Blue Beetle: Who is the Cerulean Champion?

These Beetles Aren’t From Liverpool

Blue Beetle:But I’m not alone, am I Scarab?
Scarab:No, Jaime Reyes. Though we once fought for control, we now stand united.
Blue Beetle:Friends. Hermanos. Standing together against any attack.”

Young Justice “Endgame” (Season 2, Episode 20)

Alert! Threat detected. Six earthlings attacking civilians. Armaments: two baseball bats, three semi automatic rifles, one Apokoliptian laser canon. Engage protective carapace, designation: Blue Beetle. Recommended countermeasure: Qwardian napalm launcher.

[Wha- no! We’re the good guys, escarabajo! Nix the napalm!]

Replacement countermeasure: Thanagarian saw shooter.

[Dios Mio… Something non-lethal!]

Replacement countermeasure: Coluan neural scrambler. Non-lethal. Those hit will not be able to move for one day.

[That’ll work. Escarabajo, vámonos!]

Two shooters down. Bullets hit the protective shell. Zero damage. Engaging thrusters. Tackle successful, target down. Fractured ribs are repairable. Bat wielders down. Alert! Laser canon fully charged! Evasive maneuvers! Converting left scrambler to Oan stun staff. Fly past the shooter, pivot, and strike! All enemy combatants neutralized. Disengaging weapons.

[Heh. Good job, Scarab.]

Blue Beetle is a superhero legacy. Several publishers and previous heroes have built up the hero who ushers in DC’s new movie universe. So who is he? How did he get his powers? Why are there three Blue Beetles? Let’s find out. 

Dan Garrett: Birth of the Blue Beetle

[The Blue Beetles, Booster Gold, and Black Beetle have passed two villains while time traveling]
Jaime:Do you think they saw us?
Dan:We’re five grown men dressed in bright colors inside a clear plastic bubble set against a rainbow background, Jaime. They saw us.

Booster Gold #0 (2008)

The first Blue Beetle debuted in Mystery Men Comics #1 in 1939. He was created by Will Eisner and Charles Nicholas. The character leaped between publishers, spanning Fox Comics, Holyoke Publishing, and Charlton Comics before landing at DC Comics.

Dan Garrett was a police officer whose father was killed by gangsters. He met a scientist who created a drug to give people superhuman strength. Garrett used the drug to become a vigilante called The Blue Beetle. He fought crime while being pursued by his unsuspecting police partner.

Blue Beetle was popular, but inconsistent. His costume and powers were changed with each appearance. A cohesive version was introduced when Charlton Comics took over. Dan Garrett was now an archeologist who found a blue scarab in the tomb of Pharaoh Kha-Ef-Re. By shouting “Khaji Da”, Garrett became the Blue Beetle.

The reinvention didn’t last long. Garrett fought an android army created by mad scientist Jarvis Kord alongside Kord’s good-natured nephew, Ted. Garrett died destroying the army and asked an agreeable Ted to succeed him.

Ted Kord: Scientific Successor

Blue Beetle:You want me to join you. That’s why you’re telling me all this. Join or die time, is that it?
Maxwell Lord: [draws a gun] “That’s it exactly.”
Blue Beetle:Rot in Hell, Max.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis

The second Blue Beetle debuted in Captain Atom #83 in 1966. He was created by Steve Ditko, who drew from his experiences writing Spider-Man for the revamped hero.

Ted Kord couldn’t get the scarab to work, so he turned to technology to fight crime. He created many tools, most notably an airship called The Bug. Blue Beetle partnered with fellow Charlton heroes Captain Atom, The Question, and Nightshade to form The Sentinels of Justice.

The Charlton heroes were brought to the DC Universe following The Crisis on Infinite Earths. Blue Beetle joined Justice League International, but Ted was goofy and irresponsible while on the team, often pulling pranks and get-rich-quick schemes with his best friend, Booster Gold. Blue Beetle eventually quit over health issues.

Ted was lured back to heroics after discovering a conspiracy to kill every superhero. No one believed him because of his past behavior so he investigated by himself. He discovered that the culprit was the League’s manager and fifth columnist, Maxwell Lord. Ted was murdered, but his investigation alerted the Justice League to Lord’s plan.

Jaime Reyes: Rebirth of the Blue Beetle

Jaime:What is that thing?
Scarab:Appellaxian Golem.”
Jaime:You know, I’m bilingual and I still have no idea what you just said.
Scarab:Irrelevant. Attack!
Jaime:OK, that I get!

Young Justice “Salvage” (Season 2, Episode 4)

The final Blue Beetle debuted in Infinite Crisis in 2006. He was created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hammer.

Jaime Reyes was a teenager living in El Paso. He found Garrett’s scarab during a disaster and brought it home with him. That night, it crawled onto Jaime and attached itself to his spine. Booster Gold, tracking the scarab, found Jaime and reluctantly recruited him for a mission. To everyone’s surprise, the scarab created a suit of armor around Jaime, allowing him to become the new Blue Beetle.

The scarab caused Blue Beetle to involuntarily teleport after seeing two Green Lanterns. He reappeared one year later and told his secret to family and friends who helped him become a hero.

Blue Beetle learned that the scarab is an alien warsuit instead of a mystic relic. It was sent to Earth by The Reach, subversive aliens who deploy scarabs as infiltrators to soften worlds for conquest. The Reach have a loose truce with the Green Lanterns, which is why the scarab teleported Jaime. 

Earth’s scarab was damaged in transit and further corrupted by magic, causing it to only respond to its name: Khaji Da. Jaime helped Khaji Da break free from Reach control and become a hero. With both sides in sync, Blue Beetle was ready to face The Reach’s invasion.

Fab Four: Blue Beetle’s Powers and Personality

Khaji Da: Jaime Reyes. First to activate full infiltrator mode. Query: how did he learn the words? Answer: <I> told him. Infiltrator function “Khaji”, subnotation “Da”. Not a command. My serial number. But I am the first <case zero> of my kind to claim it as my name. First to have a friend. My name = Khaji Da. Jaime Reyes = Blue Beetle.

Blue Beetle #24 (2008)

Dan Garrett had superhuman strength, speed, and durability. He often gained other powers, including sizeshifting, speaking underwater, and telepathy. Garrett had little personality beyond heroic with occasional snarky comments.

Ted Kord had no superpowers, but was a skilled acrobat and trained in martial arts by Batman. He used a grappling hook, stun gun, and his weaponized airship, The Bug. Ted was fun-loving and clever, but had depression near the end of his life.

Jaime Reyes has Khaji Da’s full power and frequently has to talk the scarab into using proportionate force instead of WMDs. Jaime has a strong sense of community, with half of El Paso knowing his secret identity and serving as his support network.

Khaji Da is what would happen if Venom bonded with Iron Man. It can create any weapon the host thinks of and free other scarabs from Reach control. Damage prevented it from working effectively for Dan Garrett, explaining the shifting powers and costumes. It was self-repairing and unresponsive while Ted was Blue Beetle. Jaime was the first to master and redeem Khaji Da.

The Actors Who Play The Blue Beetles

Dan Garrett

Frank Lovejoy – Blue Beetle (Radio Serial)

Ted Kord

Sebastian Spence – Smallville
Wil Wheaton – Batman: the Brave and the Bold
Matt Lanter – DC Showcase: Blue Beetle

Jaime Reyes

Will Friedle – Batman: the Brave and the Bold
Eric Lopez – Young Justice
Jake T. Austin – Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Xolo Maridueña – Blue Beetle (2023)

Didya Get All That?

A quartet of heroes who get by with a little help from their friends.

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