The original Blue Beetle was a Golden Age superhero, originally published by the Fox Feature Syndicate. He first appeared in Mystery Men Comics (August, 1939). Dan Garrett started out as a rookie cop whose father was killed by gangsters. He got super strength from Vitamin 2-X, although he could be knocked out by a blow on the head. The Golden Age Blue Beetle soon got his own magazine. He had a reasonably long run of lurid, violent adventures where he fought gangsters, gorillas, reanimated mummies, etc. He even had his own short-lived Radio Drama. But sales begun dropping in the late 1940s. There were gaps of several months between some issues. Then the series got cancelled for good in August, 1950.
Eventually Charlton Comics bought the first Blue Beetle, at first only reprinting his old stories. When The Silver Age of Comic Books came around, they revamped him as an archaeologist who unlocked the powers of a mystical artifact he found in a pyramid. This mystical artifact was a bright blue Scarab amulet. Shouting a word caused the powers to activate, and Dan would find himself in blue and red themed armor, shooting lightning from his hands and flying. (Although he could still be knocked out by a blow to the head. Hey, it's better than yellow.) Dan was a pretty awesome Charlton character. The character held his own series from June, 1964 to February/March, 1966.
Then he died. Cue his friend, Ted Kord, millionaire and technical genius, who took the Scarab and the Blue Beetle mantle. Kord was introduced in the backpages of a title devoted to Captain Atom. He first appeared in #83 (November, 1966). He appeared there until #86 (June, 1967). Then got his own magazine, lasting from June, 1967 to November, 1968. After that the character mostly appeared in anthology titles. Ted didn't have any powers - the Scarab didn't seem to work for him, so he made up for it by using his neat gadgets to fight crime anyway. If he resembled another wisecracking acrobatic bug-themed superhero a bit, that wasn't too surprising as he was created by Steve Ditko after he left Marvel.
In the 1980s, Charlton licensed most of its superheroes to AC Comics, only to sell them to DC a few months later. Ted made his DC debut as a reader point of view character in Crisis on Infinite Earths and was integrated into The DCU shortly thereafter. Holding his own title from June, 1986 to May, 1988. He got to be a member of the Justice League (international), get lots of Ho Yay with Booster Gold, and be an all-around Fan Favorite. Then Max Lord Dropped a Bridge on Him. Boom! Headshot!! The character was killed in the one-shot Countdown to Infinite Crisis (May, 2005).
Cue the third Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes. The new character first appeared in Infinite Crisis #3 (February, 2006). He found the Scarab lying on the ground in his home town El Paso. Jaime took it home, and overnight it crawled into him and attached itself to his spine. He soon found himself speaking a language he didn't know, transforming into a much more advanced tech version of the Blue Beetle armor, and whisked away to save the universe in Infinite Crisis. The character held his own series from May, 2006 to February, 2009.
Unlike Dan and Ted, Jaime never Jumped At the Call, he got shoved. This Blue Beetle retconned the Scarab into something technological, not magical (though magic plays a big part in his series, and it is said that Dan activated the Scarab using magic which seriously screwed with it). Jaime's series is notable for 1) being made of awesome, 2) not getting nearly enough readers, and 3) managing to make Jaime integrate himself into the Blue Beetle name and The DCU really well.
Although Jaime's solo series was canceled, he returned as a back-up feature in Booster Gold - unfortunately, the back-up also got canceled. Poor kid can't catch a break. That said, he did get to be a member of the Teen Titans (poor kid really can't catch a break), and more recently joined the reformed JLI in Justice League: Generation Lost.
Never quite as popular as some superheroes, the three Blue Beetles have managed to keep a legacy with very little similarity in powers and even personalities, but all three have been rather likable, and all three have been fun, rather than dark and edgy. Both Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes versions of the Blue Beetle have had appearances in Batman the Brave And The Bold (and a dead Garret gets a cameo). Jaime Reyes appeared as a central character in the Smallville episode "Booster", which also featured Ted Kord as a wealthy industrialist rather than a superhero. Dan Garrett got a shout-out. DC has announced interest in making a Live Action Adaptation starring Jaime Reyes. Jaime Reyes is currently a main character in season 2 of Young Justice, with Ted being mentioned as having been killed before Jaime ever found the Scarab.
Not to be confused with Harry Dresden's car, a blue V W Beetle that was named as a Shout-Out by the main character. Or the one from The Electric Company. Or another muscled, blue, arthropod-themed superhero.
