All the way back in May–when Geoff Johns
ruined rebooted the DC Universe with Rebirth–we got our first look at Blue Beetles Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes. In two packed pages, we saw the strained relationship between Ted and Jaime, a Doctor Fate cameo and a tantalizing hint of magic. Now, months later, we get to see that exact same scene again (this time drawn by Scott Kolins) with some added context as to how the characters got to that moment. And it was not worth the wait.
There are a lot of reasons Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1 doesn’t quite work, but the problems start right at the book’s core. In theory, the dynamic between Ted and Jaime should be fun and snappy. Think comic book Iron Man mentoring Ms. Marvel or MCU Iron Man and Spider-man from Captain America: Civil War. But writer Keith Giffen can’t quite pull off the clever banter necessary to make it work.
Take the scene where, right before Jaime fights his first super villains, Ted tells him, “Remember, first impressions are lasting. Give ’em some attitude.” Though Jaime delivers a perfectly serviceable quip about the villains finally getting his attention, Ted is unsatisfied. However, he’s not disappointed because the line is bad, but because that’s how these scenes are supposed to work. The whole issue is filled with these kinds of forced exchanges–from heroes and villains alike–but instead of creating a fun, witty mood, they seem like acts of desperation. It’s as if Giffen is throwing “jokes” at the wall and hoping something will stick.
That said, perhaps the dialogue would work a little better if the narrative weren’t borderline incoherent. There’s frankly so much yammering and set up throughout that it’s nearly impossible to tell what this book is trying to be. Is it a story about Jaime and high school drama? Is it about Ted learning how to be a good mentor? Is it about magic and origins? Or is it simply the typical superheroes vs. villains story? Based on this issue, it could be any one of those things and while Giffen will certainly narrow the book’s focus as time goes, this one-shot doesn’t really make you want to find out how. So, in some way, Ted’s right. First impressions are lasting and Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1 doesn’t make a good one.