Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ted Kord, Not Only Merely Dead, But Really Most Sincerely Dead, or Why I Don't Like You, Jaime Reyes

I was reading the lastest issue of Booster Gold last night, which took us on another nostalgia trip back to the Blue & Gold years:
(Enlarge and read the note by the asterisk down by the bottom, by the way.  It makes me like DeMatteis all the more.)

It finally hit me why the JLI writers Giffen and DeMatteis were moved to this book.  I don't know where Juergens is at the moment, but I miss him here, even though I enjoy the JLI antics.  It's gotta feel weird to be taken off the character whom you created.  But that's an issue for another day.

I can't help but feel Booster Gold is becoming--and I can't find the right word for this but I know one exists--just a few crumbs given to the Ted Kord fans to make us stop asking for his return to regular continuity.  I'm sure this is what the DC Editors would say to me if I asked about Ted Kord coming back: "Well, we're not bringing him back, but we'll let you have Time Travel stories, so shut up already."

Now, to this day (which is all of a year's worth of serious comic book reading...a long time, I know) I can't figure out why DC decided to kill off Ted Kord and replace him with Jaime Reyes.  I dont't know why they killed off Ronnie Raymond and replaced him wth Jason Rusch, either, or why the Dibneys were killed off.  There are some things I just don't get and I'm going to chalk them up to editors picking named out of a hat, because that's the only logic I can find in all of this character-killing-off and screwing-with-a-formula-that-works.

All the hopes I had of Ted Kord coming back were dashed by news that a live action Blue Beetle TV show is in the works.  That's it.  That's the death knell for Ted Kord.  Becuase once you get the kids hooked on one incarnation of a character, you're never going back to the previous owner of the mantle.  It started out with Jaime's frequent guest appearances in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  Jaime seems like he would really appeal to kids under twelve, since he's all beetle-y and scarab-y and technology-y and can do all kinds of cool things.  But try as I might (okay, I didn't really try that hard.  Actually, I didn't try at all) I just can't seem to like the guy.

Here's the main reason why I don't like him, and is also the reason I don't believe he fits in the DC universe:

1.  Jaime Reyes didn't choose to be a superhero.

Choosing to be a hero, for me, is the most important critera for my liking or disliking a superhero.  Why?  Well, if you're doing something because you have no choice in the matter, is there really any point in doing it at all?  Besides, what's more heroic: doing it becuase you have to, or because you want to?

But, Liss!  You might be saying, you like The Martian Manhunter!  And he was transported to Earth against his will!  Well, invisible hypothetical sidekick, though J'onn J'onzz's situation was beyond his control, his choosing to be a hero was not.  To me, DC represents the ideal of making the most of a tough situation, and instead of choosing just to survive, characters choose to help other people out.  Characters who are chosen to be heroes water down the concept of sacrifice and doing good with one's life and amount to nothing more than automatons.  When Jaime was tapped by the scarab to be the next Blue Beetle, there was no mistake that he would become a superhero.  It was predestined.

This also takes away another fundamental aspect of superheorics and altruism.  For, if there's a choice, that means that that choice can also lead to evil and selfishness.  The same man (or alien) could use his or her powers for personal gain just as easily as he or she uses them for the greater good.  How many times are villains created as twisted mirror images of heroes...people whose lives went awry for whatever reason and chose the path of evil?  It's a lot easier to be bad than good, and evil is a lot more glamorous, as any Star Wars fan can tell you, so when someone chooses to devote their life to saving the world, I think that's a pretty weighty choice that takes some devotion.  Many villains could have been heroes if they were selfless enough, and some, in fact, were heroes at one point, and when life gave them a raw deal, they chose to give up rather than to move on.  (i.e. Two-Face being the prime example of this.)

Did Jaime Reyes ever face that kind of choice, even as a side thought?  No.  The scarab chose him and there was no separating from it.  Not only that, but it literally tells him what to do, like a futuristic version of Jiminy Cricket, only with the power to kill him instead of just giving him a guilt trip if he chooses poorly.