- Captain Ersatz: In his very first appearance in Mystery Men Comics, he wore a suit and a mask that made him look an awful lot like the Green Hornet. He switched to a chainmail armor he's best remembered for in the next issue.
- Which only made him look like The Phantom.
- For the record, Nite-Owl I is based on this guy, NOT Batman.
- Though Nite-Owl II does resemble Batman.
- Badass Normal: What Dan Garret was before he saved Dr Franz.
- Crossover: When AC Comics briefly licensed Charlton's Action Heroes line, it established that the Charlton version of the character was the brainwashed version of the original. This would be the last time the character appeared in a modern-age comic (that is, until Project Superpowers came along).
- Damsel in Distress: Joan Mason wound up in this role a lot in Blue Beetle stories. She was more competent in her own feature, where Blue Beetle played a supporting role.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Invented a wrist-mounted communicator, his trademark beetle-insignia-projecting belt and (later) his gadget-ridden beetle-themed car.
- Inspector Javert: Dan's partner on the force, Mike Mannigan, started off as this. He eventually came around and turned into one of Blue Beetle's biggest fans.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Joan Mason, a crime reporter, loved Blue Beetle but didn't particularly care for Dan Garret.
- Public Domain Character: The only version of the character that qualifies as this (though DC holds the trademark, which limits his usage a bit); Project Superpowers gets around this by referring to him as "Big Blue".
- Sidekick: Sparky/Spunky, an American boy who was adopted by Lord Wellington of Suppleshire, England. Became Blue Beetle's sidekick after his adopted father sent him to United States to protect him from Nazi bombings.
- Spin-Off: Joan Mason starred in her own feature back in the mid 1940s. It was notable for making her more competent then she often wound up being when Blue Beetle was around, solving lots of crimes all on her lonesome. Dan Garret made a few appearances in his civilian guise, but he wasn't all that essential to the plot.
- Super Serum: Vitamin 2-X, a wonder-drug developed by Dr. Franz, a pharmacist he once saved.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: How Dan found the Scarab in the first place.
- Clothes Make the Superman: The Scarab gives Dan magical armor.
- Color Character
- Captain Ersatz: The Scarlet Scarab (and a bit of Spider-Man, but less than other incarnations) in Marvel Comics, plus Nite-Owl I in Watchmen.
- Death by Cameo: Dan makes a single appearance in Batman the Brave And The Bold... as a dead body.
- Shout-Out: Dan does not appear in the Smallville episode "Booster", but is given a shout-out that explains that he had been a scientist who studied the Scarab before it fell into Jaime's possession, and that he had died when the Scarab was removed from his spine.
- A Death in the Limelight
- Badass Normal: Ted's the only Blue Beetle without powers, but that never stopped him. He's like Batman who has fun.
- Some characters have theorized that the reason why the scarab didn't give Ted superpowers was because he didn't need them.
- Captain Ersatz: Nite-Owl II in Watchmen, and Spider-Man, as mentioned above.
- Color Character
- Cool Airship: "Bug".
- Crimefighting with Cash: Ted's equipment (Bug airship, numerous gadgets, BB gun etc.) is not cheap.
- Crossover: Ted had several adventures with the Question in the 60s and teamed up with the rest of Action Hero characters in AC Comics' Sentinels of Justice
- Dying to Be Replaced
- Evil Uncle: Jarvis Kord, who was his first enemy and the one responsible for Dan Garrett's death.
- Fun with Acronyms: Ted Kord was the CEO of Kord Omniversal Research and Development, Inc. For short, you can call it KORD, Inc.
- Gadgeteer Genius
- Genius Bruiser
- Heterosexual Life Partners and/or Ho Yay: Boostle
- Referenced in Booster Gold (v2) #25 when Jaime's little sister Milagro has Booster and Ted Kord dolls get married.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Rather than use his brutal death in the comics, the producers of Batman the Brave And The Bold opted to give Ted a heroic demise. Instead of catching a bullet to the brain, he sacrificed his life to detonate a rocket before it could hit Hub City.
- In Booster Gold after Booster manages to save Ted Ted decides to go back in time and face the death history intended for him because it would save Booster and stop the Black Beetle.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: The Blue Beetle guest starred on Batman the Brave And The Bold, voiced by Wil Wheaton.
- Signature Laugh: BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
- Take Up My Sword
- There Are No Good Executives: Averted, Ted was one of the few exceptions in the DC-verse.
- True Companions: The Justice League International team, aka the Superbuddies. Even after Ted dies, they still pull together to help out Jaime.
