Three more titles from the “Young Justice” group of DC’s New 52:
Blue Beetle has appeared in a variety of guises from various publishers since 1939. In this incarnation, teenager Jaime Reyes is coping with life in El Paso when an alien artifact latches onto his back, turning him into a cosmic super-soldier—kind of like Green Lantern with a scarab instead of a ring.
Writer Tony Bedard and artists Ig Guara and Ruy José do a serviceable job of introducing us to this Blue Beetle. New readers shouldn’t be too confused by what they read. Blue Beetle has shown surprising popularity on the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, so this book could be around for a while if the creators can manage to maintain the balance between Jaime’s teenage awkwardness and his enormous powers.
Since their début in 1958, The Legion of Super-Heroes has become one of the more popular team-up books, predating the X-Men phenomenon, while simultaneously being perceived as impenetrable to new readers because of its enormous cast of characters and complex history. This reputation is a bit undeserved, since really, how hard is it to figure out that Colossal Boy’s power is to grow, or Lightning Lass’s power is to harness lightning? The first issue of this new series even gives us the Cliff Notes’ on every Legionnaire’s true identity, power, and home world as they are introduced.
Nevertheless, this issue is devoted to telling a tense tale of covert infiltration of a suspicious military compound without a lot of explanation of what’s going on. From bits of dialog the reader can infer that some wrenching events recently happened which killed one or more Legionnaires and sent several others missing (presumably the ones in Legion Lost). If the reader is unfamiliar with the Legion and its recent past, this issue won’t be much help.
Writer Paul Levitz is closely associated with the Legion, having written over 100 issues in the 1980s, returning to the series in the past year or so. Thus, I wouldn’t expect any significant changes from established continuity. Levitz is one of DC’s top writers and knows how to integrate action, romance, and occasionally humor into a compelling story. This is a hard task when working with a team this large. It’s hard to tell from the first issue, but I suspect Levitz will realize the potential he has shown in the past. Artist Francis Portela’s work is a bit dark and crowded as one might expect with so many characters, although some of that may be due to the coloring.
The Teen Titans have been around since the mid 1960s, but hit their stride in the 1980s with the classic run by Marv Wolfman and George Peréz. In the early 2000s Geoff Johns reinvigorated the series with a new line-up. Now, writer Scott Lobdell and artists Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund hope to recapture some of that magic.
The first issue centers on Tim Drake, AKA Red Robin, former Batman sidekick and current independent investigative superhero, as he searches out a clandestine organization that is plucking up super-powered teenagers (which turns out to be Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. from the pages of Superboy). In the process he rescues Cassie Sandsmark, AKA Wonder Girl, from a heavily armed robot helicopter. Meanwhile, a new Kid Flash botches an attempt to help put out a house fire, and we see a repeat of the final scene from Superboy #1.
This looks like a story we’ve seen many times: typical teenagers learning to use their super-powers while fumbling their relationships as a team. The clean, bold artwork saves this from being a generic mid-list title. Perhaps once the complete team is in place and we know how it relates to the rest of the DC Universe it will pick up more interest.