Secret Origins #2: Blue Beetle

Ryan Daly and guest host Tim Wallace review issue #2 of Secret Origins, which tells the story of two different superheroes called Blue Beetle.

Listen to Episode 2!

Subscribe to the Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins #2, written by Len Wein with art by Gil Kane, plus House Ad for Blue Beetle ongoing series that appeared in Secret Origins #3, art by Paris Cullins.

#2cover #2page1 #2page8 #2page12 #2page23 #3advert

Check out Tim Wallace’s Blue Beetle blog, Kord Industrieshttp://kordindustries.blogspot.com

“Premonition” (Theme from Secret Origins Podcast) by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by Bad Religion.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

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16 thoughts on “Secret Origins #2: Blue Beetle

  1. Another great episode. I love the Beetle too, and of course, Tim was a must here.

    It’s okay to flip-flop on Gil Kane, I think he kind of flip-flopped on HIMSELF. I read an interview with him in Comics Journal once where he said he felt like a hack sometimes. Seems like a self-deprecating fellow, also going by that House of Mystery story where he drew himself as a prima donna who gets trapped inside his work by demons after his editor rants about how poor the previous story was. Like a lot of Silver Age greats, his art by the 80s was pushed to an extreme you’ll either love or hate, sometimes shifting from one to the other in between readings. Like Infantino’s, Ditko’s and Kirby’s, love it or hate it, it’s absolutely distinctive. It can’t be anyone else. That said, yes, the cover isn’t great, but the splash page is, you’re right.

    Okay, back to the ‘cast.

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  2. Off the topic a little bit, and I’m DVD-waiting all the CW shows (so I haven’t seen Arrow Season 3, nor Flash beyond the pilot), but I’ve hated the Laurel character since Day 1. Sarah was much better. Still, no one beats Arrow’s Huntress for sheer awfulness. Just terrible..

    Didn’t know Routh was playing Ted Kord in all but name, but can’t wait to discover it!

    Recommendations: I loved the Len Wein/Paris Cullins stuff. Just fun superhero comics like they don’t make enough of anymore, but I would also mention the Charlton Ted Kord stories, because they were my first contact with BB, through the Modern Comics reprints, so cheap at flea markets of my youth (including his first back-up in a Captain Atom). Sad DC never used the Squid Gang, though the Madmen did eventually feature. Nice Ditko action across the board.

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  3. I got this issue years later in the $1 box of my LCS so I came to it post solo-series, ‘Bwa-ha-ha’ JLA, and Ted’s murder at the hands of Max Lord. I very much enjoyed to dual nature of this origin story covering both Beetles in a single story (as opposed to the split issues Golden/Modern origins coming up in this book).

    There are plenty of artists whose work I didn’t ‘get’ as a kid who subsequently became masters to the wiser older Anj. Kubert (too rough for young Anj), Ditko (too simple for young Anj), and Kirby (too blocky for young Anj) all have risen to Mt. Rushmore status for me now. In particular, Ditko is pure joy to me.

    Somehow, Gil Kane never made that leap. While I don’t dislike his work, it never resonates.

    As for Beetle, I liked what I saw in Crisis and ended up buying his solo series for about a year and a half. I liked the free-wheeling action and the early art. The Question team-up Tim brings up was really my introduction to the Question. I thought the costume gimmick was great. And the Beetle story was enough for me to buy the Question series by O’Neill (which is about as far away from this fun comic as you can get).

    Anyways, great show. Looking ahead, can’t wait to hear you gush about the Bingham art on Shazam.

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    1. Anj: Kubert is the only one on the list whose work I liked from the word go, and today, he’s my favorite comics artist of all time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Tim and the other guy! Really enjoyed this episode of the Secret Origins Podcast! I’ve been a Ted Kord fan since first encountering him in Crisis, so it was a joy following you down memory lane. Blue Beetle’s Fox and Charlton adventures are completely unknown to me, besides what I read on Tim’s blog.
    A few random thoughts for you:
    1) I hated the treatment Dan Garrett received towards the end of the Blue Beetle ongoing. He came back from the dead to battle Ted Kord. Just didn’t sit well with me. It felt like someone bringing back the Golden Age Superman after Crisis, just to have him die in some unnecessary story (thank goodness that never happened).
    2) The death of Ted Kord outraged me. Straight up outrage. Probably the first hint of my eventual divorce from DC Comics 10 years later.
    3) I enjoyed Jaime Reyes pre-New 52 adventures! It was a fun comic, and since Keith Giffen had been involved in his creation, it almost felt like he received the previous Ted Kord creative team’s blessing. Also, the Christmas special story Tim referenced is one of my favorites!
    4) Believe it or not, the scarab being of alien origin did NOT come out of left field with Jaime Reyes. The alien origins go back to Ted Kord’s ongoing series. The only reason I know is that it’s referenced in WHO’S WHO UPDATE ’87 #1, which I happen to be reading and taking notes from for some unknown reason right now.
    5) Brandon Routh is actually playing Ted Kord, but been misnamed Ray Palmer?!?! When you said that, it was a like football stadium lights being turned on in my head. Of course he’s Ted Kord!! That makes sooooooooo much more sense than Ray Palmer. Given his goofy portrayal, I simply wrote him off as Ray Palmer. Now it makes perfect sense. I may have to rewatch his appearance on the Flash now.

