Since 1956, the cornerstone of superhero evolution in the DC Universe has been the concept of legacy. New heroes are inspired by their predecessors, or trained by them, or even take over a generational role from their parents. Ted Kord, for instance, the second Blue Beetle, was a student of the original, Dan Garrett. In 1967’s Blue Beetle #2, Garrett intervenes when Ted is manipulated by his uncle, the evil scientist Jarvis Kord, into building an army of indestructible robots. Defeating Jarvis proves to be Garrett’s last adventure, and with his dying breaths, he passes the mantle on to the promising young Ted.
Jaime Reyes, our modern Blue Beetle since 2005, had no such passing of the torch. He wasn’t the son of a superhero, or a student, or even a fan. When he became Blue Beetle, he had never taken a class with Ted Kord, never even met the guy. He didn’t even know what a Blue Beetle was before he already was one.
Jaime came to possess the scarab that empowered the original Blue Beetle when it fell from the sky in the destruction of the Rock of Eternity during Day of Vengeance, where its inheritor Ted had placed it for safekeeping at the time of his death. Like Kyle Rayner inheriting the Green Lantern ring, it was simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time (or the wrong one).
For most of his first comic book adventures as the Blue Beetle, Jaime bore little connection to the Blue Beetle legacy. His first connection to his forebears, apart from the scarab itself, comes from an unlikely source—that of Danni Garrett, granddaughter of the original Blue Beetle and amateur superhero historian. It’s with Danni’s guidance that Jaime learns the Blue Beetle legacy, which ends up raising more questions than answers. So, here is Jaime Reyes, clad in full Blue Beetle armor and with access to more functions than he knows what to do with. So what gives?
It’s not until 2008’s Blue Beetle #25, two years into his solo run, that we learn why the scarab, Khaji Da, activated for Jaime. Dan Garrett had the knowledge to use the scarab, Khaji Da, to limited effect, but it was still damaged at the time from its tumultuous journey to Earth. With Ted, residual energy from his proximity to Booster Gold retroactively prevented Khaji Da from operating at all. It was only with Jaime that Khaji Da had the means and opportunity to assume its full functionality. Unique among scarabs across the universe, Khaji Da would work with Jaime as a partner, as opposed to a parasite.
The main obstacle between Jaime really connecting with any of his predecessors as Blue Beetle had always been that, well, they were all dead. Jaime gets the opportunity to confront a zombie Ted Kord in 2009’s Blackest Night, a trial Ted himself once had to endure when facing a resurrected Dan Garrett in his own ’80s solo series. Jaime also got to know more about Ted through team-ups with his predecessor’s best friend Booster Gold, who provides his own dubious mentorship to Jaime from time to time where he’s shared memories of the previous Beetle.
It was in 2016’s DC Universe: Rebirth that Jaime meets a living Ted Kord for the first time. With Ted’s murder undone by DC’s 2011 and 2016 continuity reshuffles, Ted finally has the opportunity to take Jaime under his own wing, although it became very apparent in the 2016 Blue Beetle series that the two had entirely different approaches to the Blue Beetle mantle. With Jaime still mastering the scarab’s more mystic properties, and Ted out of his depth in a more modern age of superheroes, the two have to learn to readjust to the hero game together.
A superhero, however, cannot live on good deeds alone. Unless you’re born into wealth like a Batman or Green Arrow, you do have to find work. And that’s where we find Jaime in Blue Beetle: Graduation Day—a series which answers a lot of questions for us about Ted Kord. Questions like why he isn’t running Kord Industries after his father died and has been messing around with Booster to play superhero influencer instead.
Jaime graduates from high school to confess to his parents that he doesn’t feel like college is necessarily right for him. His parents are supportive of his decision, on the condition that he starts looking for work immediately. That decision takes him from El Paso to Palmera City, working in food service with his aunts there—but also picking up an unpaid internship with the relocated Kord Industries. Only it’s not Ted who’s running the show.
Meet Victoria Kord, Ted’s older sister and CEO of Kord Industries. We first learned about Victoria’s existence in the press leading up to the Blue Beetle movie, but comics beat the film to the punch for her first appearance. (A not unheard of phenomenon. The same thing was true of Barbara Gordon, who was created for the Batman TV show but made her comics debut shortly prior.)
Victoria, as ruthless in business as she is mad about science, is far more suited for the corporate world of super science than her brother ever was. But with more in common with their treacherous uncle Jarvis than the lovable goofball Ted, Victoria teeters on the same precipice of amorality and evil danced upon by so many modern-day tech billionaires. Will Jaime’s work with Kord Industries as Ted’s inside man keep Victoria’s steady acquisition of super science gadgets from spilling over into catastrophe? Will he finally start getting paid? What happened to his aspirations to be a dentist? The answers to all that still lie in Jaime’s future—one you can see for yourself in the new Blue Beetle movie and the upcoming Blue Beetle comic series launching this September.
Blue Beetle, directed by Angel Manuel Soto and starring Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, lands in theaters this Friday, August 18th. Visit our official Blue Beetle hub for more news, features and videos about our newest big-screen hero and share your thoughts on the film right now in the DC Community!