Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4
Paco and Brenda are visiting Palmera City, but they aren’t alone. Jaime’s new foe, Fadeaway, comes seeking the Blue Beetle’s help! It’s time for a good old-fashioned heist! Their target? Kord Industries!
No one wants Jaime to spend the summer superheroing. Batman is keeping a watchful eye. Superman asked him to keep his head down and do the ordinary things a young guy out of high school does. Ted is trying to keep him out of trouble with an exciting internship. But Jaime just can’t stop trying to do his Blue Beetle thing–whether that means fighting other Beetles before a Reach invasion or, in Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4…teaming with one of his enemies to do good?
Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4 picks up with Jaime’s friends visiting Palmera City. And they’ve brought Jaime’s “archfoe” Fadeaway with them. Fadeaway’s grandfather, the original Fadeaway Man, possessed a number of mystical artifacts that he’d taken from a variety of people and communities. They’ve since been acquired by new owners, and Fadeaway is trying to steal them back for the rightful owners. Fadeaway claims they’re stealing the items for a good cause–to return the items to the original owners. And it turns out that one of the artifacts is held by none other than Victoria Kord. Taking Fadeaway’s claims at face value, Jaime agrees to use his intern security pass to help Fadeaway break into the building and steal the artifact.
The plot in Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4 is largely a departure from the first three issues. The Reach/Horizon story takes a backseat, really only touched on in a couple scenes featuring Ted and Victoria Kord. But Fadeaway’s plot does help build out Victoria’s character and background, specifically how she goes out of her way to acquire as much dangerous alien technology as possible. This adds a nice wrinkle to the larger story because Victoria does express skepticism about Jamie and his scarab, and it invites speculation about her motives. Even if it’s a red herring, Trujillo has given the reader reason to be suspicious of Victoria going forward which will add to the tension.
I was originally skeptical in the beginning of the issue when Fadeaway explained their plan as it sounded like Trujillo was simply going to incorporate a basic “the rich are dishonest thieves” idea as the main plot. While that in itself is not necessarily a bad basis for a story, it is one that is often presented superficially, having all the complexity of a Twitter thread. Thankfully Trujillo does not go this route. While this is Fadeaway’s stated goal when they recruit Jaime, their actions at the end of the issue leave unclear whether this was their actual motive. Additionally, this story component is what leads to further revelations about Victoria Kord.
Fadeaway’s stated motives and plan also plays into Jaime’s desire to do good as Blue Beetle despite being told to take time off. It’s believable that what Fadeaway says would appeal to a young hero, and it feels low stakes enough that Jaime would think he can get away with it and not upset the older heroes keeping an eye on him. My skepticism about this story component was unwarranted, though. Trujillo doesn’t make Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4 about this Robin Hood-esque idea so much as uses it as a vehicle to get to the more interesting meat of the issue and even make the reader question Jaime’s judgment.
Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4 brings in two of Jaime’s friends, Brenda and Paco, and it gives Gutiérrez an opportunity to draw a couple more characters that are as emotional and expressive as Jaime. This isn’t to say that the other characters have been static, but the way Gutiérrez draws Jaime communicates his youth which is just fun to see. Getting to see two more characters depicted in this energetic way helps keep the series fresh.
Gutiérrez’s depiction of Jaime and his friends also creates a nice contrast to Victoria Kord who the story casts a little suspicion on. Being so much more reserved than Jaime, his friends, and even Ted sets her apart. This obviously doesn’t mean Victoria is a bad actor, but it feels conspicuous.
Quintana’s coloring is again exceptional. He doesn’t get quite the same opportunity to shine as he did in the previous issues, but there are still standout panels–especially a sequence involving Yellow Beetle Dynastes. Even without something like the incredible Horizon spread from the previous issue, though, Quintana’s work is again a standout component of the issue that gives Gutiérrez’s art much more depth.
Gattoni likewise doesn’t get to show off as much as in the previous issue. There are only a few opportunities for sound effects, and Gattoni does color code them which has become standard, but most of his opportunities for creativity comes in dialogue with color highlights around names and emphasized words occasionally overflowing from dialogue bubbles.
Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4 delivers the fun once again. The Jaime character story is compelling, but so far Trujillo has kept it relatively light as he builds toward a potentially explosive ending. With this issue the series continues to be a visual feast as well. Indeed, I’m having a lot of fun with Trujillo’s story but I also have no problem just staring at Gutiérrez and Quintana’s rich pages. If you’re looking for a fun comic, this should be on your pull list.
Blue Beetle Graduation Day #4: The Robin Hood Beetle
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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