Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I SHOULD HAVE written Ted Kord: Rebirth

Obviously, this post is my version of mightygodking’s classic series of posts called “Why I should write the Legion”. Except, instead of a series, this is a single post and I’m not campaigning for DC to let me have at one of their biggest, most troublesome titles.

I went on a bit of a mini-rant in the comments of a recent post explaining my thoughts, attitude, and subsequent behaviour where Ted Kord (a.k.a. not the original Blue Beetle, but the one before the current guy) is concerned. After thorough introspection, I realised that I was hard on good ol’ Ted, because I didn’t think he reached his heroic potential (in part as a result of the Blue & Gold days).

My assessment of Blue Beetle’s potential has always reminded me of a coaching model called the inner game, which posits everyone has two selves. Self 1 is constantly giving Self 2 self-instructions while the person trying to perform at his/her best. This never has the intended effect. In fact, the self-instruction often becomes Interference. It stands to reason that if you reduce the interference, you’ll be more likely to reach your potential.

Potential - Interference = Performance


Po – i = Pe

It may not come as a surprise to any reader of this blog, but the “i” in Ted’s equation IMHO was Booster Gold. As previously stated, generally interference is comprised of self-talk, but one could argue that the thousands of hours that Ted spent with Booster affected his self-talk in such a way that Booster (or rather the Blue & Gold pranks, schemes, etcetera) got into his head.

Also notice that I said reduce the interference and not eliminate the interference completely. Hey, that would turn Ted into Batman and no-one wants that :)

For more on The Inner Game, click here.

Confession time: I came up with this nearly a decade ago while Ted Kord was still alive and only added the word Rebirth and Reason # 2 for obvious reasons. My plan was to kill off Ted - for his own good. Okay, that “for his own good” bit makes me sound like a crazy super-villain…And, yes, yes, I know it’s seriously bad form to even plan to kill off a hero (in his prime?)

Okay, so now that I’ve explained why I felt the need to rework Ted Kord by killing and reviving him, let’s get back to the MGK-style answers to the title of this post. In other words, what were my plans are for Mister Kord (or the reasons for anyone to read the comic)?

Reason # 1: Ted wouldn’t have been reborn as Blue Beetle.

Reason # 2: I wouldn’t have killed off the new Blue Beetle.

Reason # 3: There would have been a joyful reunion and goodbye between Ted and Booster Gold. Think Frodo and Sam at the end of ‘The lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.’ A lot of joy, but also tears.

Reason # 4: Ted would have moved to Fawcett City to work in one of its many museums as an exhibition technician, but would have engaged in hero stuff all over.

Reason # 5: Ted would have had rather unfriendly encounters with Shazam and Doctor Fate.

Reason # 6: Ted would have defeated a Green Lantern...Say what? Oh, I forgot to mention that Ted would have had superpowers.

How would all of the above have come to pass?

Well, I have to admit that elements of my story and character redesign resemble the revised Dan Garrett (Charlton Comics) mystical version of Blue Beetle as well as the current Jaime Reyes (Grant Morrison-reworked) alien-tech version of Blue Beetle. The resemblance to the former is weird, because I only learnt more about Dan Garret version (beyond his name) in the last year or so. The resemblance to the latter is weird, because my tastes in character design usually differ from Morrison’s by about 35 – 40%.

However, I realise that just the name Blue Beetle evokes pretty specific imagery even within the minds of those unfamiliar with the hero. It’s that kind of name.

Don’t know whether this is in my blogger profile, but I have a rather strong interest in Mythology. Through the years, I’ve heard and read about myths concerning kings and heroes and gods travelling to the afterlife or spirit realm. One of the most surprisingly common elements is the whole “only those who are chosen or worthy may enter” part. Sometimes all that is necessary is a series of passwords or proving your identity.

The latter may not be as stringent as it sounds and sometimes it involves mere visual confirmation of special markings (the equivalent of a two-point fingerprint match where you would expect a ten-point match to be required). “Yeah, I guess this is you.” Remember, in many myths, heroes are often depicted as entering their “hall of heroes” in their battle garb.

This is where Ted’s rebirth comes in: The beetle markings on his costume cause the gatekeeper to mistake Ted for a long-awaited scarab warrior whose life-blood, like the Blue Nile, was prophesied never to run dry. Thus, when Ted enters this specific afterlife and is mistaken for the scarab warrior, they lower him into the water of life.

Side note of Nile trivia: If you travel upstream on the Nile River, it has two “feeder / source rivers” called the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The Nile represents the ebb and flow of life in Egyptian mythology.

As a result he would have gained life (materializing on earth) and mystical powers:
• superhuman agility;
• the ability to manifest energy long blades from the side of his forearms; and
• the ability to transform into a “swarm” of scarabs that can drain the energy of anything they touch. (Reason # 6 doesn’t seem that impossible now, does it?)

Blue Beetle is (or rather would have been) dead – the Ted Kord incarnation, anyway. Blue Scarab would have lived! Reason # 1 makes sense now. Blue Scarab is more apt name and just sounds more menacing.

Also, because there’s also a White Nile, there would also have to be a White Scarab (That’s what Reason # 5 would have been about – Shazam and Doctor Fate would’ve tried to warn Ted about White Scarab, a dangerous and evil dude. They would’ve told him that Reason # 4 wasn’t just a whim on his part and that there was a more prophetic reason his decision.)

