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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Reader's Diary #1286- Keith Giffen and John Rogers (Writers), Cully Hamner (Artist): Blue Beetle, Shellshocked

In the past couple of years, I've put myself through a crash course of superhero comics: reading what others have told me are quintessential titles for major characters and so on. Now I progress to part 2, learning about those lesser known characters.

That said, I had at least heard of Blue Beetle before. My son's mentioned him to me and he was in The Death of Superman, which I just read recently. Still, I had no idea where to start. Often in such a case I'll Google something along the lines of "Essential comics featuring " and see what titles I can come up with. While I could not find such a list for Blue Beetle, I did find quite a few people who seem to prefer earlier Blue Beetle stories when Ted Kord was behind the suit. In Shellshocked, the mantle has passed to a teenager named Jaime Reyes, of Mexican descent living in El Paso, Texas. 

Reyes' heritage and the setting alone was enough to interest me. This was in 2006 when there was less emphasis on non-white male superheroes, so already a step in the right direction. Plus, it's not set in New York! And, despite not being a Ted Kord book (which I'll still need to read at some point), it's actually not a bad jumping on point for a newcomer. There's an origin story of Reyes' powers, plus it gives a little background of the previous two Blue Beetles, so there's enough to catch a reader up. That said, Reyes does mention a fight in which he helped out Superman and Batman and subsequently got abandoned, but I have no idea what that was all about and so it's not a perfect jumping on point.

Still, the book is fun and does a good job of introducing characters, good and bad. Jamie's friends and family are given enough personality to keep them interesting and while you sense enough about Reyes' connection to the larger DC Universe, he also has enough going on in his own life to carry solo titles. He's also a likeable kid.

Hamner's art is serviceable if just average. However, it's salvaged somewhat by the colouring. Lots of browns and yellows captures the arid climate of the setting, plus provides a great contrast to the Blue Beetle suit.

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