While “Blue Beetle” #0 doesn’t break stride from the current storyline of this series, it does reveal both the origin of the scarab (designated Khaji-Da) and the scarab’s activities prior to fusing with Jaime Reyes. Additionally, Keith Giffen and Tony Bedard are able to loop in Reyes’ recent appearances in “Justice League International Annual” #1 as they prep a new storyline and countless potential adventures for Blue Beetle.
A product of “Final Crisis,” the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle has a second chance to win readers over with in this volume of “Blue Beetle.” DC seems determined to help this character succeed in the hearts and minds of fans, and this issue provides a logical introduction to Jaime and his predicament — the partnership he forges with Khaji-Da.
Tony Bedard, with a masterful assist from Keith Giffen, tells the story of Khaji-Da, from its formative days as an experimental weapon for the violently oppressive alien Reach Empire to its current status as source of Blue Beetle’s powers. Through the narrative of a history lesson told to Jaime by Khaji-Da, Giffen and Bedard even tie in Lady Styx from the popular “52” series and establish her infamous legend in the current DC Universe. Bedard’s and Giffen’s update to Styx at this point is surely indicative of things to come, providing enough of a tease to build anticipation.
A few Ig Guara and J. P. Mayer drawn collage pages rush through the circumstances of Khaji-Da’s most recent adventures to great effect. Those adventures have been more elaborately depicted throughout the pages of the “Blue Beetle” series to this point, but are nicely condensed here for new readers. Highlights of the compacted version include connections to the Green Lanterns and Justice League International, including the encounter with O.M.A.C. that set this story in motion.
Guara’s art is as enjoyable as ever. While this issue doesn’t focus on Jaime, Guara proves to be very masterful at adapting the scarab tech to a variety of beings and making the Reach-empowered characters strong and sturdy while remaining energetic and vital. The Earthbound Blue Beetle of the Mayan era, Sky Witness, appears similar to Jaime in scarab-powered form, there is certainly no mistaking one for the other. Guara applies distinct subtleties in the characters’ physiques and body language to provide the reader with enough cues to tell the two apart, regardless of the text on the page. Guara’s character work and storytelling have been a blessing to this series and are wonderfully displayed in this sample offering.
Steeped in the blues, this issue runs a terrible risk of becoming repetitive and dull in hue, but colorist Pete Pantazis drops in some fiery tones every so often to keep the book from being a complete production in cyan and blue. All the same, the printers certainly had to reorder cyan ink after this book ran through the press.
“Blue Beetle” #0 is a great spot to jump in, especially with what looks like a critical arc on the horizon. While this issue is largely a flashback tale of sorts it dips in and out of the story, allowing historical figures relevant to this series to breathe and move throughout the issue. There isn’t much from Jaime Reyes in this issue, but all of this leads to the final page which sets up a dire situation for Jaime to try to escape or defeat. I’ve been enjoying this series since it started. The stories are briskly paced and contribute to a larger narrative, and the upcoming adventure looks to be exciting and fun. There’s no mistaking that DC is trying guide this book to hit the same notes that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko sparked with the formative days of Spider-Man. Bedard, Giffen and Guara may not be matching that classic note for note, but the story is as close to that as anything else on the stands right now.