- Writer on Board: His creator was Steve Ditko, noted Objectivist. What do you think happened? Although, compared to some of the Objectivist characters Ditko would later create, this was downright subtle.
- Abusive Parents: Brenda. The fact that her father hits her is brought up very early in the series. We later find out that in the year Jaime was missing Brenda's father beat her so severely that she was hospitalized, prompting her Aunt Amparo (secretly the crime boss La Dama) to have him killed in a staged DUI so that she could get custody of her niece and give Brenda a safe home. Despite being into very illegal dealings otherwise it's indicated that La Dama is the only good parent Brenda has had since the death of her mother.
- Action Survivor
- Adaptive Armor: Jaime's suit.
- Artifact of Doom: The Scarab turns out to be one of these. Long assumed to be magical, it's actually a weapon left behind by a hostile alien race. And they want it back.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: Keith Giffen requested that the new Beetle be Hispanic because he had some ideas on what to do with a Hispanic teen hero in Texas.
- Almighty Mom: Bianca "Is that a giant green fist?" Reyes
- Anyone Can Die: Nadia in the last issue pre-Flashpoint.
- Badass Normal: Alberto and Bianca (Jaime's parents), Paco and Brenda, Peacemaker... Fanon holds that Badass runs in the Reyes family, which suggests Milagro, Jaime's little sister, is destined for big things.
- That Fanon maybe becoming Canon as a recent backup suggests that Milagro will be important, maybe more important then Jaime.
- Bad Boss: The Reach Negotiator, who at one point crushes an underling's skull just to get everyone's attention.
- Bilingual Bonus: Issue #26 is mostly in Mexican Spanish.
- BFG: The Blue Beetle suit can make so, so many different types of these. One of them is so powerful, it has theological implications.
- Captain Ersatz: If Ted Kord was similar to Spider-Man, Jaime is even more so!
- Made even more blatant in Smallville, where Jaime is portrayed as a shy dork who constantly gets bullied by his classmates before finding the Scarab.
- Clothes Make the Superman: The Scarab creates a combat suit for Jaime.
- Color Character
- Continuity Nod
- Crash Into Hello: How Jaime meets the Teen Titans, specifically Robin, though not a true instance of the trope
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Referenced when Jaime and Brenda talk to the son of THINKO!'s creator.
Brenda: "But...instead of robbing banks, why didn't he just market and sell his INCREDIBLY SOPHISTICATED ROBOT?"
Dr. Alan Von Neumann, Jr.: "Who can say? It was a different time and he's long dead, so you can't ask him."
- Doing In the Wizard: The revelation of the true origin of the "magic amulet". (Although even with this change, the first Blue Beetle did use magic to activate the scarab, which apparently wasn't that good for it. It is The DCU.)
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Of the two major Reach characters, one has a name and the other is just known as The Negotiator.
- Evil Counterpart: The Black Beetle, an enemy of Jaime's from some point in his future, who also uses a Reach scarab.
- He also has a villainous alternate universe counterpart in Batman the Brave And The Bold named Scarlet Scarab.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: The ending of the Reach arc features Jaime calling in favors from Traci 13, Dani Garrett, Oracle, Batman, and Robin even before the former JLI members show up.
- Good News, Bad News: For the fans-good news, Jaime gets a new series as part of the "New 52" DC relaunch; bad news, it's a Darker and Edgier reboot with very little of the charm and characterization of the original series.
- Green Lantern Ring: The Scarab, which was created to be one of the most versatile - and deadly - weapons in the universe, and in The DCU that's saying something. It has enough firepower to threaten cities, and one of its higher-level weapons has potential theological implications...
- Also, real Green Lanterns don't like being around it, with responses varying from "headache" to "homicidal urges." The GL Corps and the Reach have some history...
- Gratuitous Spanish: When most of the character are bilingual it's kinda expected.
- Henshin Hero: He's even insect themed.
- Heroic Host: Jaime and his Scarab.
- Hot Teacher: Helena Bertinelli, a young Gotham University professor Jaime meets in the Brave and the Bold.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: In issue #16, Eclipso uses magic to bring forth Jaime's "deepest, darkest fantasies of ultimate power". The result? She turns him into a dentist. Also a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: See the example directly above.
- Internal Homage: In Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Ted Kord died on his knees, with a gun to his head. In Blue Beetle #24, Jaime breaks out of the Reach's prison and scavenges clothing and equipment off the Reach he dispatches that end up putting him in something that greatly resembles Ted's costume. Then he's re-captured by the Big Bad, who puts him on his knees and puts a gun to his head in an obvious callback to Ted's fate. The cover made it explicit, showing the scene with Jaime repeating Ted's last words ("Rot in Hell!").
