REVIEW: Convergence: Blue Beetle #1-2

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Full disclosure…I have no idea about what has been going on with DC’s Convergence crossover. But, as a long time Justice League International fan, this was something that would be right up my alley. Oh yeah, and it has Ted Kord alive.

For most of this two-part mini series, we get the Justice League International fighting Kingdom Come‘s Justice League. The two Justice Leagues are pretty much fighting for the survival of their universe. It’s exactly what you would expect from a comic book with alternate reality versions of the same characters fighting each other.

It’s pretty much up to JLI and Kingdom Come Ted Kord to save everyone. From that point, the rest pretty much falls into place. And that they do. They are super heroes, after all.

For an event comic, Convergence: Justice League International just wasn’t eventful. It’s hard justifying to myself that I spent $8 on these two issues. But, as a Blue Beatle fan, at least it was a Ted-centric story. I would pretty much recommend this to anyone who is a Blue Beetle completist.

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Young Justice: Salvage

Thanks to actually having a Saturday off, this was the first time in a while I had a chance to watch Young Justice. So what’s going on? Honestly, i have no idea. But thanks to being a long-time DC reader, I’ve been able to pull it together.

Superboy and Blue Beetle went off to stop Intergang, an intergalactic gang that’s been smuggling weapons from Apokolips to Earth. Therbe is a pretty interesting dynamic between the two, with Superboy being the senior member of the group, pretty much treating Beetle like he’s just a kid.

I really liked how they modified the scarab that powers Blue Beetle, having it been a sentient nano-tech armor that Ted Kord created instead of being some relic from an alien civilization. It also looked like the two of them were flying around on the Forever People’s Super Cycle and that Krypto the Kryptonian hound is now some sort of wolf.

Apparently there has been a clone of Speedy running around all these years, and he’s going through a bit of identity crisis.The real Speedy has been long dead/vanished, and the one that everyone has known and grown up with is the clone. And Clone Speedy is not happy finding that out. The episode ends with Clone Speedy’s “wife” Cheshire informing them that he has to get his act together because they have a daughter. Hopefully things will wind up better for this Jade.

This show also drops a lot of references to STAR Labs and Project Cadmus. Between that and Intergang playing a prominent role, it really felt like I was reading early 1990s Superman comics.

It also looks like they have DC animated shorts in between the main show featuring super lame hero Vibe dancing his way into a Super Friends-style clip. I wonder if that was for the parents watching or hardcore comic fans.

Anyway, I think I’m going to make sure I DVR this show. Best part of this review…I got it up about three minutes after the show ended. Go me.

Happy Birthday Steve Ditko

Today we celebrate the 84th birthday of one of comics legend Steve Ditko! The ever-elusive creator of Spider-Man enjoys his privacy and probably wouldn’t want us to acknowledge his birth, but that won’t stop us from talking about some of his best contributions to comics!

Let’s look at some of Ditko’s better known creations.

You can’t argue that Spider-Man isn’t Ditko’s most successful project. Here’s a clip from an interview with Stan Lee where he talks about what he feels was Ditko’s best work from their run on Amazing Spider-Man.

Ditko’s run on Spidey was semi autobiographical

Over at DC, Ditko created the super hero brother duo Hawk and Dove. One peace-loving, the other war mongering, the Hall brothers made their first appearance in June 1968’s Showcase #75. Dial B for Blog has a great account of their creation.

Ditko also created the Creeper, an outspoken talk show host who moonlights as a psychotic super hero. Simply put, the Creeper is insane. HyperDave at Data Junkie put together a great retrospective of Ditko’s run.

Also during this run at DC, Ditko created Shade the Changing Man, a new Starman and the Stalker. I’m not going to go too much into them, as I really haven’t been exposed to them enough.

During this time, Ditko did some phenomenal stuff over at Charlton, creating the original Captain Atom and the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle, both of which became key staples in DC’s Justice League International books. He also created reporter turned faceless vigilante the Question. Eric Newsom runs an invaluable resource on the character, filled with analysis, interviews and commentary about the faceless hero.

Ditko went on to create a more hardline, Ayn Rand influenced version of the Question called Mr. A. The great people at Dial B for Blog have a much better description of the character.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; there’s much more non-super hero work in his bibliography. Keep in mind, Ditko’s career began in 1953, and he’s still creating stuff to this day. He remains super elusive and doesn’t give interviews. If you would like more information about Ditko’s career, there was a great book Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko that chronicles his career, as well as the BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko. You can find clips on YouTube.

On a final Ditko note, when you research his works and his life its hard to miss mentions of the influence of philosopher Ayn Rand. At one point, he even pitched adapting her novel Atlas Shrugged to Marvel. So in a bit of Ditko magic, my work day began with me taking a pile of Rand’s books–including Atlas Shrugged–from the free book pile in the staff room. I think its fitting; if Ditko had a birthday party, I’m sure that would be his party favor of choice.

 

 

30 Things I Like About Comics—#1 Justice League International

We’ve done it. We’ve gotten to one of my–if not the favorite–things in comics, the Justice League International. So how did a group of B and C list super heroes capture my heart?

Writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis gave this motley crew such great personalities. Just look at some of them. Booster Gold was a greedy, scheming George Costanza type, but had the looks and self confidence to make it work. His best friend Blue Beetle was always cracking jokes, but secretly had low seelf esteem in regards to his appearance.
Fire was a Brazillian sex pot and her best friend Ice was a bit socially conservative.
Guy Gardner was the prototypical dumb jock and was stuck with an idiot would-be sidekick in G’nort. Power Girl and Black Canary were super feminists. Elongated Man and his wife Sue were the obnoxious cute couple. Maxwell Lord was like Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny, but more of a tool. And these were just the primary characters.

The best part of this book was how they were able to intertwine the JLI’s personal lives and problems equally with the crime fighting and world saving stories. The book may have been silly at times, but you would always be more interested in what was going on between the characters then what diabolical scheme they were stopping.

You remember the time that Booster and Beetle tried to open a vacation resort on the living island Kooey Koeey Kooey. You remember Guy’s awkward first date with Ice. Or when Batman finally had enough and punched Guy out. Just fun stuff.

I thin that’s why many readers, and myself personally, had such a hard time with the whole mid 2000s DC, where it seemed that JLI characters were being killed left and right. Sue Dibny’s death was the plot device in Identity Crisis (and later on Elongated Man got killed off). Maxwell Lord turned uber-villain and murdered Blue Beetle. Rocket Red bit the dust in OMAC Project. Saying the last decade was rough is an understatement. It sucks seeing your favorite characters getting knocked off left and right.

But I’m really excited for the fall, with a new book featuring JLI coming after Flashpoint. It’s written by Dan Jurgens, who not only worked on JLI back in the day but also created Booster Gold. I can’t wait!