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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Black Beetle Is Not the Blue Beetle

This is the second part of our investigation of Black Beetle's secret identity. Follow this link to Part 1.


Fact: Black Beetle claims to have an alien Reach scarab just like Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes. (Booster Gold #6)

Fact: Supernova calls Black Beetle "Joshua." (Booster Gold #7)

Fact: Black Beetle calls himself "Jaime Reyes' greatest enemy." (Booster Gold #10)

Fact: Black Beetle explains to Ted Kord that if Jaime Reyes never became the third Blue Beetle, "he'll never take her away from me!" (Also Booster Gold #10)

Where do these facts all lead?

The Black Beetle says he is Hector

Hector and his sister Nadia joined Blue Beetle's supporting cast in January 2007, a full year before the Black Beetle made his debut. He assisted Jaime Reyes for years before Nadia was abruptly killed. Hector blamed Jaime and disappeared, apparently borrowing the identity (and maybe the scarab) of Djo-Zha, a Reach agent who also felt betrayed by Reyes. The name Djo-Zha was misunderstood as "Joshua." (All in Blue Beetle #36.)

See how the facts fit together to indicate that Hector became the Black Beetle? If you still doubt, keep in mind that Black Beetle all but admits it! In the "Blue Beetle" backup feature in Booster Gold #24, Black Beetle taunts Blue Beetle with Nadia's death before confessing that his anger at Jaime's indifference to his sister's death drove him to madness and villainy.

That's it. Case closed. Black Beetle is Hector. Until you turn the page and Black Beetle denies it all, claiming instead to have killed Hector and taken the Djo-Zha scarab. So what's the truth here?

This takes a little digging behind the scenes: according to a "Gold Exchange" interview that Russ Burlingame conducted with Booster Gold writer Dan Jurgens and Blue Beetle writer Matt Sturges in 2009, Sturges wrote Hector's story in Blue Beetle #36 (April 2009) without the approval or coordination of Dan Jurgens. Blue Beetle #36 doesn't declare that Black Beetle is Hector, so the hints were simply revealed in Booster Gold #24 (November 2009) to be baseless lies and misdirection.

If the Black Beetle can't be trusted to tell us the truth about anything, we're going to have to start look at his actions and not his words to decipher his identity. So what have we seen him do? He manipulates time itself! That leads us to our next suspect:

The Black Beetle could be Rex Hunter

A former Time Master gone bad, Rex Hunter (aka Jason Goldstein) is everything Rip Hunter isn't. He's a loud-mouth braggart (Booster Gold #5) who isn't afraid to murder or manipulate history (Booster Gold #4) so long as it makes him "time's ultimate master" (Booster Gold #18). Surviving his own murder as a being of pure chronal energy that can move through the timestream, he knows the past and future and the secrets of Vanishing Point. The similarities to Black Beetle are pretty striking, and they don't stop there.

Remember that Black Beetle told Ted Kord that he must live so that Jaime Reyes never becomes the Blue Beetle? In Booster Gold #18, Rex wants to destroy the scarab so that the lineage of the Blue Beetles will never come to pass. It's the same plan. If Rex is the Black Beetle, and the Black Beetle hates Jaime Reyes so much that he'd destroy history to ruin him, what difference does it make how he prevents Jaime from obtaining the scarab so long as Jaime never obtains the scarab?

But why would the Time Stealers recruit two different versions of Black Beetle into their ranks? And if the Time Stealers killed Rex Hunter as a baby to turn him into a creature of pure chronal energy that later became Black Beetle, why would Rex keep working with the Time Stealers who killed him? These unanswerable questions seem to preclude the possibility that Rex and Black Beetle are the same person.

Ok, so Rex Hunter is out. Who else fits the bill as a time-traveling history-buff obsessed with the Blue Beetle? Uh-oh.

More tomorrow.

[Follow this link to read Part 3 of this series.]

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