Blue Beetle: Graduation Day #1 review

Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes is fighting new foe Fadeaway in his home city of El Paso, Texas.

Despite Jaime’s best efforts, Fadeaway gets away, and our hero is late for his high school graduation. And before he can collect his diploma, he gets rather the shock.

Later, after being dragged into space by the Kaji Da scarab that transforms him into a superhero, he’s subjected to a second vision. What it means, Jaime doesn’t know. When he finally makes it home – having missed his graduation – the weird day continues. Superman has dropped by, and he has a request for Jaime. A rather firm request.

Well, Jaime takes that better than I did. What the heck are Superman (and, it turns out, Batman) thinking? They were happy enough to have Naomi in the Justice League after literally a fortnight of her having powers yet they’re benching Jaime, who has been in the game for years and fought alongside them bravely. If alien world conquerors The Reach are coming back for a second attempt on Earth surely Jaime – the only person to have turned their own scarab tech against them – is the heroes’ best asset?

I’ve followed Jaime Reyes’ journey since he debuted in DC’s Infinite Crisis and enjoyed his adventures. More, I relished his relationships with pals Paco and Brenda, and his family. I was less interested in the long story involving The Reach, so if the Justice League does handle them while Jaime has more down-to-Earth adventures, great.

I can’t see that happening, though, not with the unnerving visions he’s been having.

The colours in this comic are spectacular. Whether at street level or up, up in the sky, Wil Quintana’s tones are spectacular.

The art of Adrián Gutiérrez is pretty great too, especially in the costumed scenes. I’m less keen on his presentation of Jamie, who’s a little too exaggerated for me.

Freaky. And where Jaime previously had a bit of teenage bum fluff on his chin, there’s now an unpleasant mini-beard. Gutiérrez’s Superman, though, is terrific, even though he too is cartoony – it’s a different kind of cartoony, though, more Stephen DeStefano than Manga. I do enjoy the energy of the layouts.

And that alien in Jaime’s head – terrifying!

I do have one question about the art – what’s going on with Jaime’s dad’s eyes here? An unfinished colour effect?

And does his pop no longer need a walking stick? That was a constant previously, but we don’t see it anywhere here.

This is a nice introduction to Jaime for new readers and a reintroduction for longtime fans. He’s obviously a goodhearted kid making the best of his mad situation, and the relationship with his family rings true. I’d have been happy for him to stay the mid-teens age he was previously as there was surely life left in the high school set-up, but let’s see where he goes from here. And we get not one, but two new villains with stories to be told. There’s an intriguing move announced for Jaime, and it seems Fadeaway has seen Jaime mask-less, so that could be interesting.

I only have one problem with Josh Trujillo’s script – about a page and a half of it is lettered in untranslated Spanish by Lucas Gattoni. I get that Spanish would be used at Jaime’s home, but what are readers who don’t have the language meant to do, stop reading and scour the internet for a translation? Back in the days when DC comics had letter pages we’d likely get a translation there, but as it is, I’ve missed a lump of story. I read at CBR that this issue is also being released in a Spanish edition… maybe I should hunt that down and hope the corresponding pages are in English.

Weirdly gormless grins on Jaime and Paco apart, I like the cover by Gutiérrez and Quintana… I’m a sucker for footling with logo placement, and it looks like Maxima is coming (hopefully the original adult version, not the wet teen seen in Supergirl a few years back).

I’ll be checking out the second issue of this six-part mini-series, but I won’t be buying it when it appears. The frustration of missing part of the story means I’ll wait a month and read it on my DC Infinite Ultra subscription. How about you?

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