Review: Blue Beetle #4 by Tony Bedard & Ig Guara

Blue Beetle #4

Written by: Tony Bedard
Penciled by: Ig Guara
Inked by: JP Mayer
Colored by: Pete Pantazis
Lettering by: Rob Leigh

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

The two easiest types of reviews for me are reviewing comics I loved and reviewing comics I hated. Any thing that evokes a real strong feeling in me one way or the other I can hammer out real quick, add in some images, a summary, and wrap it all up in under an hour.

The harder reviews…the ones that take me hours…are for books that I really didn’t feel all that strongly about; reviews for comics I just kind of liked or felt underwhelmed by.  In fact, it took me close to four hours to finish this review this morning.

Right up front I want to make something clear, there is nothing at all wrong with Blue Beetle as a comic. The art is great, the characterization and action are very well done, and this book seems like it has a ton of potential. Despite all that, I just can’t bring myself to get all that excited about reading Blue Beetle every month. There is just something missing about this book, something that makes it so I don’t get all that excited about Blue Beetle,  and I really can’t put my finger on what it is.

Summary (contains spoilers): The issue starts with Jaime’s friend Paco hanging out with his gang, Chuco Thirteen. The villains who have been hunting for the scarab show up, having tracked Paco down through his car:

They quickly dispatch the gang and demand they tell him which one is Paco.

Elsewhere, Jaime has gotten home, and his parents see the scarab markings on his back and think he’s gotten a tattoo. The scarab is preventing him from telling them the truth.

Jaime goes to school, and is harassed by some of the football team looking for Paco. He runs into the bathroom, and the scarab wants to kill them. Jaime can’t seem to keep the scarab under control, but he’s saved when his friend Brenda arrives and chases the football team off by threatening to say they were trying to grab her. Brenda tells Jaime that Paco was freaking out about a stolen backpack, so Jamie rushes off to try and save Paco.

He arrives in full armor and the scarab starts fighting the villains. He manages to drive them off and stands in front of Paco. He forces the scarab to retract off his face so he can reveal his identity to Paco. Determined to protect Jaime’s identity, the scarab stabs Paco through the chest.

Review: I hate to single out Blue Beetle for this, as they as far from the only DC Relaunch to do this, but DC really needs to do a better job fleshing out and introducing villains. DC Relaunch has a lot of new villains who’ve shown up, and characters like the villains in this book that I’m not even sure if they are new villains or not.

DC needs to take a page from Waid’s Daredevil. Whether it’s old little known villains like The Spot, fairly well known villains like Klaw, or new villains like Bruiser, each of them were given plenty of room to be introduced and fleshed out. I really didn’t get much of a handle on Silverback or Plasmus, or any of the other villains who have showed up in the first few issues of Blue Beetle.  And this is after they’ve been around for three issues!

Bedard has some great characterization in Blue Beetle, but it just feels like more needs to be packed into each issue. We’re still pretty much dealing with the same villains hunting down the scarab. Like Static Shock, it just feels like the opening arc is dragging on too long, and not giving the reader enough to really grab on to. I don’t have much of a sense of the long term direction of this book, other than “evil alien artifact ruining the life of a teenager.”

Ig Guara’s art really fits this book well. There is a lot of action in Blue Beetle, and it’s always clear what’s going on. One thing that I thought was amusing was that Brenda looks a lot like Pepper Potts from Iron Man: Armored Adventure.

Blue Beetle, like Action Comics, is a tricky book for me to review. Both of those titles aren’t bad comics. But both of them just really haven’t done much since issue 1 to keep my attention. Most of the Relaunch books have gotten better and better, but some like Blue Beetle just feel like they are stuck in neutral.

I will still be picking up Blue Beetle, but I will likely be waiting a month after release for the price to drop.  I just can’t justify paying full price for a comic that doesn’t wow me.

There are lots of books that come out this week that I just love and rush to read (THUNDER Agents, Nightwing, Batman, Catwoman, Justice League, Green Lantern Corps). Blue Beetle, despite the solid writing and great art, I actually had to force myself to sit down and read to write this review. I kept wanting to skip it and read some of the comics I bought from Comixology’s holiday sale;  comics I am genuinely excited about.

Blue Beetle is good enough to stay on my reading list, but never quite enough to be my favorite book for the week, much less month. If you like young hero books, check it out, but Teen Titans, The Ray, and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man are much better choices.

Final Score: 7.5 – Blue Beetle is a good comic, but never quite reaches great. There are a lot of comics I like better, but I still read and enjoy Blue Beetle.

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