Hail and Farewell: Sturges on Blue Beetle's End

Talking Blue Beetle with Matt Sturges

As announced by DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio in Wednesday's 20 Answers/1 Question interview here on Newsarama, the Blue Beetle ongoing series is coming to an end.

Launched as one of the new series spinning out of the "One Year Later" jump that all DC comics took in 2006, Blue Beetle was originally conceived by Keith Giffen with co-writer John Rogers and artist Cully Hamner. The title character, Jaime Reyes, became Blue Beetle during DC's Infinite Crisis event after former Blue Beetle Ted Kord was killed. When Giffen left the series after Issue #10, Rogers continued on the comic as solo writer until the demands of his new TNT television series Leverage took him away from comics.

While the other new ongoings that launched during One Year Later, Shadowpact and Checkmate, were canceled earlier this year, Blue Beetle was the last survivor as writer Matt Sturges took over with Issue #29 in July, joining series artist Rafael Albuquerque to form a new regular creative team.

According to DiDio, he's "disappointed" that Blue Beetle is being canceled. "That's a book that we started with very high expectations, but it lost its audience along the way," he said. "Recently, we felt that it was it was standing on firmer ground and was getting a more positive response. The problem is that the firmer ground and positive response is not enough to keep the book afloat. So unfortunately, we had to cancel that series."

Newsarama talked to Sturges about the cancellation, and during the conversation, the writer announced that one of the title's characters will die along with the series in Blue Beetle #36.

Newsarama: Now that the announcement has been made that Blue Beetle is ending, is it safe to assume you've known this for awhile?

Matt Sturges: Yeah. Usually what happens is they let the writer know a couple of months in advance so you can get all of your affairs in order and have time to wrap things up. This is the second time it's happened to me, and it's always a little frustrating because people are asking, "What are your plans for the next year?" And you have to say, "Oh, well, you know... la la leh la."

NRAMA: So it's at least a good thing that people have been told now?

MS: Yeah, it's kind of a relief now that I don't have to be circumspect about the ongoing prospects of the book.

NRAMA: But this has got to be a disappointment for you, isn't it?

MS: It is. You know, it was a thing where, just when I thought I was getting into my groove, I found out it was time to start wrapping it up. So I felt like I never really had a chance to mature into the book and make it my own.

NRAMA: Do you know what's going to happen with Jaime?

MS: He's in Teen Titans and will be in that book for the foreseeable future. He's a character that DC cares about. Obviously, he's important to Warner and DC, since he's one of the characters in the new Batman: Brave and the Bold animated series. So people can still get their Jaime fix there as well as in Teen Titans. Jaime's definitely not going anywhere. It's just that this title apparently didn't work out for the long term.

NRAMA: Before this interview, I looked up recent online reviews and comments about the Blue Beetle comic, and they were enthusiastically positive lately. Why do you think there's such a disconnect between reviews and sales?

MS: Well, there are two kinds of comic book readers. There are the kind that spend a lot of time on the internet and write reviews, and I think those people like a different kind of book than your average comic book buyer. Comic book buyers want big characters and big events, and we didn't have those things in Blue Beetle. It was a special book; it was a different book that focused on character interaction and humor. And maybe that's just not what the larger market is after.

NRAMA: During this run, you addressed some issues that were specific to a border city like El Paso, where the comic is set, and to the Hispanic characters in Blue Beetle. Was doing a character-focused superhero story that could touch upon immigration part of what made Blue Beetle special?

MS: You know, when we first started talking about doing that story, immigration was a much bigger deal in the country. But as the election year proceeded, it seemed like the electorate cared less and less about immigration and more and more about other things. So I think in that sense, it was a bit of a misfire in that it was supposed to be this very topical, relevant story which turned out to be less relevant than we believed. But it's still an important issue that's worth talking about. And one of the things that I worked really hard to do with that story is to present both sides of the issue without being preachy about whatever my views might be, while at the same time not having that be the subject of the story.

NRAMA: Do you know yet what the last story is going to be?

MS: I do. It's a two-parter, and I've written the first half of it and just turned it in. I do know that someone is going to die in the last issue. And I won't say who.

NRAMA: Please don't let it be Traci 13.

MS: That would be horrible, wouldn't it?

NRAMA: That would be really bad.

MS: I can't imagine someone would do something that horrible.

NRAMA: Don't do that. Don't tease. What is the last issue number?

MS: Issues #35 and #36 will be the final two-parter.

NRAMA: For people who've enjoyed your work on this series, are they going to get more Matt Sturges in the future? You're a DC exclusive writer now, so do you have something coming up that will replace this on your plate?

MS: Well, the next thing I've got in the DCU is a book called Run!, which is a six-issue mini-series. That's a different kind of book from Blue Beetle. It will have some of the same snarky humor, but it's a much more fast-paced, much more violent, much more aggressive kind of story. So yeah, if you're looking for a Blue Beetle fix, you're not going to get it there, although it's going to be an awesome book.

However, later next year, I've got some things cooking. I think I'm allowed to say it's an ongoing series, but I can't say which one. It's a place where I can do similar things to what I was doing in Blue Beetle, but on a larger scale.

NRAMA: Is this a new ongoing, or are you taking over one?

MS: [singing] Mmm... mmm... mmm... mmmmmmmm...

NRAMA: [laughs] Alright. We'll just leave it at that. And of course, we can always find your work in House of Mystery and Jack of Fables.

MS: That's true. And those are not going away anytime soon. That we can be sure of.

NRAMA: Is there anything else you want to say about Jaime and all the characters you got to know in Blue Beetle?

MS: Hmm. Well, if I have my way, this will not be my last work with Blue Beetle.

NRAMA: Then I guess that confirms he's not the one who's going to die in the last issue.

MS: Damnit! [laughs]

NRAMA: Is there anything else you want to tell the fans who've stuck with you on Blue Beetle?

MS: Yes. Never before in my writing career have I encountered a group of such loving, supportive fans. When I took over after John Rogers' extremely critically acclaimed run, I was ready to be pilloried by the fan base. But they were so supportive and welcoming and ready to give me a shot. And I just want to let them know that I really appreciate it.

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