Blue Beetle – Rebirth #1 accomplishes a major objective really well. For some readers, Jaime Reyes is the definitive Blue Beetle, the one they want to read. And for others, Ted Kord will always be the Beetle for them. The creative team of Keith Giffen and Scott Kolins manage to hit upon the perfect solution for everyone; this book will star both characters. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a solid decision that winds up offering the most promise for the new series, a relationship that is fraught with tension and differing goals.
The rest of the issue is very much a by-the-numbers super-hero first issue. It’s executed well, definitely, and I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t really surprised by anything in the issue either. It opens in media res, with Jaime fighting bad guys, then flashes back to establish Jaime’s world and supporting cast, defining relationships before introducing a peril for Blue Beetle to fight, then setting up both a central mystery and then an overarching antagonist. It’s pretty much textbook stuff, with no diversions or innovations to speak of. Don’t get me wrong, I love old school archetypal storytelling as much as the next guy, but it does mean that the issue didn’t exactly leap off the page for me.
The most enjoyable and novel part of Blue Beetle – Rebirth #1 was the way Giffen and Kolins define the relationship between Ted Kord and Jaime. Jaime clearly isn’t in love with being Blue Beetle, he’s longing for a normal life and resents the intrusion the scarab on his back represents. But billionaire Ted Kord is depicted as a kind of super-hero fanboy/wannabe, a guy who is finding a larger purpose in helping the Blue Beetle fight crime. So while Jaime is sticking with Ted in the hopes he can help remove the scarab from his back and restore normalcy to his life, Ted is just as fervently trying to pull Jaime deeper into that world. That’s a conflict in which I can see some potential, and I like the way that neither or them are bad guys or manipulative, they’re just regular people with goals that don’t match up. It’s the part of the issue I found most intriguing, and what kept Blue Beetle – Rebirth #1 from being completely mundane.
I’ve always liked Scott Kolins art ever since he was the penciler on “The Flash,” and he doesn’t disappoint here. He and Giffen share story credit, so he’s taking a larger role in the writing of the series, evidently. There’s a few splashy full page shots that really showcase his love for the design of the Beetle suit, and as always, he brings this great sense of “gee-whizzery” to the book that feels so fun.
If it weren’t for the very familiar feel of the narrative, I’d probably rate Blue Beetle – Rebirth #1 a lot higher, but the central relationship at its core and the sense of classic fun underneath serve to make the book enjoyable nonetheless. 7/10.