Blue Beetle Graduation Day #2
Jaime Reyes arrives in beautiful Palmera City for a gap year with his tías working at their restaurant. But Jaime’s got another thing on his mind, like who was that mysterious Yellow Beetle, and how are they connected to the Reach message that bombarded his scarab? Can Blue Beetle track down this new scarab, or will this super-heroing bring the full might of the Justice League down on Jaime?
Jaime Reyes’ parents kicked him out for the summer and sent him to live with his aunt and work in her diner so he can’t loaf around like a kid all summer. At the same time Superman has forbidden Jaime from doing any superheroing as Blue Beetle, effectively telling him he’s not ready for that adult responsibility at the moment. Understandably, this has put a damper on his summer. And in Blue Beetle Graduation Day #2 we also see that it’s left him unprepared for threats facing both him and the rest of the world.
He may be putting on a brave face for his friends back home, but Jaime is hating his time in Palmera City. The job at the diner is taking up a lot of his time and making him miserable, and he has no one to hang out with when he’s off work. Respecting Superman’s wishes that he not do anything as Blue Beetle isn’t helping matters. The one shining spot is that Palmera City is where Kord Industries is based, and Ted Kord is interested in giving Jaime an internship. But before those details can be worked out, Jaime is attacked by another scarab holder.
The story Trujillo is telling in Blue Beetle Graduation Day is thematically perfect for this point in Jaime’s life. Society may look on high school graduates as adults, but that doesn’t mean they have any idea who or what they’re going to be yet. This a perfect mirror for where Jaime is in the second issue. In the second issue he wants to be Blue Beetle but he’s been told not to be and he doesn’t want to work in food service but he’s been told he has to. Also his connection with Khaji Da is off–a rather literal example of sometimes not knowing who you are. But fortunately there is someone who is interested in what Jaime wants.
Ted Kord’s appearance in Blue Beetle Graduation Day #2 is well timed. Trujillo doesn’t introduce him until we’ve been given a good understanding of how Jaime is feeling in his current status quo. There’s just enough time to get a feel for what his mood is, so when Ted makes the offer Jaime’s improvement in mood immediately resonates with us. This sounds like an obvious thing, but a six issue mini-series only affords so much space. Trujillo devotes about a third of the book to a character thread that seems primarily concerned with getting us into Jaime’s head rather than forwarding the plot. If the internship is a key part of the plot, it would have been simple to jump right into that instead of giving us two pages of Jaime trying to sound very “up” as he describes Palerma City to his friends back home even as he hates being there. But those two pages make a huge difference in how we appreciate Jaime getting the internship.
Another area where Trujillo very effectively develops the characters is the frequent use of Spanish to show off that Jaime and his family are bilingual. This happened in a few panels in the first issue, but in this issue it features throughout. It informs the characters’ cultural connections and their environment. If Trujillo used the tried-and-true comic technique of putting brackets around English text and an asterisk explaining that it was translated from Spanish, the use of the language wouldn’t amount to much for the reader. But using the actual language informs the characters in a way that bracketed English doesn’t.
As he did with the first issue, Gutiérrez’s work in Blue Beetle Graduation Day #2 makes for a fun read. Jaime is expressive, sometimes wildly so. Gutiérrez draws him like the kind of person whose emotions are constantly infectious. It adds to the fun later in the issue when Jaime and Ted are together. Gutiérrez’s art alone could tell us how much fun these two can have together–how much of a natural fit they can be.
Quintana’s colors and Gattoni’s letters further add to the experience by matching Jaime’s expressive movements with a vibrant environment. Palmera City is a lively backdrop. And Quintana always colors Jaime so that his clothes contrast with the background or he fades the background relative to Jaime. In each case it serves to make Jaime really pop on the page.
Blue Beetle Graduation Day #2 is a comic that will make you smile. A bigger story is coming (the end of the issue is a good cliffhanger) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun comic with an easy to relate to character who wants to have a good time during the summer. In fact, as someone generally unfamiliar with the character, that’s made getting into this book very easy. If you missed the first issue–don’t miss this one. You won’t regret it.
Blue Beetle Graduation Day #2: The Bad Summer Break
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10