Issue #2 or “Bad Beetle Breakdown!”
Our next episode deals with the reoccurring side character known as the Blue Beetle. Jaime Reyes (the current Blue Beetle) was first introduced in the series premiere and even got the first title “Rise of the Blue Beetle!” suffice to say he is an important character in the series. He uses the power of the Blue Scarab to manifest powers that allow him to do everything from firing laser blasts to transforming his hand into a massive hammer or saw. Being that he is new to crime fighting, Batman thought it imperative to instruct him on how to be a hero.
However, that story was more straightforward and was less defined which since it was a pilot is expected. However, this episode despite its title is not a sequel to the premiere nor is it referring to Jaime Reyes. It is instead referring to the disappearance of the previous Blue Beetle named Ted Kord and the rocky history the Blue Beetle scarab (the source of Blue Beetle’s powers) has had since it was found on earth.
Grab your party blowers and boxing gloves kids; this is going to be a good old fashioned slobber knocker.
#2 – Fall of the Blue Beetle!
Written by: Jim Krieg
Directed by: Brandon Vietti
Diedrich Bader as Batman
Will Friedle as Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes)
Wil Wheaton as Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)
Tim Matheson as Jarvis Kord
Lex Lang as Dr. Polaris
Jason Marsden as Paco
This episode starts with the cold open showing Batman and mysterious hero called ‘Blue Beetle’ that is different from the one we have already met in the show. Batman and Blue Beetle are breaking into some kind of a hidden lab and seem to be getting along just great as if they’ve known each other a long time. But why does Batman know two Blue Beetles and why have we never seen him before now?
Normally the cold open features a climax to another Batman adventure we don’t see, so when the show has a cold open that has to do with the current episode it’s usually worth sitting up for and paying attention. Fall of the Blue Beetle is one of those times.
This Blue Beetle does not appear to have the same powers as the one we know, but is more similar to Batman in his usage of gadgets. Blue Beetle and Batman make their way through the death traps that litter the lab (making small talk on gadgets and their general effectiveness) before falling through the floor into the employee lounge and discuss the effectiveness of brawn in a superhero’s career. It is here where we get thrown into our traditional title sequence.
“People just don’t appreciate the time and expense that goes into this high tech gear-
They’d rather see fisticuffs.”
Uppercuts and body slams are no substitutes for having the proper tools when it comes to crime fighting…
But they are a whole lot more fun!”
We are shown a shooting star in space that pans down to reveal two teenagers telling stories to each other by the campfire. Jaime Reyes and his friend Paco are both debating the origin of the Green Lantern and what it means to be a hero. Paco argues that some ordinary guy lucked into finding the ring which is what makes the Green Lantern a hero and Jaime disagrees saying that the ring chose the right person to be the hero. “Heroes are chosen because they’re worthy to become heroes,” he argues.
Paco quickly backs off when he sees how passionate Jaime is on the subject since he doesn’t appear to know that his friend is actually a superhero. He enjoys ribbing his smaller friend on most occasions, but isn’t willing to attack something he believes in so passionately. However, he also doesn’t know why Jaime feels that way.
The Blue Beetle is a hero that has not been around too long, in fact his first proper mission might have not been too long before the series premiere, but one thing Jaime believes is that heroes are exceptional people who rise above the problems that come their way and are more than willing to give a helping hand to others. But whether he earned those powers or not is something that eats a bit at him.
Jaime found a scarab that attached to his back and gave him the power of the Blue Beetle. With the scarab’s help it gave him superpowers that allowed him to adventure with his heroes like Batman. Otherwise, he would be just another kid sitting around talking about how much cooler hero X is than hero Y and not the superhero he feels he was chosen to become. Or so he thinks, anyway.
This conversation bothers him a good deal and he spends some time thinking about his discussion. It in fact bothers it so much he decides to take it to a friend.
Sometime later, Batman is deep in battle with Dr. Polaris who is stealing quite a bit of gold when our young hero appears in the midst of battle. Asking Batman embarrassing questions while the two are on a mission is sort of standard issue for the young Blue Beetle, but this time he appears more serious than usual though the Caped Crusader doesn’t notice. It doesn’t help that Dr. Polaris can attract and repel metal which really requires his undivided attention so he not get smashed in the face with a nice hunk of unexpected flying steel to the jaw.
“Fools! Your bullets are useless against my awesome power to repel!”
“You might try a new deodorant.”
