Monday, December 26, 2011

"The End" Week: Blue Beetle #24!

Ted wore a lot of outfits that made the Beetle outfit look prime.
It's the end of the year, so it's time for our third annual "The End" week, where we look at last issues of a variety of books. Some went too soon, others were taken out back behind the woodshed and put out of everyone's misery, and some were cancelled and relaunched. (And possibly more than that: the theme this year seems to be if something was good enough to get cancelled once, it should get cancelled three or four more times.) It didn't occur to me until some time later, that I probably could've bought the last issues, pre-52 relaunch, of a ton of DC books and called it good, but nah.

I'll keep an eye on it, but please excuse any repetition: some of this week's posts were written all at once, a couple might be leftover from last year, and some as I happened to find them. We've got at least seventeen last issues lined up already, so stay tuned!

Today, a book I was reading at least occasionally, but wasn't there for the last issue: from 1988, Blue Beetle #24, "If at first, you don't succeed...!" Written by Len Wein, pencils by Don Heck, embellishment by Danny Bulanadi. Although Beetle was popular in JLI, like his pal Booster he wasn't able to carry a solo book as well. Which is a shame, since in JLI Beetle would eventually become almost a parody of himself, here he was competent, if unspectacular, not unlike the book itself.

This issue is a very bad day for Ted Kord: his dad shows up to take back control of Kord, Inc. I'm not sure Thomas Kord had been mentioned before, or since, and I'm 90% sure Beetle's creator Steve Ditko would've had Ted build his company up from nothing. Although Ted points out he "rebuilt this company from the little hole-in-the-wall research operation you left behind, into a major multi-national conglomerate," his secretary/terrible love interest Melody tattled to his dad about his reoccurring disappearances, to become Blue Beetle.

Meanwhile, Carapax, the indestructible man...y'know, he's just a big robot. I think he was created by Ted's evil uncle, and the old Blue Beetle died stopping him; until an archaeologist dug it up then transferred his consciousness to it. Ted had dumped him in the ocean a couple issues back, but the robot merely walked to Chicago, following a bug planted on the Bug, Beetle's airship.

Carapax demolishes Ted's secret hideout, then most of Kord Industries. Beetle drops a building on him, but even that doesn't stop him. Finally, Carapax attacks Beetle in the Bug, but Ted sets course over Lake Michigan, arms the self-destruct, and bails out; sacrificing the Bug to finally blow up Carapax. Returning to the wreckage of Kord, Inc, Ted as much as tells his dad and Melody to cram it, leaving Chicago behind. Apparently, Ted didn't have the traditional executive 'golden parachute' either, since he would be consistently broke for the next few years of JLI. (It's funnier that way.)
Forget executive compensation, Beetle needs an actual parachute here...
Perhaps unintentionally, it seems whenever Blue Beetle wasn't treated as a joke, and was heroic and effective, something terrible would happen. We'll be getting to Countdown to Infinite Crisis at some point on 80-page Thursdays...I'm not looking forward to it.


SallyP said...

I'm not sure that I can handle competent Ted.

Luis Olavo Dantas said...

That is a key reason why I never warmed up to the DeMatteis / Giffen JL. It harmed the characters' credibility and charactreization quite badly.

Nothing is less similar to Booster Gold than his depiction at JLI. Same for Blue Beetle. And most anyone really.