    Thanks again for such an entertaining episode! Looking forward to the next episode! So far having Chris and Tim on the show has been fantastic! Can’t wait for future guest hosts. I hear the guy guesting on episode 4 is completely brilliant, handsome, suave, and irredeemable!

    The Irredeemable Shag
    Fire & Water Podcast
    Who’s Who Podcast
    Firestorm Fan.com
    Ryan’s Super Bestest Friend Ever
    etc.. etc..

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  5. I’m really glad everyone enjoyed it! I don’t know if you could tell or not but I was nervous as hell! My very first podcast appearance…but hopefully not the last.

    Great feedback, glad to know the Question story and that Christmas story connected with other readers too!

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  6. Catching up on podcasts after a week of vacation, so I’m late to the party. Great episode Ryan and Tim! I bought this one right off the stands, so this was my first issue of Secret Origins! I passed it along to my pal Grover since he was a HUGE Blue Beetle fan and had every issue of the Wein run, but missed out on this issue. I read the Wein/Cullins series via his copies, and really enjoyed it.

    I’ve always liked Gil Kane’s dynamism, but some his 80s work looked…messy. I liked the energy he brought to Superman, but it was such a contrast to Curt Swan’s clean style it seemed wrong. I prefer Kane with another ink to polish, but not overpower, his pencils. But no one drew a better thrown punch than Kane. Not even Kirby!

    I think the original editor of the Charlton-specific Silver Age Blue Bettle was a guy named Pat Masuli. He got kicked up stairs, and Giordano took over, but I think this was after Garrett’s series was cancelled. He had worked on the Garrett BB series, though. That’s probably why the Garrett issues aren’t in the DC Action Heroes archives…they weren’t edited by Giordano.

    Also, in Michael Eury’s excellent Dick Giordano: Changing Comics One Day at a Time, Giordano reveals that Paul Levitz purchased the Charlton characters as a present to him. Giordano was given the characters to work with, but his corporate responsibilities stalled and eventually cancelled an in-progress weekly series featuring BB and the Charlton characters called alternately “Blockbuster Weekly” and “Comic Cavalcade Weekly”, I believe.

    Dan Garrett never got much action in the DCU. The only time I can really think of him being used was in JLA: Year One, and he was treated pretty badly. Not a really shining moment for him there.

    Tim is right about Dixon’s plans for Tim Drake to become a new Blue Beetle under Ted. Dixon established Ted had a heart condition, and couldn’t go out in tights anymore. Dixon’s plan was for Stephanie Brown to become Robin, and Tim to become BB for awhile. His editors nixed the whole thing, and mounting frustrations led Dixon to jump ship to CrossGen (remember them?). No sooner did he leave…voila, Stephanie Brown became Robin, under different creators.

    Looking back now the death of Ted Kord does look like a manifesto from the dark and gritty DC DiDio and eventually Johns would build. No room for “clowns”. I hated it. It was senseless, gory and tasteless, and there was MUCH more of that to come.

    Looking forward to hearing Tim come back to talk Legion!

    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never really tied Blue Beetle’s death to Elongated Man’s, but you’re right, that’s totally the same agenda.

      Like

  7. I wanted something to listen to while finally trying to tackle the social media stuff from the podcasts that I’ve avoided for over a month by just creating new podcasts (and I’m still at it. We’ll handle the Wonder Woman secret origin on her third episode– first one’s up, but not yet on iTunes.) So, I’m listening to the Blue Beetle SO for the second time to reply…

    1) Immediately paused to look for a Phantom podcast. No luck. That’s a character I think looks cool, and I’ve read a few stories/seen cartoons, but would prefer to passively receive audibly.

    2) Space Adventures was the original home of Captain Atom, as well.

    3) I heard the same story as Chris about the Charlton properties being purchased as a “gift” to Giordano for mere thousands of dollars each. There’s a sly reference to “Blockbuster” in the not-yet-letters column of this issue.

