Blue Beetle (vol.6) #9 (February, 1987)
“Legends, Chapter 11: Timepiece!”
Writer – Len Wein
Pencils – Paris Cullins
Inks – Dell Barras
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Karen Berger
Cover Price: $0.75
Hard to believe we’re going on three years at this blog, and I’ve yet to cover an issue of Blue Beetle. Well, there’s a reason for that… and it has to do with my persnickety-ness.
Ya see, I couldn’t decide what “volume” to give this. I could just say it’s the “first DC volume” and call it good… but, you know me… if there’s a way to make things more complicated, you can be dang sure I’m going to do it.
Since I don’t want to necessarily preclude us from discussing the Charlton era Beetle books, I’ve decided to do a deep dive into the volume minutia. I concluded that this, the first DC volume of Blue Beetle, is actually Volume 6… I think… I hope.
Anyhoo… let’s get to it!
We open with a rather aggravated Blue Beetle getting ready to take on a bunch of “Cyberpunks”. He’s so annoyed and bored with these geeks, he mentions that he could beat ’em all up… with both arms tied behind his back. When one of the punks suggest he put his money where his mouth is, Ted does just that. He proceeds to pummel the punks, with both arms behind his back!
We see that he only confronted the Cyberpunks because they were hasslin’ an old lady. When Ted goes to check on her, she lashes out and takes a swipe at him with her pocketbook. Ya gotta remember, this issue is a Legends tie-in… and superheroes had lost the trust of the common folk. Ted collects himself, and hops a ride on the Bug before the police show up.
We shift scenes to the home of Angela Revere, an employee of Kord Industries. She’s been stealing little bits and bops from her employer over the past little while for her Uncle David… who we know better as Chronos, the Time Thief! Hey, stop laughing back there. Anyhoo, when Angie starts having second thoughts about this arrangement, he shocks her silly… leaving her “frozen in time”.
Ted returns to his garage, all the while thinking about the damage being done to the superhero community thanks to one G. Gordon Godfrey. As he begins running maintenance on the Bug, he wonders if he’s wasting his time.
We shift scenes to Death Valley, California… where a Geologist named Cassandra Sharp finds herself swept up in a sudden sandstorm. Time passes, and she is discovered by a pair of shadowy folks in a black helicopter. Uh-oh.
Back at Kord, Incorporated… Ted and his assistant, Mel watch the news. What they see is… if I’m honest, a pretty poorly rendered Ronald Reagan. He is delivering a message on an executive order. Costumed superheroes are to “cease their public activities”… which is to say, the heroes have been outlawed!
From here, the report shifts over WHIZ-TV anchor, Gwyneth Tate. She proceeds to conduct an interview with the fella who foments… G. Gordon Godfrey. He rattles off his usual spoo about superheroes not being the best role models… their resorting to violence, yadda yadda yadda. Ted flips the set off.
Mel’s a bit annoyed… she wanted to hear more of what Godfrey had to say. Ted’s… well, Ted’s pretty annoyed himself. He wonders what might be in store for he and the rest of the superhero community if the President sticks to his guns.
We shift scenes back to Chronos. He’s got a pair of nudnicks loading a box truck full of clocks. When one of them suggests they get a cut’a da action… and threatens to spill the beans if they don’t… Chronos, well… Cronos kills them. Whoops. What a stupid way to die… impaled by a clock hand.
After a stop at the Kord Metallurgy Lab, where… something happens… we hop over to the Chicago Police Department, where officers Fisher and Frank argue about the President’s superhero ban. It gets heated quick… and actually feels like the way people usually discuss real-world politics.
Back at Kord, Ted is informed that Angie Revere hasn’t shown up for work. This is quite unlike her, and therefore raises some concern. Despite Mel’s arguing, he decides to head out for a breath of fresh air to check in on her.
Next stop for us… Pago Island, where a fella named Conrad Carapax is trying to dig himself out of a collapsed tunnel. During this dig, he comes across a steel door. Inside that door… a red suit of armor?!
Back in civilization, Ted arrives at the Revere home. Worth noting, Ted’s convertible is… kinda precious! I mean, dude barely fits in the thing! When there’s no answer at the door, Ted decides to do a little reconnaissance work… and, ya know… peek through the windows. He sees Angie all frozen in time, and busts in to check on her.
Once he’s able to shake her back to her senses, she comes clean about stealing Kord Industries equipment… and continues to reveal that the equipment was used by her Uncle to create a weapon.
We wrap up with the reveal (to Ted, anyway) that Angie’s Uncle is actually Chronos, the Time Thief. Ted realizes that, superhero ban or not, the Blue Beetle is about to be back in action!
If you’ve taken PSY101, you’re probably familiar with the concept of “transference”… oversimplified, it’s when you assign attributes to a person because they remind you of someone else. It could be due to looks, or quirks… whatever the case, you find yourself imposing unfair expectations on them. That’s kinda how I feel whenever I read a non-bwah-ha-ha appearance of Ted Kord.
Yeah, it’s not exactly transference, since… this is still Ted Kord… but, due to his depiction in the JLI, I cannot help to expect a silly story whenever I see him. It’s an unfair expectation, sure… but, it’s always my first instinct.
That being said… this was definitely a story with a more serious tone… and despite it not being “bwah-ha-ha silly”, I loved it! It’s been ages since I’ve taken a look at Legends, and issues like this remind me why I really ought to prioritize a reread of the event in the near future.
We’ve got Ted caught between a rock and a hard place here. If he stands down and complies with Reagan’s superhero ban… Chronos stands to get into some pretty bad stuff. If he rises up as the Beetle… well, that puts him at odds with the United States Government… which could leave him in an even stickier spot. It’s really well done.
The art here is also really well done. Cullins is like a near perfect blend of comic book and cartoon… I find his style to be a great fit for this book.
All told, this was a great time. Even if your only frame of reference for Blue Beetle is of the more lighthearted “bwah-ha-ha” sort (like mine was), there is still a whole bunch to dig here. This story has been collected in SHOWCASE Presents: Blue Beetle and is available digitally.