Who is Blue Beetle? The comic history of the new DC Studios hero

Blue Beetle in comics
(Image credit: DC)

Blue Beetle will be one of the first new characters to make their movie debut with James Gunn in place as co-CEO of DC Studios. But even though Blue Beetle will be a newcomer to DC Studios, the legacy of the hero stretches back generations all the way to the Golden Age of comics

In the decades since the introduction of the original Blue Beetle, the character has had a long and winding road coming to his place as a modern DC leading man - in fact, he didn't even start as a DC hero, and he was almost never part of the DC Universe at all.

So how did Blue Beetle go from a pulp '30s and '40s radio adventure icon to the current sci-fi fueled incarnation, future movie star Jaime Reyes? We'll break it all down right now.

Here's everything you need to know about the history of Blue Beetle.

Who is Blue Beetle?

Blue Beetle in comics

(Image credit: DC)

There are actually three people who have used the name Blue Beetle since the character was initially created in 1939 by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski for long defunct publisher Fox Publications. The original version of the Blue Beetle was Dan Garrett, a pulp adventure hero who gained his powers from a 'Sacred Scarab' (there are other versions of his origin, but this is the one that's relevant here). 

With the power of the Scarab, Garrett had increased speed, strength, and toughness, as well as the ability to fly and shoot energy blasts. Blue Beetle made his debut at the 1939 World's Fair Expo in New York City, on a day which Fox Publications paid to have named "Blue Beetle Day."

The character's popularity was immediate, leading to Blue Beetle comics, Blue Beetle film serials, and a long running Blue Beetle radio show. But by the '50s, his popularity waned along with most other superheroes.

Eventually, Blue Beetle was bought by Charlton Comics in the late '60s - by then superheroes had entered the boom of the Silver Age of comics - and rebooted with a brand new incarnation created by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. This version, Ted Kord, was a student of Dan Garrett's who was also a mechanical genius. When Garrett died, he passed the Scarab onto Kord for safekeeping - though Kord never actually used it himself.

Instead, he became a different version of the Blue Beetle who used gadgets to fight crime, including a special Bug-Ship.

(Image credit: DC)
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By the early '80s, DC owned the characters of the now-defunct Charlton Comics, bringing the Ted Kord version of the Blue Beetle into the DC Universe alongside other Charlton heroes such as Peacemaker and Captain Atom in 1985 following the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series which rebooted the DC Universe.

Interestingly enough, Blue Beetle and the other Charlton characters almost didn't make it into the DC Universe at all, as they were almost used as the cast of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen limited series. Instead, DC decided to use the Charlton characters in the core universe, and Moore and Gibbons created their own characters who resembled the Charlton heroes - including Nite-Owl, who is based on the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle.

But with the Charlton heroes firmly in the DC Universe, Ted Kord became a longtime member of the Justice League, forming a super-friendship with his teammate Booster Gold (who is also getting his own DC Studios streaming series).

Years later, when Ted Kord was killed in action by the villain Maxwell Lord (known for his live-action appearance in Wonder Woman 1984, played by Pedro Pascal), the Scarab was left on the Rock of Eternity, home of the Wizard who guards the power of SHAZAM!. When the Rock of Eternity was later destroyed in the story Day of Vengeance, the Scarab found its way to El Paso, Texas.

And that's where it finally landed in the hands of Jaime Reyes, who has gone on to master the power of the Scarab in ways that Dan Garrett and Ted Kord never even dreamed.

Blue Beetle in the DC Universe

Blue Beetle in comics

(Image credit: DC)

Since his introduction in 2003's Infinite Crisis #6, Jaime Reyes (created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner) has been the Blue Beetle of the DC Universe.

Unlike his direct predecessor Ted Kord, Jaime was able to unlock the secrets of the Scarab like never before. Instead of simply granting him powers as it had Dan Garrett, it became a full-on living suit of biomechanical armor that fused with Jaime's spine.

Yes, it was as weird as it sounds, but in a cool way - at least for readers. For Jaime, the experience is more than a little terrifying. But as he starts to develop his abilities, which include flight, energy manipulation, and changing the Scarab's form into weaponry, Jaime bonds with the Scarab and starts to grow into a hero in his own right.

Along the way, he actually meets and forms a friendship with Ted Kord's old pal Booster Gold, who becomes a mentor of sorts for Jaime, even inviting him to join a version of the Justice League.

Booster and Jaime eventually team up to go back in time and save Ted Kord's life, and Ted also becomes a mentor to Jaime at his company Kord Industries.

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Things are actually a little bit fuzzy around the details here thanks to DC's 2011 Flashpoint reboot and its subsequent DC Rebirth reboot, which moved around some of the events of Jaime's origins and Ted Kord's return, but this is the basic combined timeline.

In the current incarnation of the story, which kicked off with the aforementioned DC Rebirth reboot, Ted is working to study the Scarab, which is still bonded to Jaime.

As for what the Scarab itself actually is, it has two separate origins as well. In the original version of Jaime's story, it's a weapon created by an alien species known as the Reach which isn't meant for human use - but which is bonded to Jaime nonetheless.

In his most recent continuity, Jaime is told by Doctor Fate (played by Pierce Brosnan in the Black Adam movie) that the Scarab is actually magical. Since that revelation, the line has been blurred again, and now it seems that the Scarab is both magical, and an alien artifact related to the Reach.

Blue Beetle in the movies

Blue Beetle in comics

(Image credit: DC)

Though Blue Beetle isn't technically a stranger to the big screen thanks to his popular movie serials of the '40s, the upcoming Blue Beetle film will be the first time the character has made it to the movies in the modern era, and the first time Jaime Reyes will have made it to film at all.

That said, DC Studios also seems to be building in some of Jaime's Blue Beetle legacy and the surrounding characters. For one thing, there's already a Booster Gold series in the works as well - and when it comes to Booster Gold, nothing goes better than a little Blue Beetle on the side.

(Image credit: DC)
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Of course, the Blue Beetle that has traditionally been Booster's friend is Ted Kord, but both Booster and Ted have also been mentors to Jaime, so there's every chance Ted could show up somehow to connect the two properties. And interestingly, Susan Sarandon is playing a character named Victoria Kord in the film, who could provide an in for Ted Kord himself later on.

There's also Jaime's relationship with Doctor Fate, who was introduced in 2022's Black Adam. It's unclear how or if any elements of that film could play a role in the new DC Studios continuity, but Doctor Fate's helmet is at least on the table if they want to go there.

And that highlights the biggest thing we know about the Blue Beetle movie, which is how much we don't actually know yet.

There's a whole new world of DC Studios films and series in development alongside Blue Beetle - and we still haven't even seen a trailer yet. So we'll likely learn a lot more between now and Blue Beetle's August 13 release date.

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are two of the best superhero friends ever.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)