He’s just a fun, accessible character with a great look.
To your mind, what makes Jaime different than the other teenage superheroes in the DCU?
That’s a tricky question, considering that all of our assumptions will be put to the test in September. What I can say is that Jaime’s situation is both a blessing and a curse. He’s just received what may be the most powerful weapon on the planet and it gives him the power to do a whole lot of good. But the alien armor he wears has a mind and a mission of its own, which is to conquer Earth for the aliens that sent it here. So Jaime has quite a double-edged sword to wield. He’s always having to keep the scarab armor from obliterating anyone and anything it deems a threat. He has all kinds of powerful folks coming after him for the armor. And in the midst of all this, he still wants to try to have some semblance of a normal life.
While the scarab is an alien A.I., over the course of the first series it had developed something of a personality of its own. With that in mind, how do you tackle the relationship between Jaime and the scarab?
This time around, I want to raise the stakes for Jaime, so his relationship with the scarab will be a little more adversarial. It’s a killing machine and it’s not going to be that easy to rein it in.
It’s interesting that you say that, as in the past using the scarab has also caused Jaime physical pain. Is this discomfort — both physical and mental — at using an alien killing machine to save people something that you really play with in the series?
Yeah, the armor was designed to take control of the host organism and wreak havoc on a global scale.Â But Jaime’s scarab was damaged and thus he’s able to assert control over it, though not easily. I want to play up how hard this is for Jaime, both from the pain and discomfort and from the armor’s continual desire to use lethal force. It would be easier for Jaime to just let the armor do its thing, but doing the right thing isn’t supposed to be easy.
Going along with that, we know the alien race the scarab comes from, the Reach, are going to be involved. Are you developing them as Jaime’s primary villains?
Yeah, we’ll definitely have the Reach involved — and a couple of Reach agents in particular will become major characters. And if I do my job right, they will come across as an even scarier, bigger threat than ever. I have lots of ideas for developing that threat, how they operate and so on. I want the Reach to be as lasting a presence in the DCU as the New Gods, the Dominators, the Qwardians and other classic cosmic adversaries.
You’ve been one of the big architects for the Green Lantern books over the last year, and in the previous “Blue Beetle” series there was a connection between the scarab/Reach and the Lanterns. Does this mean we should expect to see Guy Gardner or the other Lanterns popping into the book?
We set up that Green Lantern/Reach rivalry in the first issue, and it will definitely play a part as the series goes on. In fact, I want to make more of that than we saw in the previous series.
You’re a writer who most DC Comics fans would associate almost exclusively with the “Green Lantern” books. What made you want to write “Blue Beetle?”
The previous “Blue Beetle” series was generally the first book I read when my comp copies would arrive. When Eddie offered me the chance to bring him back, I jumped at it.
Jaime and Kyle (who you are writing in “New Guardians”) are characters who are both optimistic and atypical heroes — after all, Jaime’s a kid and Kyle is an artist. As the writer, do you find there’s a lot of similarity between the two?
I actually hadn’t thought about it until now, but they would probably get along nicely — aside from Jaime’s bugsuit trying to kill Kyle, that is. Maybe I should make sure those two meet!
Sounds like we’ve just created a new crossover event. Got a better title for it than my “Infinite Blue Beetles on Kyle Rayner’s Earth?”
Bwa-ha-ha-ha! No, wait — wrong Beetle!
Finally, what is it like working with artists Ig Guara and Ruy Jose?
I can’t say enough good things about them. Ig really nails the action and the sci-fi elements while imbuing his characters with loads of personality. He’s the best sort of cartoonist and I get excited by every new batch of pages.
“Blue Beetle” #1 hits stores September 21