For a fella whose comic's been cancelled the Blue Beetle is certainly prominent - he's in Teen Titans every month, has a strip in the back of Booster Gold and here he is co-starring in Brave and Bold. Mind, I'm not surprised DC creators like the character so much: he has an interesting look, great supporting cast and, most importantly, a thoroughly engaging personality. His youthful perspective and sense of humour has Jaime Reyes stealing any story he appears in.
Probably the least interesting thing about him is his abilities. While the alien scarab grafted to his body is an intriguing set-up, its ability to generate whatever tech, shielding or blast Jaime needs is a tad convenient at times. I've never been a big fan of hi-tech heroes, for example, I've only ever followed Iron Man when the sub-plots engaged my attention, such as during the Michelinie/Layton years. Personality is prime.
So I was intrigued to see how a story co-starring another armoured guy, Hardware, would work out. I only know him from his recent JLA appearances, where he contributed to an interesting dynamic. Here? Not so much. Arrogant, obnoxious, not actually very effective for an inventing prodigy - he's a charm black hole, taking panel time away from a more engaging character.
The story didn't help. Instead of a nice uncluttered showcase for both characters, writer Adam Beechen is apparently leaning heavily on Hardware's back story. His foes the System are to the fore, as Hardware tackles their operatives in battlesuits built to test his prowess. This leads to stereotypically soulless captions. If someone is about to blast a hero, it's 'Omnicannon deployed. stun shell on target.'and all that palava. Very boring. As are the pages devoted to the System wallahs observing and blethering, though some interest is added via the addition of a mysterious 'consultant' from somewhere in the DCU. It turns out to be the recently introduced, less visually interesting son of someone I never knew had
a son - that'll teach me to ignore a Cyborg (armoured hero with added angst, saints preserve me, I'll take Pantha or Danny Chase any day) mini series, .
The main point of the story - decently illustrated by Roger Robinson and Hilary Barta - is that a Milestone Comics hero learns a grudging respect for a DC character by story's end. Same as last issue's Black Lightning/Static team-up, but that was a fun read. Here I found myself wondering why Jaime might ever want to work with Hardware again. He's not so much Hardware as Hardwork.
The final page bears the legend: The end . . . FOR NOW.;
I'll take: The end . . . FOR EVER.