Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Pull List (4-30-08): Wait, what do you mean Blue Beetle speaks Spanish?

The return of old favorites, unexpected shake-ups and at least one shocking resurrection — it's like a Mexican novela around here! Speaking of fun things with an accent y con sabor muy Latino — vamos a la lista!

Blue Beetle #26: You might have guessed from the espanich, but I'm pretty excited about this month's issue of Blue Beetle. I'm sure some people are grousing about it, but DC deserves some credit for publishing a comic in a language that's now spoken by a fairly large amount of people in this country (not to mention others). And it's pretty canny — Latinos make up the fastest-growing minority group in the United States, and it makes sense to start feeling them out as a potential market.

But really I'm mostly stoked that someone at DC realized that for a lot of people, particularly those living in border towns like El Paso, English is not necessarily the default language. The social situation that Jaime and his non-Spanish speaking girlfriend (the awesome Traci Thirteen) find themselves in when they go to a family gathering where no one is speaking English isn't far-fetched at all (even if most people along the border tend to be bilingual). This is particularly true when the border cities are so deeply integrated that having business, friends and family on both sides of the border is so common it's taken for granted.

This story is a great way to touch on aspects of Jaime's character, as well as the cultural background that is an integral part of him and the city he calls home. As I've mentioned before, I grew up and lived most of my life in El Paso myself, so it's nice to see some attention paid, not necessarily to the spot of geography itself, but to what that geography means in terms of culture, history and the people who are a part of both.

Of course, Marvel already did a Spanish-language issue with Fantastic Four: Isla de la Muerte, but I'd argue that Blue Beetle has a chance to resonate more because while Isla translated characters that normally speak English into Spanish, speaking Spanish would be a natural part of who Jaime Reyes is — it would be more remarkable if Jaime didn't speak Spanish once in a while. And in a smart move, DC is including the script in English for those who don't know Spanish (or those who are, er, not as fluent as they should be ... ahem ...), which is something Isla could have benefited from. Especially since Puerto Rican Spanish is a little different from Mexican Spanish ... which is a little different from Cuban Spanish ... which is ...

Is it a gimmick? Sure. But it's a gimmick that will help add another layer to the character of the Blue Beetle, who also happens to be a young Latino named Jaime Reyes. In that case, I'm all for it. Check out the preview and see what you think.

(By the way, I still see it debated here and there, but Jaime's name really is pronounced that way.)

The rest ...

DC Universe Zero (one-shot): You know you want to see what Grant Morrison is coming up with, too. Stop looking at me like that.

Immortal Iron Fist #14: The conclusion to the best mystic kung-fu/super-science/crazy-ass espionage movie that happens to be a comic book.

Local #11 (of 12): Finally! Did you know this series was supposed to wrap up in January? 2007? According to writer Brian Wood, in spite of the sketchy schedule "it's undoubtedly a better book for all the delays." And y'know, I can't argue with him — Local is a wonderful bit of superior storytelling with beautiful artwork by Ryan Kelly. I'll be sorry to see it go when it concludes with #12 in May. Supposedly.

Trading up ...
(Titles I either am, or will be, picking up in trade)

Abyss #4

Green Lantern #30 (a six-issue retelling of the GL origin? Seriously?)

Jack of Fables #22

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #8 (of 8)

Maybe ...

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula #1

Thor: Ages of Thunder #1

Recommended ...

Amor Y Cohetes: A Love and Rockets Book: I tend to evangelize for Love and Rockets and almost anything Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez produce, but I'll also be the first to admit that they can be tough to just jump into. If you ever really wanted to start from the beginning — and I mean before Maggie or Palomar were more than nebulous ideas just taking shape — you'll want to get Amor Y Cohetes, which collects the first 50 issues of Love and Rockets ever. It should be considered essential, and at $16.99 there's no reason this shouldn't be added to your library.


chris said...

Wait... the Green Lantern origin and snooze-fest is going on for six issues?

If true, I'm dropping that book immediately. Today's issue was awful, forced, and downright lame in several places.

Maxo said...

I know, right? There's four more issues to go, and the way I figure it that's enough for its own trade. I'm dropping it for now, then I'll start picking it up again when the rehash is done.

I don't mind the origin story retread so much, but stretching it out over six friggin' issues is just self-indulgent.

Phillip said...

Who the heck is debating how Jaime Reyes' name is pronounced? It's spelled the same as Jaime Hernandez's name, people! (He even gives a pronunciation guide: "Xaime".)

Sorry. Blue Beetle is one of the best books DC is putting out lately, IMHO.

Maxo said...

It surprises me, too. Generally speaking, I think it's two things; people who haven't had much (or any) exposure to Spanish pronunciation, and people who don't bother to pay attention when they are exposed to the language. One is understandable, the other is just kinda lazy. (This is true for anybody dealing with something that's not in their native language, whatever the language might be, by the way.)

Blue Beetle is one my favorites, too! It's just a fun book that gets better as it goes on; I'm really sorry to see John Rogers take a hiatus from scripting.