After completing the series’ first Rebirth-era mega-arc, Blue Beetle #11 is here to push the story forward! Eventually. Is it good?
It’s the end of the Arion Saga, and Dr. Fate will METE OUT PUNISHMENT if he has to! Be careful with that scarab, Jamie Reyes, it’s proven stronger than human will before.
Just like high school! Enough inter-dimensional sparring, it’s time for lunchroom squabbling! But there’s manipulation in the background. And stalking in the gutters!
Blue Beetle #11 is a very old-style comic book. Of course it is; it’s written by industry legends Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis. So there’s a lot of dialogue, a lot of character work and a decent amount of world-building.
It also means a lot of modern comic book conventions are broken — probably for the worse. Nearly half the issue is an extended denouement of the previous story, and the one begun here just never gets out of first gear. The teenage drama is a poor substitute for any kind of real action, and the sheer amount of talking is more likely to make the reader feel as if they’re in Melrose Place than Metropolis.
Yes, that’s an outdated reference, one that could fit right into Blue Beetle #11. It’s great to have a variety of different comics styles to choose from, including a more traditional one guided by the old masters, but for Pete’s sake, update the pop culture. There’s a difference between maintaining a style and teleporting an entire book from 1995 to the present day. It’s like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, eh, dork-face parental units?
Scott Kolins’ art is comparatively modern, though not without its boom period hallmarks, like the sharp figure lines. Still, the faces are more expressive and there’s a neat use of panel layouts when introducing the creeping terror of a new, psychological villain. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colors define each character well, especially at the beginning, providing stark contrast between the darker Blue Beetle and the lighter Dr. Fate.
If Blue Beetle #11 were published 20 years before it was, it would be a fine comic. Even today, it’s not a bad one, but the pacing, storytelling decisions and even the dialogue are simply too incongruous to be overlooked. Utilizing old methods in a modern setting can potentially make for an interesting juxtaposition, but ripping an issue directly off a Waldenbooks spinner rack and charging $3.99 for it does no one any favors.