- Taken further in Justice League: Generation Lost #19. Maxwell Lord, the same man who killed Ted, seemingly kills Jaime by shooting him in the head. He doesn't give him a chance to say "Rot in hell" though.
- Just Between You and Me: Dr. Polaris spends an entire issue doing this in front of some Mooks.
- Kid with the Leash: The scarab practically borders on Sociopathic Hero. Jaime will have none of it.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the last Booster Gold/Blue Beetle backup, Paco complains about his favorite comic book being canceled. Brenda tries to comfort him with the fact that the main character's still in one of the team books, but it's just not the same.
- Magic Pants: As well as creating the combat suit, the Scarab's also able to make normal clothes for Jaime out of dust, discarded skin cells, and whatever other stray molecules happen to be around. The process usually ends up triggering Squick in anyone watching.
- Magical Girlfriend: Traci 13
- Male Gaze: Repeatedly used in the Brave and the Bold episode, "Night of the Huntress!" The subplot of the episode revolves almost entirely around Jaime's schoolboy crush on Huntress of the Birds of Prey.
- Averted in the comic when he meets the Teen Titans and doesn't recognize Supergirl. When she asks how he missed the huge red S he replies "I was raised not to stare."
- Motor Mouth: Dani Garrett. Nobody else can get a word in edgewise when she's on the page.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Most of the Scarab's suggestions.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: A surefire way to piss off Blue Beetle fans is to call Jaime "Jamie", just ask Linkara.
- Name's the Same: Not to be confused with JC Denton's doctor.
- Nice Guy: One of the most notable things about Jaime is his all-around good nature and overall genuine desire to do good, be good
- Never Mess with Granny: Jaime's grandma may be three feet tall and can't fight her way out of a paper bag, but you do not talk smack about Jaime or Blue Beetle in her presence.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Parodied with the scene where Guy Gardener gropes a waitress and the very next page starts out with "After the really cool bar fight".
- Offstage Villainy: La Dama. In the story that introduced her, she seemed at first to be abducting teens, but in the end it was revealed that she was sort of creating an Extranormal Institute. In an issue of the relaunched The Brave and the Bold where the Blue Beetle teamed up with Batman, an alien tried to sell her a superweapon, but it's unclear what law that breaks. (Receiving stolen property is a crime, but when one alien steals something from another alien while on another planet, good luck prosecuting.) That's it for her villainy, and on the other side she has been a doting mother figure to her niece and has played The Cavalry to Blue Beetle at least once. This nemesis just isn't all that bad.
- It's explained that Amparo ratcheted down her illegal activities immensely when her sister, Brenda's mother, got sick and she realized that she might actually have to become a good influence in the life of someone she cared about.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The scarab. In the climax of the Reach story, it's revealed that its name is Khaji Da.
- Oblivious Mockery: In one comic, Batman shows Jaime the Brother Eye satellite which went berserk and created an OMAC army in Infinite Crisis. Jaime asks what kind of person would build a machine like that, and Batman asks him not to let Green Arrow hear him say that (Batman was the one who built it).
- Ordinary High School Student: Jaime, one of the rare DC examples.
- Painful Transformation: Manifesting his armor hurts quite a bit after he got it re-installed/rebooted towards the end of his series (at least, in Teen Titans).
- Parental Abandonment: Averted. Jaime's parents are a big part of his life. They quickly learn his secret identity, and are both proud and supportive. Which probably makes it one of the greatest aversions in the history of heroic comic book teenagers. Not only do his parents know their son is a super hero, they are supportive of it! This was a big part of the appeal of the character to his fans.
- Person as Verb: "No. Do not try to conjugate "Antonio Banderas" as a verb."
- Person of Mass Destruction: Jaime's basically walking around with with a sentient and homicidal WMD grafted to his spine.
- Pick on Someone Your Own Size: The Reach, with regards to Jaime--and by extension, as Dawur points out, any planet they set out to conquer, as the Reach's targets tend to be races and cultures many levels of development below their own.
- Powered Armor
- Phlebotinum Rebel
- Retroactive Wish: The first appearance of Traci 13 to the comic.
Jaime: I just wish I could meet a cute girl who'd be okay with all the weird.
Traci 13: (teleporting into the room) Are you the Blue Beetle?
Paco: (jaw gaping) Say "I wish for a Porsche" before it wears off! Say "I wish for a Porsche" before it wears off!
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: "Sometimes I like to make my own sound effects. Is that so wrong?"
