The Blue Beetle Companion
by Christopher Irving, various writers & artists (TwoMorrows, 2007)

What do Robert Kanigher, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Al Feldstein, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane have in common? They are some of the first-rate talents who have worked on what many consider a second-rate property, the Blue Beetle. And they are also part of the story of the Beetle's convoluted-but-interesting history, as told by Christopher Irving in The Blue Beetle Companion from TwoMorrows Publishing.

One of the things this book proves is that history, even that of a character who is a standout favorite of very few fans, can be interesting. Whether this is accomplished by Irving's ability as a wordsmith or his passion for the character (both, I suspect) isn't important. What matters is that he has put together an engrossing and, I would contend, extremely useful resource on a character whose roots extend all the way back to 1939.

Readers will be duly entertained as they are literarily regaled with tales of the fascinating real-life characters who, in one way or another, had a hand in the character's four-color life. I mean, who knew that the Blue Beetle helped give a quite well-known and loved radio and TV actor his start?

Then, of course, there are the numerous reproductions of Golden and Silver Age covers and panels, as well as behind-the-scenes photos that one would expect to find in such a work. But that's not all, as the book also contains reprints of early '40s Blue Beetle strips, as well as part of an early radio script and an episode guide from the same era. You might as well refer to these as "Easter Eggs," because they are a wonderful plus for comics history enthusiasts.

The Blue Beetle Companion is recommended for fans of the character, as well as those who simply enjoy the history of the comics medium. Those who like to resell only mint copies from their collection should wrinkle it up a bit -- this one's worth keeping.

review by
Mark Allen

27 October 2007

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