Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

History of the Blue Beetle and Fly Comics #3

In the third incarnations of Blue Beetle and the Fly, the masterful hand of Steve Ditko entered the fray and introduced some of his trademark elements to each series. We have already considered how each stacked up to the other, however a bit of expository history...

Blue Beetle - Charlton Comics June 1967- November 1968 / The Fly - Red Circle Comics May 1983- October 1984 
  
Blue Beetle was struggling creatively and financially as a property. Enter Steve Ditko, who did a near whole sale house cleaning and boiled the character back down to his critical elements. Gone was the superfluous and wildly fluctuating powers, cryptic origin and character motivations, and bland secret identity. Dan Garrett accompanied his good friend Ted Cord to investigate Ted's power mad scientist uncle Jarvis, and in the forthcoming battle Dan's Blue Beetle perished at the hands of Jarvis' robots (nevermind that previously Beetle faced aliens, ancient Egyptians, floating eyes and nasty bug men). Feeling guilty at inadvertently causing the death of the Beetle, Ted used his own creative capabilities to adopt the identity. In place of a super-humanly powerful body, Blue Beetle now had a flying Bug. Instead of energy beams emitted from his hands, he was armed with a buzz-gun.


While Blue Beetle's revival was merely a year and four months after his cancellation, it took the Fly almost seventeen years to receive a third chance at his own publication. And when that day came, he was intended to be the cornerstone character upon which with the budding new Red Circle line was to be founded. Shortly thereafter, the Mighty Crusaders began an new edition running concurrent with the Fly's comic, and he gained the greatest level of exposure he had in decades. Within a couple issues of his revival, Steve Ditko jumped on board and highlight similar elements for the Fly that made the Beetle a critical fan favorite. Elements such as the everyman hero working feverishly against a system that would like to beat him down, mid-air acrobats, fancy holstered gadgets, romance ever elusive until the bitter end. Alas, neither reinterpretation of the bug-eyed bravehearts won over many fans, and each publication was canceled in short order.

Yet here at Charlton vs Mighty MLJ and, we suspect, in obscure corners of fandom, these are two beloved characters that have endured and show promise for further adventures (a conclusion DC reached when the acquired both characters for their own interpretations throughout the years and decades that followed).

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