The post-Rebirth Blue Beetle title has an interesting needle to thread. On the one hand, Ted Kord is back among the living, having never been murdered by Maxwell Lord. It’s not exactly the young version of Ted that was introduced at the end of Forever Evil, but one that more closely resembles the Justice League International character. It’s exciting to have Ted back, particularly given how ignominious his previous removal was. At the same time, though, there’s still Jaime Reyes, a popular character in his own right and certainly the more media-recognizable version of Blue Beetle. I fully admit that most of what I know about Jaime is from his frequent appearances on the Batman: The Brave & The Bold cartoon. Blue Beetle: Rebith, then, has to walk the fine line of celebrating Ted’s return while not disregarding the character that’s been Blue Beetle for the last 10 years. It’s a balancing act that is pulled off to varying degrees of success.
Writer Keith Giffen is no stranger to Blue Beetles, having famously written Ted along with the rest of the JLI in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, as well as having helped launch Jaime’s solo title post-Infinite Crisis in 2006. Here Giffen makes the Beetles Kord and Reyes a ‘Birds of Prey’-style team, with Ted talking into Jaime’s ear to tell him what to do and Jaime generally complaining the whole time. It’s a fun dynamic, though it does wear somewhat thin as the issue goes on. As an establishment of the characters and their relationship, though, it’s entertaining. A replay of the scene between the two characters from the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot is also welcome for those readers who may have forgotten Dr. Fate’s appearance and accompanying cryptic warning for Ted. The overall pace of the issue is somewhat slow, as there’s quite a bit of establishing to do for the characters (both main and supporting) and the threats, but it does that establishment well enough that future issues shouldn’t be weighted down by it.
Scott Kolins is an artist that I’ve really enjoyed ever since his run on The Flash back in the early 2000s, and his work on Blue Beetle: Rebirth is as solid as ever. There’s a dynamism to his linework that really gets to shine during Jaime’s battle with the issue’s villains, a couple of costumed nobodies named Rack and Ruin. The way he draws Jaime’s Blue Beetle, in particular, is frankly kind of frightening. He looks like a monster, his fingers sharpened into claws, the design on his mask giving him permanently arched eyebrows, and his chin coming to an unnatural point. It’s a great look that adds an interesting level of menace to the character. He also looks more like a bug than I think I’ve ever seen him look before. Kolins also tackles the task of updating Ted Kord’s classic ship, The Bug, which he does nicely with some small tweaks that, while not drastically different from how it once looked, still help distinguish the new ship from the old.
If Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1 is any indication, the new Blue Beetle series has a lot of potential to be one of the more fun titles to come out of the Rebirth initiative. Giffen and Kolins put in some entertaining work on this issue, with the promise of more to come. Here’s hoping this book can get its few kinks out and deliver on that promise.