This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Jaime Reyes, the current alter-ego of the superhero known as the Blue Beetle. While there’s been several previous holders of the identity (dating back to the Golden Age of comics), Jaime is the first non-Caucasian Blue Beetle. Jaime first appeared in “Infinite Crisis” #3 in 2006, and was created by writers Keith Giffen and John Rogers, as well as artist Cully Hamner.
Jaime’s backstory states he grew up in El Paso, Texas, where he led a fairly conventional life, surrounded by his loving family and friends. (Yes, a modern superhero without a traumatic backstory. However, a few subsequent stories tried to crank up the melodrama.)
One day, Jaime found an object that looked like a scarab beetle, which he took home. Unknown to Jaime, the scarab was actually a piece of alien technology, once possessed by one of the previous Blue Beetles, Dan Garrett. The scarab also briefly was possessed by the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, who was killed during the “Countdown to Infinite Crisis” story. While Jaime was asleep, the scarab fused itself to Jaime’s spine, making removing it impossible. The superhero Booster Gold (Kord’s friend) eventually tracked down the scarab’s whereabouts, and Jaime himself. Several adventures later, Jaime decided to use the scarab’s powers to become the newest Blue Beetle. Jaime even shared his superheroic identity with his family and friends.
As for the scarab itself, it’s an alien battlesuit created by a conquering alien race that wound up on Earth many years ago. This was a retcon from its initial origins as a magical artifact in its earlier appearances. However, the retcon showed the scarab had been partially influenced by magic during its stay on Earth. The suit is capable of acting on its own will at times, sometimes requiring Jaime to override the suit’s instincts. Abilities of the scarab include various high-tech facilities: weapon generation, detecting radiation, etc. The suit can also communicate with Jaime (and vice-versa).
Despite his short timespan as a character, Jaime’s been the most prominently featured Blue Beetle outside of comics.
Jaime regularly appeared in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” including in the series premiere. He was voiced by Will Friedle (the voice of Ron Stoppable).
Jaime also appeared on “Smallville” (his first live-action appearance), where he was played by actor Jaren Brandt Bartlett.
Blue Beetle also appeared on “Young Justice,” where he was voiced by Eric Lopez.