Once the devious doctor is taken down, Batman coldly refuses to tell his friend anything about the previous Blue Beetle, telling him to drop it and the young hero goes off on his own. The scarab informs Jaime (yes, at some point it started talking to him in a voice only he can hear) that he can find old reports of the Blue Beetle and find out where he originally operated from. It doesn’t take long before the scarab’s info brings him to Hub City.
With the scarab leading the way, Jaime comes to Kord Enterprises and is led to a secret lair the holds plenty of old school superhero technology including a giant spaceship.
The previous Blue Beetle apparently knew something about the scarab Jaime didn’t know as the creature enters into the computer and a location appears on the screen. Naturally, he assumes this means that the previous Blue Beetle must have gone to this place. He also must have never returned as he was never seen again and the hideout is covered in thick dust.
As the second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord must have had many enemies. Is it possible one had finished him off?
There’s only one thing to do, Jaime decides. He must go and rescue the previous Blue Beetle and hopefully find out exactly what the scarab is in the process.
While he flies through the skies he is sent a communication from Batman who is back at it beating a new gang of criminals up. Batman apologies for being rude to his young friend earlier, but that he wasn’t sure that he was ready to hear about what happened to the last Blue Beetle as it is not something he talks about often to anyone. Jaime ignores Batman’s warnings and heads to an island that the computer guides him to leaving his friend hanging on the other end.
Blue Beetle arrives on the island and quickly comes across a small cadre of blue robots shaped like some kind of insect. He promptly blows them to pieces when an older man arrives and chews him out for his behavior. Jaime apologizes and tells him that he is actually Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle and the old man returns his greeting. He says his name is Ted Kord and he was the previous Blue Beetle.
Whatever had happened to him that lead him to be there on the island and disappearing from crime-fighting is still a mystery.
Batman becomes nervous for his young friend and takes off to Science Island (yes, that’s what it’s called) in order to find him and reminisces once more about the mission we saw in the cold open at the show’s start.
Ted Kord had apparently loaned the scarab to the owner of the lab they were infiltrating (why he loaned it to this individual we don’t learn until later) and it ended up stolen by the stranger in the lab before them.
He lent the scarab to try and see if the stranger could get it to work for him since Ted Kord has never been able to make the scarab work. Though he instead was relying on gadgets like Batman to fight crime, a little extra firepower is always welcome. The Dark Knight and the Blue Beetle make their entrance and are assaulted by all sorts of strange robots and machines disguised like lab equipment as the villain tries to make an escape through the chaos.
“Looks like he had a contingency plan.”
“Good thing we have our own.”
“Hit robots, make fall down?”
“That’s the one.”
Back in the present, the man called Ted Kord talks about his current research to make the scarab technology to make the world a better place. While he could only help one person at a time as the Blue Beetle, he can now help countless with his new army of drones. The robots will apparently do the farming to feed the poor, the building for the homeless, and other such activities like fight-crime. They only need to be powered by the scarab to help them activate and the good deeds can begin.
Yes, Jaime is more than a little naïve, believing that if the scarab went to Ted Kord then he must be someone to be trusted. He instead ignored the warning signs and blindly charged in to give the hidden man exactly what he wanted. Without even a pause he gives them the charge they need to start.
Kord even takes credit for the scarab “finding” Jaime saying that he sent it out to seek the person best required to help him save the world. How one actually programs something to do that is a mystery.
Hey, he worked with Batman. Surely he’s on the level? No, apparently Kord has something against old Bats, as after Jaime informs the old man about him he waits for the hero to turn his back and sends a security protocol to stop Batman from arriving.
What is Kord’s deal?
Batman arrives on Science Island being pursued by the scarab bots that Kord sent out after him just moments before. He just manages to escape the Batwing exploding when at the same time Jaime starts to think that something isn’t right with Kord’s plan. It appears the little robots don’t have much hope of feeding the poor with bullets. Not to mention them being loaded on missiles can’t do much to build homes.
Kord turns on Jaime and loads himself into a large scarab powered suit and begins to beat him down saying that Batman won’t be coming to help because he’s taken care of him.
Unfortunately for the mad doctor, he’s wrong as Batman levels the bot with a well-placed electric tazer shock (and a great punch line) and rescues Jaime from his grip when the doctor calls for his back up.
“Battle drones! Initiate attack sequence!
No missiles in the lab, PLEASE.”
The robots obey Kord’s orders and attack our heroes without projectiles at our overwhelmed heroes. The doctor quickly regains control of the situation and restrains his aggressors as he gloats about how he is now going to rule the world. He wanders away claiming he will eliminate any evil from the world when Batman tells Jaime that the old megalomaniac is in fact not Ted Kord.
