Blue Beetle is a character that has hung around comics history for a long time. He has an early history in the late 1930s and 1940s with Fox Comics and Charlton Comics. In 1983, along with most of Charlton Comics properties, the character rights were sold to DC Comics. The character has had a pretty interesting history that practically parallels the history of American comics. But this is not a history blog. I finally got my hands on a nice copy of DC Comics’ 1986 #1 issue of Blue Beetle. I got it for .50¢ and am totally thrilled with the purchase.
This iteration of Blue Beetle is the scientist Ted Kord. In this issue, we are introduced to the character as he leaves retirement to once again enter public service. Fires are being set in buildings all over downtown Chicago – and the Blue Beetle appears to deal with this problem. The writer for this issue is Len Wein; Paris Cullins and Bruce D. Patterson are the artists.
I love the way this issue begins. In fact, lately, I have been loving all pre-1990s comics. They have this depth in the writing that I feel is a little missing in current-day comics. I am not talking about the level of writing, really. I feel like these older (vintage?) comics have this wordsmithing knack to them. Sometimes it seems a little hokey, but sometimes, it’s almost poetic. That’s one of the main things that is really drawing my interest into these pre-1990s issues again and again.
Last night, as the household was lulling into sleep, I carefully pulled the issue from its plastic sleeve. I opened to the first page and fell in love with the first frame. How about that? I harp on the importance of the first issue, first book, etc. of all the things I read. Because I am a big believer of the first impression concept with these things. Authors/artists have to hook the reader. They have to make the reader care, be engaged, and show us competence. Lots of work for first issues. So look at the copy in the first frame – its poetic, I tell you.
Okay, maybe not great poetry, but nowadays the copy would read: “Lots of big fires are burning in Chicago.” I particularly like the “fugitive sparks” part. Awesome. Thank you, Len Wein.
The story is actually really good. Kord is a scientist entrepreneur who moonlights as Blue Beetle. He discovers that the arsonist isn’t just a criminal with a dim view of city planning, but an armored villain named Firefist. (Okay, maybe not the least goofy of names…) Anyway, in their first fight, Firefist gets away, but Blue Beetle makes plans to take Firefist on.
We get a little history of the previous Blue Beetle series, which is good. We meet a villain that seems really intense. We learn about Ted Kord’s double-life. And the banter between characters is witty and cute. Finally, you have to read the next issue – you want to and need to. This is an excellent comic. It really makes me love the character a lot. If you really want to dig into comics beyond the usual adoration for Batman and Superman, I think Blue Beetle might be for you.