- Secret Keeper: So many that it's almost not a Secret Identity. By the end of his series, the group that knows the Blue Beetle's secret identity include his parents, little sister, grandmother, two best friends, two more teens recruited to help with the superhero stuff like Oracle, his girlfriend who's a superhero herself, a Badass Normal mentor, a local Anti-Villain crime lord, the Big Bad, Batman, Booster Gold, and Guy Gardner. Some more superheroes might know as well, and to his classmates at school his disguise is little better than Paper Thin. (He uses a hologram to make it look like he's in two places at once, but that can't have been enough to hide the fact that there's some kind of connection between Jaime and the Blue Beetle.) But the Anti-Villain has a personal connection to him, so that neatly neutralizes the threat from the Big Bad.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Reach. They're of the Conquistador type. They have "business plans" for Earth, so they plan to take it over. They're surprisingly smart about it though, and are quite the Magnificent Bastard race, as their Xanatos Gambits run for years.
- Screwed By The Publisher: As mentioned, the title was canceled due to low sales. Then Batman the Brave And The Bold was released with Jaime in the FIRST episode. This would have generated interest in the series, BUT IT WAS ALREADY CANCELED BY THEN. Nice timing DC...
- Averted in the original run of the comic, however; the DC higher-ups liked the book and gave it much more of a chance than a book with its sales would normally have gotten.
- Seen It All: Peacemaker. Survivor of a thousand Noodle Incidents throughout The DCU
Peacemaker: Hey, any alien encounter where you don't end up dead or probed is a good one. Especially probed.
Jaime: Your stories are getting weirder. You know that, right?
- Shout-Out: to Life On Mars in an early issue.
- Jaime's origin and powers is very similar to Guyver's. Both Sho Fukamachi and Jaime Reye's were very normal teenagers before discovering an ancient alien artifact/suit of armor even older then most other aliens in the setting, which merged irrevocably to their bodies, but disappeared when not in use with a huge array of special weapons. Both the Guyver and the Beetle came with a wide variety of problems attached to them from their origins, and drawbacks which Jaime and Sho had to find out pretty much on the fly.
- Sociopathic Hero: The Scarab, which (before Jaime's influence begins to change it) always immediately picks the most lethal option available and doesn't seem to fond of being used for good.
- Spell My Name with an "S": A number of fans had trouble misreading the new BB's name as "Jamie" rather than "Jaime."
- Tear Jerker: In-universe example. When Jaime tells his friends and family the story about how how he was left alone in space when the Scarab cloaked him and all the heroes left him behind, everyone but Peacemaker is brought to tears. It doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when Milagro finally gives her returned big brother a hug, though.
- ' Not just in-universe, mind you. *sniff*
- Three Amigos: Jaime, Paco, and Brenda. No pun intended, by the way.
- Touched by Vorlons: Yeah, the Reach created the Scarab. They didn't mean for it to be nonlethal, though.
- Unfamiliar Ceiling: Peacemaker waking up after ripping a scarab out of his back with a broken bit of armor. He also stands up, then falls down, and is funny.
- The Unintelligible:Averted with the Scarab.
- Villains Never Lie: Averted with the Black Beetle. He gives so many varying origins for himself that Jaime eventually just gives up on believing any of them, even after Black Beetle seems to settle on "evil Jaime from the future."
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
- What Would X Do?: Jaime often thinks about what Ted would do (to the point where he has 'WWTKD?' - "What Would Ted Kord Do?" - stuck to his bedroom wall).
- This carries over to Batman the Brave And The Bold, with Ted replaced by Batman. Who is later replaced, at least partially, by Ted.
- World of No Grandparents: Averted, with the big family reunion in Blue Beetle #26.
- Yaoi Fangirl: Looks like Milagro is a Ted/Michael shipper in the making.
- Ax Crazy: The Scarab. It barely responds to Jaime--that it does at all is considered a miracle. La Dama also goes from Anti-Villain to full on Villain in the reboot (and promptly gets herself blown up trying to take the Scarab out of Jaime).
- Darker and Edgier: The side-effect of being part of the 2011 DC reboot, coupled with a healthy dose of Unfortunate Implications.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Scarab is occasionally one of these.
- Dwindling Party: Though not killed, the New 52 Blue Beetle has, as of issue 6, been severed from the supporting cast mates that made the critics rave about the previous series.
- Kid with the Leash: Barely.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Or rather, it's the alien killing machine lodged in my spine.
- Parental Abandonment: Inverted. Jaime flees because of the hell the Scarab has now made his life.