The deranged doctor is actually Jarvis Kord, Ted’s uncle who was given the scarab to help him learn its secrets. He turned on Ted and instead tried to use it to amass his own armory of aggressive technology when Ted found out and decided to take the scarab back and stop his mad plans. Batman tagged along to help and that was how they ended up in that old lab so long ago.
Ted Kord received the Blue Beetle scarab from his mentor Dan Garrett who died in a violent battle and told him to carry on the mantle. Ted tried to study the scarab for years but could not figure out how to tap into its powers successfully. So instead he used his guts and technological ingenuity to fight crime his own way without the scarab. He might not have been anything like his predecessor but he was a great hero in his own right who made a name for himself as a formidable crime fighter.
The Blue Beetle’s history is not typical, but it has one thing in common. That being that every holder of the mantle has been a great hero. Ted Kord is an interesting mirror between Batman and Jaime to show that not only was the previous hero nothing like Jaime- he was in fact very much like Batman.
When they stormed Jarvis’ lab, Blue Beetle and Bats soon found themselves in a sticky situation as the doctor initiated the launch of a rocket that would level Hub City. The doctor escaped after setting off a timer for his grand scheme, but neither hero refused to stop. Batman attempted to override the launch but couldn’t manage it and as the clock ticked down to the thirty second mark Ted had an idea. While the rampaging robots caught up with them, Batman held them off as best he could as Blue Beetle ran to the rocket and hooked himself to it in a desperate gamble.
Ted climbed to the top of the rocket and placed the scarab into the tip while he smashed the guidance system and foiled its launch. His plan succeeded as the rocket exploded in the air saving Hub City and sending the scarab far away to make sure Jarvis would never find it again. Unfortunately, in the process he lost his life and the victory was permanently tainted for Batman. Ted Kord died saving the world, but it was a true loss as such a noble hero’s life ended much too soon.
The reason Batman didn’t want to tell Jaime about it was that being a hero is not an easy job or filled with pats on the back. Sometimes they are called to make the ultimate sacrifice and sometimes a hero’s career doesn’t have a happy ending. Now it’s up to Jaime to make his own choice just like Ted did when he gave his life up.
“Fall of the Blue Beetle” is a bit of a cheat of a title. Ted Kord didn’t turn evil as Jaime had thought, though he did fall in battle. The story is really about choices and how they can lead either to our ‘rise’ or our ‘fall’ which is how it links to the series premiere. It’s an interesting mirror, anyway.
Jaime’s suit regenerates and breaks their chains. The robot army is momentarily taken by surprise and the pair storm their way to Kord’s control room before it is too late. Jarvis attempts a monologue to waste time, but Jaime knocks him out before he gets very far. The pair rushes to the console to stop his attack before it’s too late. Jaime overrides the system and sets the detonator for the reactors leaving them little time to escape.
The robots assault our heroes as they flee (carrying Jarvis with them) while the island explodes around them. Batman splits off to allow Jaime, who is carrying the doctor, in order to attract the attention of the robots and allow his friend to reach his ship. Before he is overwhelmed, Jaime returns and blows the robots to pieces as the Caped Crusader attempts to keep his cool by saying he told him to go without him. While the group escapes Science Island’s explosion and the death of the deadly army the day is finally saved.
Blue Beetle apologizes to Batman for getting hung up on the scarab and wondering if he was chosen after all since it almost led to his death and mass disaster, but Batman doesn’t agree. He tells him that the scarab did choose since it let him use its powers and not Ted but it’s not enough being chosen as Batman sums up the episode.
“But being chosen doesn’t make you a hero. What you choose does.”
“I just wanna do the right thing. Like Ted would have done.”
“Spoken like a true hero,” Batman thinks.
The episode is obviously about choices as mentioned earlier. Ted made his choice to be a hero even though he didn’t have the powers. Jarvis made a choice to use the scarab to spread evil. Jaime made the choice to be a hero even though with his powers he could do whatever he wanted. Sometimes choices don’t lead where we want and sometimes they do. Sometimes our choices lead us somewhere we never expected them to lead us, and sometimes that can be a great thing.
In “The Brave & The Bold”, it’s always a great moment when a hero chooses to do the right thing and saves the world. As it should be.
So ends another installment of our journey through the adventures of the brave and the bold. Next time we’ll be diving into something a bit more lighthearted, so hopefully the pace will continue to shock and amaze. There are still many more stories to tell, so keep your eyes peeled for our next exciting issue! It promises to be totally outrageous!
Until next time, Bat-fans! Same brave blog, same bold place!