The over-burdened cover to “Blue Beetle” #16 depicts a really pissed off and pumped up Blue Beetle sprouting from the noggin of the Red Skull. Unless, of course, you’ve been reading “Blue Beetle” then you know that the Red Skull-looking guy is really Sky Witness and that Marcio Takara joins Tony Bedard to wrap up the adventures of Jaime Reyes in “Blue Beetle” #16, bringing the Sky Witness saga to a close while kicking open a whole new door.
Unfortunately, Takara’s artwork in “Blue Beetle” #16 is some of the least complete-feeling art that I can recall seeing from him. It’s not bad, but some of the story beats are not as strong due to the sketchy quality of Takara’s lines. Occasionally, colorist Pete Pantazis seems to be relied upon to round out the visuals, extending Takara’s drawings to complete the motion of the story. Other points in the issue, Pantazis turns up the saturation in his palette, playing the alien landscapes into extreme levels. Overall the visuals of this issue carry a rushed appearance, which doesn’t hinder the story, but it doesn’t do much to enhance the reader’s experience either.
Combined with the cumulative change in Jaime’s power usage and the incomplete, open-ended nature of the farewells bid in this issue, “Blue Beetle” #16 seems like a half-hearted attempt. Bedard writes believable teenage characters, proving as much on the first page by seeding this issue with the flashback to a happier time when Jaime could look at stars with his pals Brenda and Paco. Unfortunately, what starts off as the next chapter in the life of Jaime Reyes becomes a thinly-disguised advertisement for “Threshold.” For those who have not picked up the first issue of “Threshold,” the notion behind the lead story in that comic is a concept not unlike “The Running Man.” Jaime might stand out on such a platform, but that’s another review for another title some other day.
DC has given the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle more than a few chances at securing a reading audience, but so far has not been able to sustain readership. While I am not certain that adding Jaime to a lesser-known and extremely new property like “Threshold” is the right idea to help raise public awareness of such a fun character, I certainly cannot fault DC for their lack of effort in testing new avenues to expose this character to wider audiences. The second volume of the adventures of Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle ends not with a bang, but a slow fade and a “To Be Continued. . .” plug for another title. Of the seventeen issues this series has had, it’s a shame the final one is the most disappointing.