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Commencement Addressed: Josh Trujillo on Blue Beetle: Graduation Day

Commencement Addressed: Josh Trujillo on Blue Beetle:...

By Alex Jaffe Monday, January 23rd, 2023

Don’t bug out, Blue Beetle has everything under control. Honest.

By popular demand from 2021’s Round Robin competition, Blue Beetle: Graduation Day is blasting into action, giving us a new chapter in the life of everyone’s favorite teenage superhero with a techno-organic world-conquering insect grafted to his spine. For Jaime lovers, Graduation Day feels like a return to form for everything that made the original 2006 series so special, from Jaime’s close, honest relationship with his family to the way he bravely confronts incomprehensible intergalactic crises armed with no greater weapon than his compassion. We got to speak with series writer Josh Trujillo about what makes Jaime so beloved, how this series connects to the character’s roots, and what we can expect from a Blue Beetle with a high school diploma.

Blue Beetle: Graduation Day started its life cycle in the public eye as the first runner-up out of sixteen competing pitches in the 2021 Round Robin competition. What do you think makes Blue Beetle such a fan favorite?

Jaime is a wide-eyed kid trying to make sense of life in the DC Universe, and I think he’s a great reader surrogate in that way. He’s got a huge heart, the best supporting cast in comics and the drive to become a truly great hero. Longtime readers have been following this journey for years. I think we’re all excited for what’s next.

From the Golden Age to his recent Rebirth series, Blue Beetle has existed somewhere on the cusp of sci-fi and fantasy, dabbling in both magic and mysticism, and technology both alien and man-made. Which genre camp does this latest chapter of Blue Beetle fall into?

I refer to Jaime’s scarab, Khaji-Da, as a “mystical sci-fi scarab” and I think that’s where I land on the subject. It’s a little of both? Khaji-Da has a loooong history behind them, and they have had interactions with so many disparate elements of DC, whether it be magic or alien tech and everything in-between. But Khaji-Da’s story begins with the Reach. What happened since then is for Jaime (and the readers) to figure out.

You've partnered Jaime with an unlikely ally and mentor in this series: Starfire. Why use her for this story? How do Kory and Jaime work off each other?

Starfire is a personal favorite, and in writing Graduation Day, I saw a huge opportunity to fold her story into Jaime’s. I think some consider Kory a little naive or ditsy because of the cartoon. But in the same way that people are “street smart,” Starfire is “space smart!” She has extensive experience with DC’s cosmic side, she’s a fierce warrior, and both of those will be especially important with this new threat Jaime is facing. Beyond that, Starfire has enormous empathy and compassion that will help Jaime at a time when he needs that the most. I see her as a supportive aunt or an older sister figure to him. She knows what Jaime is capable of, even though he doesn’t always see it in himself.

Graduation Day takes us from Jaime's familiar grounds of El Paso to an entirely new location, Palmera City. What should we know as first-time tourists in Palmera? How is it different from Gotham or Metropolis?

Palmera City is a Silicon Valley along the Gulf Coast. It’s a vibrant, diverse town that brings a unique flavor to the DCU. It’s a high-tech boomtown with deep cultural roots, and those two things are often at odds with each other. How do you grow without losing what was there before? It’s a city at a crossroads, and so is Jaime.

This is my most important question here. Graduation Day is a series that makes some bold choices, but maybe the biggest is in the first issue, when we learn that Jaime doesn't plan to attend college. As huge fans of the 2006 Blue Beetle run where we first got to know Jaime, we have to ask...how is he going to become a dentist now?!

Deciding what I wanted after high school was very difficult for me, and I think a lot of younger readers can relate to that struggle. Now is the time for Jaime to figure out his priorities, whether it be fighting alongside superheroes, or living perhaps a quieter life as a college student. It’s not an easy choice, but Jaime has the time to figure it out. As far as I’m concerned, dentistry is endgame. But also I think there’s A LOT of story to tell before he gets there.

Let's leave off with this. If you were speaking on Jaime's Graduation Day for his commencement, what advice would you give him and the El Paso High School Class of 2022?

I’d encourage the El Paso graduates to follow their passions and let that dictate their individual journeys. The world is more complicated than ever, so rely on and uplift one another. Not everyone has a Scarab attached to their backs, but we all have gifts that can make a positive difference in this world.


Blue Beetle: Graduation Day #3 by Josh Trujillo, Adrián Gutiérrez and Wil Quintana lands in stores tomorrow!