It's the origin of the Blue Beetle. Again. Jaime Reyes debuted in 2006 and came into possession of an alien scarab - and vice versa - when he stumbled across it in a back lot. In 2011, after the Flashpoint event, Jaime found the power-giving parasite in a backpack. Now, in the DC Rebirth era, we learn that Jaime saw it floating in a river.
Pals Paco and Brenda are once again with Jaime at the point of origin, but this time it's not just Jaime who touches the scarab.
Now that's interesting. We've seen nothing in this new run to indicate lasting effects on spiky wee Brenda, but with Keith Giffen writing with Scott Kolins, we can cheerfully expect somthing down the line. Meanwhile, we have Jaime telling Ted Kord's top scientist, Teri Magnus, what he recalls about the day the scarab entered his life. When Teri reports back to Ted, he's not convinced Jaime's version is correct.
We also learn a bit about Ted's own experience of the superhero game before he met Jaime. We don't see how far he got, but he did come up with a name.
As for neighbour Dan Garrett, in comics history he was the original Blue Beetle, and Ted Kord's teacher. That relationship seems to have gone, but Dan has certainly trod the path of adventure. Sadly, we learn this in a flashback that shows not his beginnings, but his probable end.
And which version of Dr Fate is that? That's not a look any previous version I know of has had, including best-known wearer of Nabu's helmet Kent Nelson, and the most recent, Khalid Nassour. And it's hardly heroic, letting Dan die.
So, putting the flashbacks in order it seems Dan gained the scarab, showed it to Ted, it inspired Ted's hero name and Dan eventually became addicted to possessing the artefact. It drew him towards El Paso, as something hunted him, he met his Fate and the scarab drifted down/up-river to Jaime, Brenda and Paco. Presumably Ted investigated his friend's death and it led to him tracking down the scarab, Jaime and becoming the World's Worst Mentor.
I love it when a plan comes together. Giffen and Kolins haven't made us wait long before starting to answer some of the mysteries of the new Blue Beetle and now they have, I'm gripped. Reconnecting the three Blue Beetles in DC history adheres to the DC Rebirth mission of embracing legacy - and I couldn't be happier.
For a few pages this issue I suspected that this book's Ted Kord - who's out of step with the young, shaggy-haired New 52 version, we met in, if memory serves, Superman - was in fact that guy from Giffen and Kolins' Justice League 3001. After all, that much-missed - well, at least by myself and Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary - series did originate the character of Teri Magnus, future Flash. And its Batgirl, Tina Sung, came back through time with Teri and is a pal of Jaime's sister. Plus, Ted has made the odd comment which could indicate he knows another version of Jaime, and there've been references to the pre-Flashpoint version's heart attack. But that guy would never dismiss Dan's fears, as he does in the flashback, so it's likely this is New 52 Ted having regained the missing ten years we know someone stole from DC history. He's older, he's superheroed some and he's had a cardiac episode.
Can you tell I'm engaged? And that's without Sugar & Spike, who joined the book's supporting cast last issue, showing up for so much as a panel. Giffen and Kolins keep the intrigue coming, Giffen's script is as sparky as ever and Kolins' art, coloured by Romulo Fajardo Jr, sizzles with character. My favourite page isn't an action sequence, but the moment before the origin...
Kolins and Fajordo make the setting real, with such details as the steps, and the light on the river, while the movement of the trio also impresses. So far as the big moments go, this is one spooky Dr Fate.
Other points of interest - classmate Naomi, who's been making goo-goo eyes at Jaime since the debut issue, finally makes her move - she seems lovely, so is likely a monster. Dan Garrett wears a wedding ring, so who's the missus? Superheroine Nightshade, who's not been seen for years, has already been referenced by Ted, and we see other ID Eve Eden in a picture frame in his apartment this issue - so when's she going t appear? What's up with unseen student Raoul collapsing in class? And this can't be a coincidence.
Surely 'Cho' is a misspelled 'Kho' and we're heading for the reintroduction of New 52 Omac Kevin Kho? In which case, this series needs to be fortnightly to pack in all the characters and incidents Kolins and Giffen are lining up.
As it is, it's a monthly treat, providing the regular injection of ideas Giffen always brings to the DC line, along with the crazy, but well-considered visuals Kolins is known for. They're helping rebuild a battered universe in a thoroughly entertaining series.