However, this is where we would have seen that Ted is a different man from the pre-death self when he responds by questioning where all those dire, prophetic, I-see-it-coming warnings were when he died.

General Question: Shouldn’t there be a little more diverse reactions of the recently returned heroes to being alive? I mean, not everyone is going to carry on as if nothing happened.


  1. You've obvsiouly put so much thought into this and Ted seems to be a very dear character to you so I feel bad disagreeing. But one of my complaints about comics today is that there's a lack of characters who don't take themselves too seriously, and Ted filled that void for me. To me, he'll always be the lighthearteded comic relief of the Justice League, but when it came down to it, he'll always step to the plate. I mean, he took on Despero all by himself if I remember correctly.

    I just think it would be too hard to graft your well-thought-out ideas onto how people see Ted Kord now. I kind of liked that he had no superpowers, as I generally like heroes sans powers (Batman, Adam Strange, et al), because that shows more courage on their part.

    Booster was a bad influence, yes, but Ted came up with a lot of crazy ideas as well. (I think Kooeykooeykooey was his idea and he had to drag Booster into it, if I remember.)

    I can understand where you're coming from, and how you want Ted to do more and be more than he was. I dunno, comedy is something that brightens my day and I want a comic to make me laugh every once and a while. Plus, I think there should be some more "immature" characters out there--not everyone can be serious and adult. (Maybe it's cause I'm a little bit like that myself, and seeing a superhero goofing off makes me feel better about my occasional lack of immaturity!) I like seeing a diverse group of personalities who deep down are still good people and will get the job's just more colorful. My idea JLA would have immature characters, the jerk (okay, Guy Gardner), the shy one, the loud one, the sarcastic one, etc., etc. It seems like I can't tell anyone apart these days because everyone's personality has been "mainstreamed."

    I know what you mean by different reactions when coming back to life--it could easily be used as a jumping point for restructruting one's life, and hopefully someone will have that revelation. I think you've got some great ideas that could be developed, but I'm such a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to changing characters. I like them to stay exactly the same as when I first met them. (For a while there, I even considered Booster Gold's newly-found maturity a little jarring...did the editors at DC consider it impossible to root for a hero who was shallow and out for fame and glory, even if he usually did the right thing?) Questions to be answered at a later date....

    Sending Ted back to the scarab's roots in Egypt is pretty cool, though. How many other proposals have you got hidden up your sleeve? ;)

  2. Actually, I didn't put that much thought into it (at time of posting). It's something I found on an old piece a paper - I used to do this quite a lot (warp a hero's origins and current life). I think I did two or more for Blue Beetle - the others had him without powers(I think). My only ground rule was NOT to make him a Batman-esque hero or worse a Nightwing-esque hero. I doubt I kept all of those, though.

    This was just an idea I had and NOT necessarily my favourite way to go with Ted.

    I had honestly thought I had only saved this post as a draft. Tip to bloggers: Don't post while under the weather.

    That's probably why I omitted the fact that Ted's SECRET IDENTITY (?) would retain his sense of humour. I think his lightheartedness makes for a better cover than being 'mild-mannered' or being a playboy. This is similar to a CRAZY idea I had for a television show: Alias meets Friends. Literally, it would be exactly like Alias (totally SERIOUS secret agent stuff) all day, but whenver the protagonist came home it would be like a sitcom. Don't agents/heroes need to decompress after saving the world?

    Ted also a bad influence on Booster? Agreed. See, I was brainwashed by some of the JLA big seven (and others) who for some reason looked at Booster as the culprit (when both were equally to blame). Maybe, it's Superman's history with Booster and the man of steel being a gossip who can type emails at super-speed. I bet if we analyzed the issue where Booster Gold joined the Justice League, we'd find people giving him bad looks before he gave them any reason...Conspiracy of Steel #3

    Another omission I made is that this version of Beetle would buck the 'you-were-a-member-then-you-died-now-you're-reborn-wanna-rejoin?' trend with teams and refuses League membership.

    I agree with concerning Booster being a bit too mature...There needs to be a diversity of motivations for heroes.

    Proposals? Quite a few. Most of them are storylines I'd like see or first meetings of heroes that I think should've happened earlier (given what has gone before in hero history).

  3. That's probably why I omitted the fact that Ted's SECRET IDENTITY (?) would retain his sense of humour. I think his lightheartedness makes for a better cover than being 'mild-mannered' or being a playboy.

    That's pretty clever. Who could take a silly guy seriously? Who would ever think he could be a super hero? I like that!

    Is it just me, or has less and less attention been paid to superheros' secret identities? I was just thinking that the other seems like nobody is really worried about covering up their secret identities anymore. To me, that was was of the best parts of superhero comics. I loved seeing Clark Kent and the Daily Planet crew. I can't remember the last time a superhero went out into the world in plain clothes and just was a regular person.

    This is similar to a CRAZY idea I had for a television show: Alias meets Friends. Literally, it would be exactly like Alias (totally SERIOUS secret agent stuff) all day, but whenver the protagonist came home it would be like a sitcom. Don't agents/heroes need to decompress after saving the world?

    That sounds rather amusing. It kind of reminds me of the good ol' JLI days where you'd see the heroes in the downtime as much as fighting. I remember that episode when the alley cat wandered into the embassy and tangled with Guy Gardner. And Beetle and Fire and J'onn just stood there watching him get shredded. It had nothing at all to do with superheroing but it was just so amusing. :)

    Hope you're feeling better, btw!