Warning: Spoilers ahead for Blue Beetle #8.
This week's Blue Beetle #8 accomplished quite a bit in one issue. The story has re-incorporated elements of Ted Kord's history as a Justice League superhero to current continuity (also brought up in this week's The Flash #21), brought O.M.A.C. Kevin Kho into the "Rebirth" era, and put Ted's old Blue Beetle costume onto the new Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes.
The series was already re-establishing Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate in previous issues, an event that was first introduced in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 last year.
This week's issue, drawn by Scott Kolins, is co-written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, two creators who are well known for their work on Ted Kord and friends during their Justice League run. It's also worth noting that Giffen co-created Kevin Kho (who comes back in this issue) during the "New 52."
Combined with the appearance of one of Ted Kord's former "Bugs" in the Justice League Watchtower in this week's issue The Flash #21), it looks like DC is bringing back the Justice League International history, although with a few tweaks.
So what part of Ted Kord's history is re-established? How did O.M.A.C. show up? And why does Jaime put on Ted's classic Blue Beetle armor?
The story in Blue Beetle #8 begins by reviewing that the scarab was torn out of Jaime in the last issue by the villainous Arion, who was previously trapped by Doctor Fate in a prison beneath El Paso (and has been creating havoc for Jaime and friends).
Now Jaime is recovering from the scarab being ripped out of him - only, surprise, he doesn't have to recover. Despite being told for most of this Blue Beetle run that the scarab was previously harming him, Jaime now finds out that it actually made him super-healthy. So…there's that.
Jaime is being checked out by supporting cast members Teri, his mom Blanca, and his mentor Ted Kord, leaving the Arion fighting to Doctor Fate/Kent Nelson.
Meanwhile, things aren't going so well for Doctor Fate, as Arion claims that he's going to remake the world. Arion says he's going to unleash hell upon humankind, a course of action that's being supported by his servant Mordecai.
Return of O.M.A.C.
Back with Jaime, the scarab-less youth is being driven home by his mother. And although Jaime clearly misses the powers given to him by the scarab, his mother reminds him that the scarab was killing him. She says good riddance.
Out the car window, Jaime sees Kevin Kho, looking like he's hurt. (FYI, Kevin is a friend Jaime had previously mentioned in this series.) Jaime makes his mother get out of the car with him to help his friend. Kevin hints that he's not what they think he is, and he warns that "they're" coming.
Sure enough, the trio encounters some of Arion's giant bug monsters (who are actually the city's humans transformed by Arion). Jaime and his mom try to fight them, but Blanca ends up transforming into one of them herself.
When Kevin is threatened with harm, Brother Eye "Omactivates" the youth and voila…
The return of O.M.A.C. (Nice job, Giffen.)
O.M.A.C. fights the monsters, but when he tries to attack the transformed Blanca, Jaime steps in, telling him to back off. And apparently the speech works, as O.M.A.C. leaves. (So the friendship between Kevin and Jaime, established in the "New 52," is back as well.)
Jaime decides that, even though he no longer has the power of the scarab, he wants to help Doctor Fate fight Arion.
Jaime runs to Ted and asks to use his old Blue Beetle armor. He says that he senses the scarab "wants" him, so he thinks he can take the scarab away from Arion, depowering him and helping Doctor Fate.
And although the scarab might reintegrate itself into Jaime (and possibly even enslave or harm him again), Jaime says it's worth the risk, "because that's what heroes do."
Ted finally agrees to this plan of action, although he and Jaime tell Teri to keep trying to contact the Justice League (who have been busy "off-world," we're told).
Ted reviews his own use of the Blue Beetle armor. The Blue Beetle series had already established that Ted was the Blue Beetle at some point in the past, but in this issue he specifically states that he wore it and was a superhero until he had a heart attack.
DC fans may remember that a heart attack was part of the Giffen/DeMatteis continuity for Ted (from before the "New 52" reboot). Heart problems were used as an explanation for why Blue Beetle was no longer active.
But later in that continuity, Ted donned the costume again, only to be killed by Max Lord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis.
Now we learn that in this new, post-"Rebirth" continuity, the story about Ted backing away from being a superhero after the heart attack is back in continuity. However this time, Ted was apparently never killed.
So…getting back to the story of Blue Beetle #8, Jaime puts on Ted's old Blue Beetle armor.
Yes, Jaime is wearing that Blue Beetle costume, complete with golden goggles.
With the appearance of one of Ted's Blue Beetle Bugs in the Justice League Watchtower in this week's The Flash #21 and now this integration of Ted Kord's JLI history, the "Rebirth" timeline is beginning to reform with a much longer backstory than the "New 52."
Blue Beetle #9 is due out May 24.