Which brings me to the second reason I don't like Jaime Reyes and that's the big a-word: Angst.  He's stuck with this mystical scarab thing literally in his body, telling him what to do.  Occasionally it goes awry and makes him act violent.  Oh the angst!  Oh, the metaphors for the dangers of overdependence on technology!  He has no choice whether or not to be a hero!  He has to do the right thing!  Oh, it's so tragic!

Let me tell you what's tragic: some guy's whole planet getting burnt up by his own twin brother.  Or getting acid thrown in your face because you choose to prosecute a mobster.  Or trying to commit suicide because you were the only good man left in a wicked city and angels wouldn't give you a break and let you into the afterlife so now you're stuck living forever.  Or your parents getting gunned down by some random mugger after you went to the movies.  If the best example of tragedy in the 21st century is a teenager who's literally attached to his iPod, then I have no hope for ths century.

The third reason I that I think Jaime is "too cool" with all the technological wizardry that the scarab can perform.  The fourth reason is that he looks to much like a bug, and bugs scare me, and the fifth reason is that his nose disappears when he's in costume.  It makes no sense and it really bothers me!  And don't tell me it's just because he face turns black and it's an effect of lighting, because when he's drawn in profile, you can clearly see that he has no nose.  I don't know why, but it just really pisses me off.

So, anyway, that's my angry diatribe against Jaime Reyes.  I'm sorry if you're a fan of his.  But I don't know where DC's priorities are and what exactly their reasons were in creating him.  I don't know what they're saying about life and the human condition by the fact that a mystical beetle can attach itself to your back and make you do stuff.  To me, it says nothing.


Diabolu Frank said...

"I can't figure out why DC decided to kill off Ted Kord and replace him with Jaime Reyes."

Probably because the Blue Beetle mantle had already been established as a legacy that allowed for radical revision. The Ditko Beetle had never sold, and a humorous Blue & Gold series was never going to be given a chance by Dan Didio. The jerk wanted new brandings to spin out of One Year Later..., more minority heroes, and mileage out of killing Ted Kord.

"I dont't know why they killed off Ronnie Raymond and replaced him wth Jason Rusch"

As I said at DC Bloodlines, Ronnie Raymond wasn't the most sympathetic character and Firestorm's wasn't an uncomplicated continuity. Basically, see motivations above. I prefer Jason, myself.

"why the Dibneys were killed off"

This actually came off a list. Elongated Man was only created because Julie Schwartz didn't know DC had the rights to Plastic Man. Ralph had never operated solo with much success, and was at best the Tim Meadows of the various Justice League teams. Ralph's lackluster career put him in a dead pool that was given to Brad Meltzer for his murder mystery, and I can't think of a better choice within the perimeters of Identity Crisis.

My problem with Jaime Reyes is that he looks like Ben 10, and I didn't find him interesting after trying various issues and a trade. I have no ill will toward him, but I don't care about him either.

LissBirds said...

"My problem with Jaime Reyes is that he looks like Ben 10" I guess we're just not the right demographic to like Jaime Reyes. Maybe if I was under twelve I'd "get" him more?

The only reason I dislike Jaime Reyes is because as long as he's around there's no chance for Ted Kord coming back. If Ted Kord never existed or Jaime Reyes was his own hero, I probably wouldn't care either way. DC really needs to stop this "passing the mantle" thing, becuase it just polarizes the fanbase into those who like so-and-so and those who don't. (E.g. Ryan Choi, Dick Grayson, and the Firestorm thing.) Let minority, female, young, whatever heroes make it on their own steam and be their own heroes in their own right instead of copies of previous heroes.

Then again, Ted Kord took the mantle from Dan Garrett...but that was more like honoring an idol, and I think he made the role fully his own. Or I could just be full of crap.

And if you're going to pass the mantle, don't make it so obvious that it was based solely on personal editorial bias about a "new direction" or some such. Make it intrinsic to the story. Or am I asking too much?

ashez2ashes said...

And now Ted Kord never even existed at all...