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Blue Beetle

DCD Kingdom Come
by yo go re

There were several warring "factions" in Mark Waid and Alex Ross's seminal Kingdom Come. Superman, having come out of retirement, formed a new Justice League, entreating the new generation of heroes to live up to his example. Lex Luthor led the Mankind Liberation Front, comprising villains who wanted to "save" the world - for themselves. Magog was the posterchild for the violent metahumans, whether they were heroes or villains. And of course, Batman formed his own team of Outsiders, with heroes who were neither too ruthless nor too naive to see where events were heading.

As an inventor brilliant enough Blue Beetle to build himself a flying beetle-shaped aircraft, it would seem possible, even probable, that Ted Kord's technical expertise could be applied to a flying, mechanized suit of armor to help him get around better in his old age and reflect more of the scarab beetle style. The original Blue Beetle's physical prowess derived from an ancient mystical scarab amulet, and it was incorporated here as a power source melded to the armor.

For most of the story, Ted was just a balding, frumpy guy in a suit (who looked to be based, though I bet he'd be reluctant to admit it, on Waid himself), but when it came time for the Outsiders to save the day, he donned his armor and got right in there to kick some ass. Because Ted, first and foremost, was a hero. When all the rogue metahumans that Superman's Justice League had thrown in the Gulag started a riot broke out, Batman got his crew together to make sure the lid stayed on tight. Blue Beetle spent most of the battle airborn, providing much-needed cover for his ground-based teammates.

abs of titanium It's almost a shame that Blue Beetle spent so much of the story in his civilian identity, because Ross did a great job designing this armor. The arms and legs look almost medieval, but the body is definitely modern. The panels are smooth and rounded - almost organic, and there are metal plates protecting his ribs. The scarab amulet serves as the belt buckle, and he's got a short chainmail skirt under armored circles on his hips. The mail is detailed simply but effectively - way to go, Karen Palinko! The paint is a nice two-tone blue, and every inch of it is applied very well.

The armor's helmet hugs the head tightly, mouth off and thick bands cover the wearer's face. The eyes are protected by big blue lenses, and a tiny pair of mandibles comes together in front of the chin. The facemask flips up so that Ted's mouth and nose are exposed; in the comic, he lifted it when he wanted to get a better view at something. give 'em shell Really, it was more of a mental thing than any neccessary movement - it was probably just in there so Ross could show off one of the features of his design... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Beeb could fly thanks to the giant wings sprouting from his backpack, a feature this figure has as well. Er, the wings, not the flight. Much like Jaime Reyes' get-up, Ted has a carapace on his back. The two horns on the sides of the thing could fire lasers, and the shell split to let the wings out. This figure's shell piece is folded shut, but it can be removed and replaced by an open set. The wings are translucent, which shows off their overlapping pattern. Once the backpack is in, though, don't try removing it - you'll just break the peg. You'll have to be content with just swapping the wings. Pulling the closed shell out of place can be tough, since there are two thick pegs holding it steady, but just be persistant.

fly, fatass, fly!

The figure stands 6¼" tall, though his backpack takes that up to 7½", an extra Beetle and he has an 11" wingspan. Other than the facemask and the two points of articulation in each wing, Blue Beetle moves at the neck, shoulders, forearms and hips. None of those are balljoints, sadly, but that's what we always get from the Kingdom Come figures, even in this Elseworlds series. The armor flaps on his shoulders are hinged, so they don't interfere with the joints. In a first for the KC figures, the insert behind the figure shows the character - the cardboard backdrops are always taken from the covers of the first three issues, with those famous crowd scenes that Ross painted so well. But usally the figure in the package doesn't appear anywhere in the background. Beetle's background is from the cover of #3, and there he is, big and bold on the left side of the shot. Weird. He also comes with one of those plain black oval bases, but his feet don't fit on it, so it's nearly useless.

The fanboys got pissy when Ted Kord died at the beginning of Infinite Crisis, He's coming to get you, Barbara... er, Ted. but he went out like a true hero. He wasn't killed in his sleep, or to send a message to a more important character - he was doing what no one else wanted to, because he knew it needed to be done. The same could be said of his appearance in Kingdom Come: he's fighting the good fight, but eventually we see the Black Racer (the goofball personification of death that Jack Kirby created for the New Gods) approaching over Ted's shoulder, and we know what's going to happen. But again, he went out like a hero. So let the fanboys bitch; Ted's time is over, but that doesn't mean there aren't still a few good stories out there for him.


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