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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Black Beetle Is the Blue Beetle

If we're going to find out who Black Beetle is, we have to start with a few basic assumptions, the first and foremost of which is that such a deduction is possible. If Black Beetle is someone we've never met before, any further detective work is folly. Fortunately for us, this primary assumption is reinforced by genre convention as well as on panel in Booster Gold #17 (in Scar's vision of the future) and Booster Gold #25 (when Skeets scans Black Beetle). Therefore, it's fairly safe to say that we'll know who Black Beetle is when we finally meet him (especially since that's what Dan Jurgens has said, according to "Gold Exchange" columnist Russ Burlingame in 2009).

Assuming that Black Beetle is likely to be someone we already know, we can begin our list of suspects with characters who have already crossed the path of Booster Gold. That includes characters we are really familiar with, like:

The Black Beetle probably isn't Ted Kord

Let's start here, if for no other reason than to scratch it off the list. There is almost no reason to believe this is possible.

Yes, in Booster Gold #10, Black Beetle insists that Ted Kord must not die, but that's probably not self-preservation so much as it is hatred of Jaime Reyes. Yes, in Booster Gold #25, Black Beetle teases Jaime about a future meeting with Ted Kord, but that's a tease about the upcoming "Blackest Night" event crossover, not his own future. And yes, someone broke into Kord Industries in Booster Gold #1,000,000, but that was probably Booster Gold from the future, not an evil Ted Kord.

Besides, Ted is dead. Introducing Ted Kord as Jaime Reyes' greatest enemy in the middle of an adventure in which Booster Gold breaks time in order to save Ted Kord... well, that's a hard sell, even in a comic book about time paradoxes.

No, if any Blue Beetle is the Black Beetle:

The Black Beetle could be Jaime Reyes

In Booster Gold #10, Black Beetle calls himself Jaime Reyes' greatest enemy. He claims to have the same alien Reach scarab as the other Blue Beetles (Booster Gold #6), and he's certainly done his homework about the Blue Beetles and their fate (Booster Gold #4 and #5). He even wears a costume that looks strikingly similar to Jaime's. That's all circumstantial evidence at best, but there's more.

The strongest evidence that Black Beetle is Jaime Reyes comes from the Black Beetle himself when he taunts Jaime in Booster Gold #25. To hear Black Beetle tell it, he has traveled back in time to attack Reyes' family in order to ensure that Jaime Reyes is set on the path that will ultimately "turn a future hero into a monster." That would make the Black Beetle the future incarnation of Jaime Reyes himself!

In addition to being another time paradox, it's not the most convincing story. (If the Black Beetle has Jaime's sentient scarab, why doesn't he talk to it or use it in the same ways that Jaime does?) However, it does explain why Black Beetle suddenly materialized from thin air to pointlessly taunt Jaime in the previous issue, and it does tie-in well with the unexpected emergence of bloodlust in Jaime's scarab.

So is the Black Beetle a liar? Probably. But maybe he's lying to disguise a more plausible origin story that he all but confirmed in the previous issue. We'll cover that possibility tomorrow.

[Follow this link to read Part 2 of this series.]

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