Sunday, November 23, 2014


I wrote a piece for PopMatters last week about Ms. Marvel and how its star handles the many changes in her life in an exemplary fashion. That's a mighty fine series and an important one for many reasons. Go read it. This week I published my latest "1987 And All That" on Comics Should Be Good, looking at Blue Beetle #8-19, specifically focusing on its optimistic outlook. I enjoyed the heck out of that comic, and found myself wishing more modern series could find the balance between comedy and drama that Blue Beetle got so right. Certainly those books exist, but I feel like there's greater importance placed on the serious stuff these days, and less willingness to have some silly, simple fun. Flash Gordon is probably the closest current parallel I can think of.

Something I Failed to Mention
I zeroed in on Blue Beetle's propensity to use sympathetic or at least relatable villains, and it's true that most of the bad guys in the issues I read had some amount of likability. There were exceptions, the most obvious of which was Carapax, a super jerky guy whose mind gets zapped into a giant robot, making him even jerkier. I didn't see the initial introduction to this character in the issues I read (Wikipedia tells me he debuted in Blue Beetle #1) but I did watch him go from full human to human-mind-trapped-in-a-machine, essentially witnessing his origins as a supervillain, if not as a self-important ass. He was gratingly full of himself from the start, and soon as he gained any amount of power, he started murdering people mercilessly. So Carapax was a full-blown, clear-cut villain, with nothing redeeming about him in a single panel of what I read, a rare exception to the series' normal take on its antagonists. That said, the story of Beetle discovering and battling Carapax is also the story of him and police detective Lt. Fisher becoming friends instead of enemies. Fisher had problems with both the Beetle and his secret identity Ted Kord, but over the course of their fighting Carapax together, the two men managed to form something of an alliance. They're not best buds or anything, but they start to work together rather than against each other. Even when the main villain of an arc is a evil as they come, then, Blue Beetle shows its readers that not all opponents are bad, and that trusting in one another produces better results than the opposite approach, since Fisher and Beetle win in the end.

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