Blue Beetle: Graduation Day embodies its title in more ways than one, tackling the word in a literal sense as well as its role in a hero's journey, along with all the chaos and aspirations that this major crossroads can bring. Writer Josh Trujillo brings a lovely lighthearted and relatable tone to Jaime's story, while artist Adrian Gutierrez, colorist Will Quintana, and letterer Lucas Gattoni bring it to life with eye-popping colors, vivid expressions, and electric action, all wrapped in a bow of genuine Latin culture and charm. If you're looking for a series that brilliantly encapsulates the hero at its core, look no further than Blue Beetle: Graduation Day #1.
Graduation Day finds Jaime in a funk, both on a professional and personal level. Jaime and Blue Beetle are one and the same, but when one aspect of life is going better than the other, we can often still compartmentalize enjoy the one. That's really not the case for Jaime though, as he's been struggling to control his transformations and is off his game during a fight. Meanwhile, he feels aimless in his non-superhero activities, as he attempts to figure out what his next step is as friends head to college and move ahead.
Most of us know what this feels like in some aspect of our lives, and Trujillo conveys the feelings of doubt, aimlessness, and loneliness, and even a bit of envy in a way that anyone can relate to. As someone who took a more unconventional path in the realm of higher education than most of my friends, it's extremely easy to identify with those feelings. Despite being at peace with what I was doing it still stung to not be a part of whatever my friends were doing in their own journeys. Jaime is already one of DC's most relatable and down-to-earth heroes, and Graduation Day will only confirm that.
Part of that is due to the importance of family in Jaime's life and how they will always play a role in Jaime's life no matter how many times he's saved the world or how powerful he becomes. This is someone who knows Superman, and yet his relationship with his parents and siblings honestly holds more importance. It's also why the comic book feels so authentic to Spanish culture, as does weaving Spanglish into the dialogue that strays away from the trope of sticking in a random Spanish word like an easter egg. The implementation here is far more natural, especially to those of us who grew up in households where the back and forth between languages was the norm. It's a small thing, but it matters.
By the way, Gutiérrez and Quintana are outstanding here, delivering scenes that pop with color and leap off the page while also letting the personality and weight of the moments shine through. The fights that do occur feel dynamic as if each punch carries weight, and yet Jaime getting hit with a million questions as soon as he enters the door is just as memorable and brimming with personality. That said, give Superman credit, because he's certainly a scene stealer.
When we get to the Blue Beetle of it all things don't disappoint in the least, as Graduation Day pulls at several intriguing threads regarding the Scarab's past and present, including one killer debut that can't help but catch your attention. Jaime's role in the DC Universe feels as if it's at a critical juncture, and the involvement of the League lends that weight but doesn't ever overshadow Jaime's story. This is Blue Beetle's story, and the involvement of The Reach is exciting and holds compelling mysteries that will hopefully build the foundation of this character's future in an ever-evolving world.
This is where I would typically list off any flaws, but frankly there just aren't any that I can point to. I truly enjoyed this story and what it sets into motion for the character and Jaime's role in the DC Universe moving forward. It's time for the next chapter in Blue Beetle's story, and if this issue is any indication, amazing things are in store.
Published by DC Comics
On November 29, 2022
Written by Josh Trujillo
Art by Adrián Gutiérrez
Colors by Wil Quintana
Letters by Lucas Gattoni
Cover by Adrián Gutiérrez and Wil Quintana