Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WORD OF THE DAY! 12/21/11

reimagining [ree-ih-maj-jin-ing]
1. a piece of work based primarily on a work of the same medium; a remake.

EX. The Blue Beetle  has seen as many, if not more, reiterations and reimaginings as most well-known super heroes. Like the last character I talked about last week, Blue Beetle's pal Booster Gold, Blue Beetle is no where near the same tier of popularity as heroes like Superman-- hell, he isn't even on the same tier of popularity as one of my favorite characters, Green Lantern. Yet, Blue Beetle does share one special trait with Green Lantern; both characters are Golden Age heirloom characters that have changed and evolved to become a Comic Book Guy's comic book character.

Let's start with the first iteration of our blue buddy in 1939's Fox Comics' Mystery Men Comics #1. (Side note: If you enjoy campy super hero action check out The Mystery Men movie). The first Blue Beetle was a guy by the name of Dan Garret, the son of a cop killed off by a crook. Dan Garret was a rookie cop who took on the guise of the Blue Beetle to fight crime He wore a special bullet proof vest and took a special vitamin "2-X" that gave him super-strength. He bounced around from company to company, until he ended up in Charlton comics where, eventually, he was reimagined into Ted Kord.

Originally, they tried to reboot Dan Garret by adding a "t" to the end of his name and making him an archeologist, but the Blue Beetle that most fans think of is Ted Kord. Created by Steve Ditko, Ted Kord was a genius inventor and a gifted athlete. He originally had no powers and his signature equipment was an insect themed hover-craft and a light gun that blinded his foes. (Side Note: This character was the inspiration for Owl Man of The Watchmen). This Blue Beetle eventually became part of DC canon and asserted himself as a great member of the Justice League. There he met and befriended Booster Gold.

Yet, Ted Kord became the victim of something I like to call UDS or  "Unnecessary Death Syndrome". UDS is one of the easiest failings of writing, especially in ensemble casts, and is extremely common in the comic book genre. UDS comes into play when an editor wants to ramp up the stakes of a comic book cross-over or event. Usually, they kill off a lot of D-List characters and even a few big names to create a sense that all the characters are in danger of some new threat and, most likely, to sell more comics. Don't get me wrong-- comic books are a business, BUT there are other ways to sell comics. I actually don't mind killing off characters, but they deserve to be given a hero's death. At least in Death of Superman, Superman 'died' fighting to save Metropolis from Doomsday.

In order to kick-off the Infinite Crisis event, Ted Kord tracks down a reborn Checkmate, an anti-super hero organization. He is captured and discovers that long time associate of the Justice League, Maxwell Lord, is behind a plot to control the super human populace. He asks Ted to join him and the hero replies, "Rot in Hell, Max," before being unceremoniously shot in the face like a dog. This "shot heard around the DC world". This also leads to Wonder Woman's reputation getting thrown under the bus when she kills Maxwell Lord at the end of Infinite Crisis. Boo!

BUT, Blue Beetle's character wasn't over and his next iteration would be a mix between Iron Man and Spiderman!
The entity known as The Scarab, a blue machine discovered by Dan Garrett, managed to make its way to a young man in El Paso, Texas. That young man was Jaime Reyes. Jaime Reyes was only a teenager when he found The Scarab. Unsure of what the object would do, Booster Gold tried to find it but, when he arrived, it was too late. The Scarab fused with Jaime's spine and transformed him into a new Blue Beetle. This reimagining gave its hero super strength, flight, energy projection, and so much more. It also opened him up to new alien enemies for him to contend with and, in a lot of ways, these powers have turned Blue Beetle into a real contender in the universe's rosters. Heck, Jaime was one of Batman's most frequent companions on The Brave and the Bold.

And where does the Blue Beetle go from here? Well, the character just rebooted, yet again, alongside many characters of the DC Universe in The 52 event. Jaime Reyes is still the current hero in the legacy of Blue Beetle and, arguably, the character is more popular than ever. In fact, talks have been bouncing around for either Blue Beetle to get its own TV show or movie. Only time will tell if this Beetle can survive in a market where Green Lantern's film reimagining was a mediocre failure.

All that glitters is not gold, but this character is a true blue hero!

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