After being rescued by his grandmother in the previous issue, Jaime Reyes takes some time in "Blue Beetle" #12 to familiarize the scarab giving him his Beetle powers with some Earth customs and beliefs. The most interesting segment of the conversation occurs as Khaji-Da (the scarab) asks Jaime about a portrait of Jesus Christ. It provides a chuckle not unlike the type generated by episodes of "Mork & Mindy," "Perfect Strangers" or any other sitcom that relied on the pairing of total opposites and awkward partners separated by a culture gap.
Ig Guara, with tight inks by J. P. Mayer, draws a wide range of action, adventure and emotion throughout this chapter as Jaime faces a breath-stealing hug from his grandma as well as the rage-driven violent attack from the Blood Beetle, a modified version of Blue Beetle that possesses Paco. Guara's ability to perfectly capture the expressions of Jaime and his friends is phenomenal. Brenda pleads with the Blood Beetle in an attempt to reach through to Paco and the hesitation on Blood Beetle's face as he attempts to comprehend the foreign concept of "like like" is as tangible an emotion as Jaime's amused self-assurance to finally have the upper hand in a conversation with his scarab.
Tony Bedard does a great job of balancing quiet character moments that cover the entire cast in part and in whole with wild big screen action and excitement that has me turning pages with near abandon. Although the solution to Paco's Blood Beetle possession is a little too "magic potion" for my preferences, I suppose it isn't completely out of the realm of possibility given everything the scarab has shown it is possible of doing to this point. Less fantasy-based is the way that Bedard handles the teens in this issue. He doesn't try to timestamp them with vogue slang and he doesn't force them to be overly mature or rigid, they're believable kids that I could completely see hanging out with my fifteen-year-old daughter.
The one thing I'm still trying to adjust to while reading this book is the abundance of Spanish words dropped into conversation. All the Spanish I know I learned from Steve Martin and Dora the Explorer, so if the word isn't heavily couched in context and I'm not near a computer, it gets lost on me at first read. This issue is a little heavier on those references than some of the more recent issues, but not so much as to derail the tone of the adventure.
"Blue Beetle" #12 seems like a turning point in this series as Khaji-Da begins to attempt to assimilate some notions that Jaime has introduced to it, especially those from this issue proper. The heart of the first Jaime Reyes-starring "Blue Beetle" series was his confusion and attempts to curb the scarab's murderous tendencies towards foes. Given that the scarab here is perceived as flawed in its mission to begin transforming Earth for a Reach invasion, Bedard has taken some interesting paths towards building a new mythology for Jaime Reyes, Khaji-Da and the Reach. The #0 issue promises to reveal some of the secrets of Khaji-Da's origin, but this issue is a nice sample of what this series has been all about.