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Blue Beetle: A Failure in Comics, A Star on TV?

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If the sweet-tweets of DC Comics Chief Creative Officer/prolific-writer-superhero-architect-guru-man Geoff Johns are to be trusted, then DC's current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, is primed to up his stock in the television world. In addition to becoming a big star on the amazing cartoon version of the Dark Knight, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Blue Beetle is reportedly set for a live-action series that is currently shooting test footage of the transformation sequence into his costume.

Based on Jaime's insane popularity boost from Brave and the Bold (he'll be appearing in most of the new episodes), it's a pretty wise move on the part of DC/WB to give the character more exposure. The funny thing is, ever since his debut during Infinite Crisis, the new Beetle has struggled to get over with comic audiences. It's one of those strange cases where the character has a passionate fanbase but no sales to back it up. The Blue Beetle ongoing series began in 2006 and ran for 36 issues before it was canned. Of course, fans screamed bloody murder but despite its critically acclaimed status, Blue Beetle was put to rest just after the character made his debut in Brave and the Bold.

Jaime Reyes isn't the first character to be in such a position (Manhunter, Catwoman, the Ryan Choi Atom all come to mind), but he's unique in that if this live-action show pulls through and is a success, he'll be one of the only mainstream superheroes to find more success in another medium than his originating one. It's an interesting situation because the decision to axe the Blue Beetle ongoing series was likely made long before the character became a runaway hit on Brave and the Bold.

Perhaps if there had been more of an overlap, the series would have seen a decent spike in sales from kids seeking more Jaime goodness. If a live-action TV show is indeed successful, I think it's a safe bet that DC will launch a new series in some form, but just as the Smallville comics did before it, it won't last much longer than the initial launch. Of course, there is no solid evidence that links a successful TV show or movie to increased comic sales.

             

      

There's always the possibility that Jaime's popularity will never reach the same level of success in print. I honestly can't think of another DC character that has been in that type of situation, short of characters originally created for television like Chloe Sullivan or the Wonder Twins. The comics industry seems to have a strange history with being unable to capitalize on these situations comfortably. If you look at the two major publishers, DC and Marvel, they both have two different strategies that wield arguably the same results.

DC relies on moviegoers/TV viewers to find their way into their current publications with little-to-no attempt at creating an easy "in". Most recently, they've done better with things like Jonah Hex: No Way Back and Joker, but there are still many missed opportunities - such is the case with Blue Beetle. On the other hand, Marvel overdoes it. When a movie is on its way to theaters, suddenly we see the titular character on every cover with a multitude of one-shots, mini-series and sudden placement at the center of the Marvel Universe (Tony Stark, cough). While their intent is to give potential readers options, it can be intimidating to sift through and know where to start. Just as importantly, this approach can piss off longtime readers to no end.

It remains to be seen where Jaime Reyes' fate lies, but if I was a betting man I'd say that any live-action series, if positioned correctly within the stable of DC TV, will be a smash hit with kids. It'll be an interesting thing to watch how DC responds to its success or failure this second time around, especially under its new DC Entertainment infrastructure.

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Comments

  • Jason Wilkins

    Jason Wilkins Jun 18, 2010 at 7:38pm

    This has been a character that has been so mishandled over the years, that I hope they finally get it right. Ted Kord's death while it pissed a lot of people off, was unfortunately (in my books - and he's one of my favorite characters!) one of his best moments. I wasn't a big fan of Jaime Reyes at first but I've grown to really like him. It's just a shame that a character with such a rich history has been so misused over the years. From Garret to Kord to Reyes, Blue Beetle encompasses such a long range of comics history, that it boggles my mind why he doesn't stand closer to the top of the DC pantheon.

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