Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Behold...the Blue Beetle!

One of the most popular concepts in crime fiction of the 30s-40s was a policeman who felt too constrained by the letter of the law and decided to take up a masked identity to "serve justice rather than the law"!
Every rank from beat officers (The Guardian) to police commissioners (The Whisperer) donned a mask (and usually a skintight outfit) to fight criminals in their off-duty hours.
One of the longest-lasting was Officer Dan Garret aka The Blue Beetle.

Garret had good reason to be disillusioned about the power of law and order.
His late father was a police officer killed by a criminal who evaded prosecution even after Dan himself joined the force.
Seeing the fiend go free due to an unbreakable (though false) alibi, Officer Garret took matters into his own hands.
Donning a mask, fedora and business suit (ala The Green Hornet), Dan adopted the Blue Beetle identity to harass the felon and force him to to commit a crime in front of witnesses, including Garret's reporter girlfriend and her photographer!
It worked, and undeniable retribution was finally delivered to the killer!
In the next issue, after saving scientist Dr Franz, from racketeers, the grateful chemist gave Garret a suit of bulletproof chainmail, as well as a supply of an experimental vitamin, 2-X, to enhance his strength and reflexes!
Combined with a pair of lethal .45 automatics, that chainmail and "power pills" made the "upgraded" Blue Beetle a formidable foe indeed!

The Beetle's adventures began in Fox Comics' Mystery Men Comics #1 (though he didn't make the cover until #7) and ran thru all 31 issues.
He gained his own title The Blue Beetle, which published 60 issues between 1939 and 1950 and also appeared in every issue of Big 3 Comics, an anthology title featuring the most popular characters from Fox's various titles!
Blue Beetle was popular enough to be the only Fox Comics character to warrant both a newspaper strip and a dramatic radio series, both of which were, regrettably, short-lived. (The newspaper comic strip featured art by a young Jack Kirby!)
In the mid 1950s, another publisher did a reprint series which proved so successful that they published a reworked new version of the Beetle that ran into the 1960s, was revived again in the 1980s and runs on-and-off to this day. (In each of these revivals, the Beetle has a new secret identity and powers.)
But Dan Garret, the original Beetle, hadn't been seen since the mid '50s, until Alex Ross revived him in the acclaimed Project SuperPowers in 2007!
Atomic Kommie Comics™ has also revived The Blue Beetle as part of our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line with several of his best covers from his own title and Mystery Men Comics on t-shirts, mugs, and other goodies.
Heck, we're so proud of him that we gave him his own 12-Month Calendar with a rarely-seen Golden Age comic cover for each month!

FREE comic convention season bonus: mp3s of The Blue Beetle radio show!

And BUY Project SuperPowers, the BEST Golden-Age revival comic (er...graphic novel) out there!

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