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This week’s issue of Blue Beetle crosses over with the current “Sinestro War” storyline which is taking place in the Green Lantern books. If you are a fan of that event and are not currently picking up Blue Beetle, you absolutely must pick up this issue.

Why, you may ask? Is it because something vital to crossover is going to happen in this issue? No. There might be some crucial piece of information you must know to fully enjoy the Sinestro War or there might not. No, the main reason why you should pick up Blue Beetle tomorrow is because it is one of the best books on the market today.

Blue Beetle sprung out from the pages of Infinite Crisis. The previous Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, was killed by Maxwell Lord. The object that gave the Beetles their power, a blue scarab, found its way to a Mexican-American teenager named Jaime Reyes. The scarab merged with Reyes and turned him into the brand new Blue Beetle.

The new Blue Beetle series started off strong, but faded over its first year. Sales dropped over 33,000 copies from issue #1 to issue #13. The most recent issues have dropped below the 20,000 copy sales plateau and it consistently ranks outside the top 100 books each month. This is dangerous territory for any book, as those numbers usually add up to cancellation.

DC is trying to give the title a boost. The crossover with the Sinestro Corps War is only the latest effort the company has used to try a shore up the floundering title. A recent guest appearance by the Teen Titans has led to the Blue Beetle joining that team. Sales on that title are far greater than sales on Blue Beetle, and I’m sure DC is hoping for a little spill over of readership between the titles. On top of that, the character recently made an appearance in DC’s best-selling Brave & Bold title, giving the Beetle a little more exposure.

Back in December, I placed Blue Beetle on my list of titles that you should make a point of picking up. If anything, the series has gotten stronger since that time. It has found its legs and has become comfortable in its style.

Many comparisons have been made between the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle and the Peter Parker Spider-Man, mostly because of their ages and their deep sense of responsibility. This might lead you to believe that the series is a typical teenager with powers story. It’s not.

John Rogers plays with comic book conventions, challenging what readers might expect. Instead of Jaime’s identity being secret, everyone of his supporting cast knows it—his family, his friends, and even his potential arch-enemy, the crimelord known as La Dama, are all aware of who the Blue Beetle really is.

The title also features a great mix of all-out action and laugh-out-loud humor, two qualities that are hard to mix with any success. The series also features richly developed characters from the lead all the way down and, as a result, has a lot of heart. These attributes make Blue Beetle, in my opinion, one of the best superhero books on the market today, and one I wish more people were reading.

I am glad that DC is actively trying to bring new readers in. This crossover with the popular Sinestro Corps War event could be just what this title needs. Not a forced, unnatural one either. The nature of the Scarab has been changed. Instead of a mystical relic that gives its owner great power, it has been revealed that the Scarab is instead a weapon put on Earth by the alien race known as The Reach. It is supposed to give its owner powers up to the point where The Reach are ready to invade. Then, the Scarab will co-opt the free will of its user and make him a soldier in The Reach’s plans for conquest.

One of the major plotlines through the series so far is the history of animosity between The Reach and the Green Lantern Corps. Naturally, these two forces would be in direct opposition to each other, so much so that whenever the Blue Beetle is near a Green Lantern, both the Scarab and the GL’s rings consider each other a threat.

Taking that into consideration, it’s no surprise that Sinestro has come to earth looking to make the Blue Beetle a member of the Sinestro Corps. Until now, Jaime Reyes has held the upper hand over the Scarab’s pre-determined programming. But this offer might upset that dominance. Whatever the case, it seems like it will be an interesting struggle and prove to be another great story in a great series.

Also out this week:

She-Hulk 2 #22:

It’s the closest thing that comics and professional sports will ever have in common, as Marvel “trades” writers on two of its most popular characters. Peter David leaves the now cancelled Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man to take over She-Hulk. He replaces Dan Slott, who is becoming part of the writing team on the revamped Amazing Spider-Man.

