Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blue Beetle Blues

In his recent "The Buy Pile" at Comic Book Resources, Hannibal Tabu comments that the latest issue of Blue Beetle is the penultimate one. While I haven't read the series, its cancellation saddens me for three distinct reasons:

1. As Hannibal explains, the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, is one of the few "ethnic" heroes offered by one of the major comic book companies, not to mention a Hispanic hero. In a medium where the Latino community is often exploited as "gangstas" for action-oriented fodder, Jaime's potential will be sorely missed.

2. Jaime is the first Blue Beetle to receive so much mainstream exposure! His frequent appearances in Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and the Bold (kudos for admitted geek and favorite blogger Wil Wheaton for his performance as Ted Kord last week), and the subsequent action figures, have made the Beetle a household name, relatively speaking! Remember, I work with kids (85% of whom are Hispanic, to boot), and they know who the Blue Beetle is! Of course, this doesn't inspire them to buy his comic at $2.99 a pop . . . not when they can get six bags of Hot Cheetos for just as much.

3. Every time a second-stringer's solo title get cancelled, I remember and lament some of my own favorite B-listers, like Marvel's Cloak and Dagger, or Batman's wayward teen-aged nemesis Anarky (whose recent appearance in Robin seemed to deviate from the character I remember, though I like the new threads . . .). Beetle's thirty-six issues make up a remarkable run for a character of his stature, it seems, especially since his third-generation alter ego is a name unfamiliar to longtime readers. When will DC and Marvel finally exclusively concentrate on their core properties, the ones with mainstream potential and decades' long history? Just kill off everyone else in some crazy cosmic crisis, already -- it's not like you haven't been doing that slowly in the past fifteen years, anyway.

Based on Hannibal's brief review, I've been missing out on a great series. Though I think Jaime will continue his adventures with the Teen Titans, the silver lining is the cancellation of Blue Beetle will inevitably condemn it to the quarter bins, where I can now collect the whole series for less than ten bucks! Take that, Seniors Barnes & Noble, with your graphic novel section!

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