    4) Gil Kane was one of the first artists I could recognize as a distinct creator growing up, and not always in a good way at that point, but the older I get the more I adore his work. There are panels in this issue that are loose, even a little sloppy, and I still marvel at what he can convey with just a few well placed squiggles.

    5) Gil Kane drew the Captain Mar-Vell series and I believe some Avengers issues that featured a Rick Jones that did not look dissimilar from his take on Ted Kord.

    6) Now that Marvel Studios and Chris Evans have made Captain America popular again, I get to read a lot of sneering articles about how boring Cap is (and in one case, how un-“f”-ably boring, which is an obvious lie because Chris Evans) and it makes me want to line up rows of their faces for The Slapping. Heroes with complex or circumstantial motivations are fine, and I’d probably prefer them in the more black and white world Blue Beetle was conceived in, but now that popular fiction is drowning in that type I prefer the simple joys of a man of action fighting the good fight. It feels pretty sweet to do the right thing and kick ass while you’re doing it, and sometimes that’s more than enough. I wonder too if the depression era kids knew they had to work and hustle to accomplish things, while the boomers expected everything handed to them as an entitlement, even their superheroics. That said though, Dan Garrett’s a crazy person and should probably have died before he ever got to that scarab, but he seems like fun to have around at story time.

    7) I wonder if Dan Garrett is another MPD identity of Marc Spector?

    8) I’m heartened to recognize that a Gil Kane drawn Vile Menagerie circa 1986 would have still blown Blue Beetle 1.5’s away, but not so sure an Atom one drawn today could. Don’t think Chronos or the Bug-Eyed Bandit would offer serious competition. Beetle needed a thicker outline to pop more.

    9) Forget these other guys– Uncle Jarvis has the most intimidating look, probably because he’s basically Gil Kane’s Savage, by which I mean Lee Marvin.

    10) I like the two-fisted simplicity of Dan’s origin, while Ted Kord’s is a hot mess of bad decisions and unlikely coincidences. I’ve never actually cared for Ted, but this story made the goal of gentle indifference that much more distant. Yuck.

    11) One of my customer friends once said that the Steve Ditko Beetle design was one of the best in comic book history. I can see where someone could say that, but it really leaves me cold. I hate the bug-eyed goggles, the sparse yellow highlights, and the two tones of blue. I don’t get the BB Gun as part of a Beetle theme, either.I feel like Ditko was trying to recreate Spider-Man more to his own preferences, and I should be able to appreciate that, but he instead feels like half of a character I already dislike. I must say too that I’ve never read Ditko’s BB, which could turn my opinion around 180, as my constant criticism of DC’s takes on their acquired characters is a matter of public record. Charlton Garrett sounds like fun, too.

    12) I had the full season of Arrow DVR’d for the Atom. I watched the one with his debut, then sat on the rest until I had to switch out cable boxes and lose the lot. Based on where I saw advertisements go with “The Atom” in nothing but name, don’t feel like I actually lost anything.

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  8. I first encountered Blue Beetle in a house add, for the Charlton Bullseye, at Charlton Comics. My first Charlton was an issue of The Phantom and that add appeared in there and I found the Bug and Ted swinging below to be really cool; but, never saw that issue, or any of the Charlton action heroes, for years. Then, I was looking through a stack of comics that my cousin had and he had a Blue Beetle, which retold the origin (I think, I haven’t looked at my Charlton scans to see which issue it was), with the passing of the torch from Dan Garett to Ted Kord. It was a great little story that stuck in my head. I loved seeing Ted in Crisis, though I wanted more of the entire gang. I have to admit, though, I never picked up the Len Wein and Paris Cullens series. i don’t know why, other than I was busy, in college, when it came out. i did flip through the issue with the Question, as his look always fascinated me. I did enjoy the character in Justice League, though. I tend to agree that his ignominious death was kind of a demarcation line between fun comics at DC and the violent garbage that followed. i wasn’t reading much of their output anyway; but the stuff that followed sealed the deal. I loved the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode though, and would have loved to see a movie, cartoon, or tv series with that character. It was everything great about Ted and science heroes. It’s funny that as DC seemed to get darker and science heroes and jokesters became marginalized, the master of dark comics, Alan Moore, went the other direction, with characters like Tom Strong. If only DC had slavishly imitated his work from that period.

    I’m enjoying the podcast so far and look forward to more, especially Captain Marvel, which I will sample next.

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  9. I love the old Charlton heroes! Blue Beetle was probably the one who was the least changed when purchased by DC, My introduction to the character was in the pages of JLI so going back and reading these comics have been a real treat. He isn’t a joke and a complete idiot in his own title! And I still shake my head over Ted’s unceremonious demise. Another great episode. I’m really enjoying the show and hope to catch up to y’all soon!

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