Fans expecting more of the same from David as he steps in will be disappointed. While he is a writer adept at adding humor to whatever title he works on, She-Hulk will shift from comedic stories to more serious ones. If anybody besides Peter David were taking over, I would consider this move to be a mistake. But David is one of the best writers working in comics today. This means that while the stories will no longer be light and humourous, they still will be good.

Peter David (W), Shawn Moll (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Gotham Underground #1:

As anyone who has been reading Countdown can attest, many of DC’s major villains have been collected by the Suicide Squad and sent off planet. Many of the victims are from Batman’s rogue gallery. No other character is as defined by his villains as is Batman. How will you address these disappearances in the Batman universe when the main bat-books are soon to be involved in major storyline?

By starting a separate miniseries to deal with it, of course. I consider this an excellent move by DC. It always irks the continuity-geek in me when an event that should affect a particular character is glossed over in the character’s main books. This series allows the impact of the Joker and other Bat-baddies being exiled to be felt on Batman and his supporting cast without interrupting the editorial plans for the main titles.  

Frank Tieri (W), J. Calafiore (A), DC Comics, $2.99, Eight-IssueMiniseries.

Crawl Space: XXXombies #1:

Crawl Space is a new anthology series which wants to uphold the traditions of the classic EC horror books of the 1950s, most notably Tales From the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Terror. But what was shocking in the 50s is passé today, and horror comics are everywhere. You need to amp up the shock value somewhat. And the creators of the first arc have done just that.

The first storyline takes place in 1977 and follows a group of “adult stars” who emerge from a weeklong shoot to find themselves trapped inside a zombie-infested, quarantined Los Angeles. What type of “adult stars”? Well, the three X’s in the title should give you some indication to that. Porn and Zombies, I wonder what Wertham would say about that?

Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer, and Tony Moore (W), Kieron Dwyer(A), Image Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.  

The Authority: Prime #1:

Christos Gage’s recent run on Stormwatch: PHD was critically acclaimed, but far from a financial success. The title has no other issues scheduled after this month’s issue #12. But the themes and plot points raised in the series will be followed up on in this series starring the popular team, The Authority.

The Stormwatch team, devoted to keeping humanity safe from super-humans, have discovered a secret bunker in the Southwestern United States. What lies inside the bunker could tip the balance in humanity’s favor. But The Authority have other ideas. They wish to use the contents of the bunker to mold the world into their own vision of perfection. Who will get to the bunker first, and will what’s inside be of any use to either of them?

Christos Gage (W), Darick Robertsom (A), DC/Wildstorm, $2.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Velocity: Pilot Season #1:

Top Cow’s Pilot Season experiment continues, and now it’s CyberForce’s youngest member Velocity’s turn in the spotlight. And if I were a betting man, based purely on the creators involved, I’d say this series is the odds on favorite to be picked up.

Of course, I’m just biased. Joe Casey caught my eye with his work on Adventures of Superman, Uncanny X-Men, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Fantastic Four: First Family. And Kevin Maguire’s legendary work on Justice League for DC has made me wish that he did more comics work. If this will be the team for the series, I may have to vote for the title sight unseen. My confidence in their abilities is that strong.

Joe Casey (W), Kevin Maguire (A), Top Cow Productions, $2.99. One-Shot.

Foolkiller #1:

Remember when I said a few weeks ago, when Omega the Unknown and Howard the Duck hit the shelves that it was “Let’s irritate Steve Gerber week” at Marvel? Make that “month” as another Gerber creation, Foolkiller, makes his return to comics. And, like the others, he is not written by Gerber.

It is instead written by Los Angeles Times best-selling author, Gregg Hurwitz. His work in crime fiction makes him a natural for writing one of Marvel’s sickest vigilantes. Whereas the Punisher kills criminals as quickly and as efficiently as he can, the Foolkiller has made violent retribution into an artform. His punishments fit the crimes in the most gory and artistic ways possible. He is not one to tolerate fools lightly.

  Gregg Hurwitz (W), Lan Medina (A), MAX/Marvel Comics, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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