Title: “Fall of the Blue Beetle!”
Original Air Date: January 23, 2009
In my review of the first episode I expressed a desire to have the Ted Kord incarnation of the Blue Beetle in this series rather than Jaime Reyes, and in this episode my request was granted in the form of extensive flashback sequences. One of the key differences between DC and Marvel comics is the presence of many legacy characters with the hero’s mantle being passed down through generations, and this episode is a nice foray into that concepts for viewers who may be unfamiliar with that tradition.
The teaser for this episode takes place 2 years before the primary continuity of the series, and shows Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle battling along side the Dark Knight while infiltrating a ubiquitous villain’s lair staffed with many anonymous henchmen. We get to see Bats and Kord discuss the relative values of fighting crime with technology versus good old fashioned fisticuffs, with the duo reaching the conclusion that though technology is more efficient, ultimately fisticuffs are more fun.
The story proper begins with Jaime Reyes retelling the Green Lantern’s origin story to his ever present friend Paco, which ultimately devolves into a debate about whether heroes are chosen or simply the beneficiaries of good luck and Random coincidence. This leads Reyes (in his Blue Beetle persona) to seek the sage opinion of Batman. Reyes drops in on Bats while he is battling DC’s version of Magneto, Doctor Polaris. Batman doesn’t appear to appreciate the distraction, and after defeating Polaris he reveals to Jaime that he knew one of the previous incarnations of the Blue Beetle and preferred his company to that of Reyes. This leads Reyes into deeper existential crisis that results in his discovery that the previous Blue Beetle was the famous industrialist Ted Kord. While exploring Kord Industries headquarters Beetle 3 decides to travel to Kord’s last known location. When he arrives he is met by an older man who introduces himself as Ted Kord and has a plan to transform the world into a utopia free from suffering, but he needs the assistance of Jaime to bring the plan to fruition. Meanwhile we are treated to more flashback scenes of Batman and Kord battling a mysterious villain who is a robotic genius attempted to adapt the scarab that typically grants the power of the Blue Beetle to its wearer (but for some reason will not allow Kord to access it’s power). Back in the present Reyes discovers that “Ted Kord” wants to use an army of weaponized robots to bring about his “utopia” and Jaime calls on Batman for help. Batman arrives to help Jaime and reveals that the person on this island is actually Jarvis Kord, Ted’s nefarious brother, and that Ted died stopping a similar plot by Jarvis 2 years prior. Batman and Blue Beetle 3 work together to thwart Jarvis, as Batman reveals the moral of the story: It’s not important why you were chosen, but rather what you chose to do.
Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle (the inspiration for Nite-Owl in Alan Moore’s Watchmen) has always been my favorite incarnation of the character, a sentiment that has been shared by a great many comic readers, and as a result many people failed to embrace the Reyes version of the character. I think this episode tries to tackle that issue head on by having Reyes struggle with the Blue Beetle legacy much the same way that his creators had to struggle with gaining acceptance for the character in the comics. Ultimately, the story tells us that regardless of the cicumstances the lead to the passing of the torch, we need to let go of past experience and preconceived expectations and embrace the choices that are being made with the current Blue Beetle. Unlike the characters in the comics, however, the writers and publishers do have the ability to alter the time line and return our favorites to us if the demands are there, and in this episode they did succumb and give us a fun adventure with Ted Kord while continuing to force Reyes into a more accepted role in the Universe. Overall, I was excited to see Kord again, but I feel like a lot of the development of Reyes from the first episode was undone or ignored in order to set up the conflict for this adventure, and thus I think this episode was middle of the road quality at best.
Featured Characters: Blue Beetle 2 (Ditko, 1966), Blue Beetle 3 (Giffen, Rogers and Hamner, 2006), Doctor Polaris (Broome and G. Kane, 1963)