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Blue Beetle (Book 1): Shellshocked Paperback – December 6, 2006
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While I enjoy the more sophisticated comics now available, it's hard to find mainstream titles appropriate for younger readers. With the arrival of the new Blue Beetle, there is now a book I can enthusiastically endorse.
Jaime Reyes is the third hero to be called the Blue Beetle, a good kid who is thrust into a world of superheroics that he is entirely unprepared for. For decades afer his debut in 1962, Peter Parker hid his activities as Spider-Man from his Aunt May for fear of giving her a heart attack. In contrast, Jaime reveals his secret early on to his family and friends. Their reaction is believable: there's a good deal of freaking out involved, but being family, they find a way to support each other through the inevitable complications.
Cully Hamner's art is excellent, and the writing by Keith Giffen and John Rogers features great action, interesting plots, smart dialogue, and well-realized characters.
I only hold back one star because there are so many references to characters and events in the larger world of DC Comics that may be confusing to readers new to comics in general.
During the INFINITE CRISIS, the Blue Beetle scarab found young Jaime Reyes for its new champion and with the scarab's help he assisted Batman and the other superheroes. This book, BLUEBEETLE: SHELLSHOCKED picks up right where INFINITE CRISIS ended.
BLUE BEETLE is one of those "smart" books that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. This is a fun book about a teenager with superpowers and anyone who is a teenager or has ever been a teenager will get into it.
There were parts that made me laugh: like the dynamic between Jaime, his sister, and his mother. It reminded me of my family growing up.
And there were parts that really got me choked up, like the reaction of his mother upon Jaime's return. Or when the Blue Beetle says, "I don't care about being a superhero but this is a baby. I'm not letting anyone hurt a baby."
And there is some incredible action. The book opens with a fight in the desert between one of the Green Lanterns and Blue Beetle. And the fight on the freeway involving Blue Beetle, Peacemaker and a psychotic demon is gripping.
But what really sends this book over the top is the relationship between characters. Everyone of them is very real and complex. Jaime has a real family, real friends, and real villains. La Dama, his arch-nemisis in the book, is no 2-dimensional bad guy.
Anyone who considers himself or herself a fan of comics but isn't reading this title is really missing out. I bought a copy for myself and a couple more for my nephews.
Very fun. good for ages 12 and up. Not overly violent. Very little profanity if any at all.
BUT when I opened the box I found a rather large corner of the cover had been folded over. Luckily I'm not TOO picky about my comics though I was tempted to send it back.
On the other hand, this book is Exhibit A on why the whole One Year later approach where heroes disappeared for a year--was such a bad idea. In this book, it's darn confusing and despite it being early in the character's run, you feel like you need to go out and buy Infinite Crisis to figure out what's going on. And for book that contains only six issues-there was a lot going on in here. It really struggled with tone. What type of book was this going to be? Dark and mythic? Or light teen superhero? More teen angst?
In the end, both the book and character show promise but whether it will be worth continuing is an iffy question.