Blue Beetle: Dan DiDio Explains How Jaime Reyes Was Created

Following the release of the Blue Beetle trailer last week, Dan DiDio -- a longtime DC editor and publisher who was in charge when Jaime Reyes made his first appearance in 2005 -- took to social media to share his recollections about the creation of the character. His input was key to Jaime taking the shape that he did, and his name is one of a handful othat started circulating a bit on social media, as fans celebrated Jaime's big-screen debut and looked forward to the movie, which is set to hit theaters later this year. And, as a result of DiDio's Facebook thread, fans got some fun trivia from other, unexpected places.

The post deals with how DiDio came up with some basic ideas about the character who would eventually be Jaime, and recruited Justice League International and 52 maestro Keith Giffen to help out. It was Giffen who brought on writer John Rogers (Leverage). Here's what he had to say about the process, with a few quick pauses to annotate and elaborate:

"I was happy to see all the positive reactions to the Blue Beetle trailer yesterday and surprised to see my name enter the conversation and then watch it quickly removed," DiDio wrote. "I usually don't react to things of this nature, but it did remind me of the time in comics when collaboration was key and credit was for a job well done. It also made me go back and check my recollection of things if only to show the path of creation and the work involved in bringing a character to life.

"It was in a creative summit, with Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winnick, and Editorial, for Infinite Crisis and all the surrounding series that it was decided to kill Ted Kord/ Blue Beetle. It was the defining moment of COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS and the event that launched a thousand stories. Now I knew I always wanted to kill Ted Kord, I needed a death that mattered to the fans, and given his past storylines (overweight, with a heart condition), I felt he was past his prime as a superhero. (it wasn't until later I learned of the Robin comic creative team's plans for Blue Beetle).

"I was working on a plan to slowly diversify the DC Universe. We had introduced Jason Rusch as Firestorm and Ryan Choi as Atom, and we were two years away from Kate Kane's Batwoman. So I wanted a new Blue Beetle younger (more in line with his original creator's Spider-Man), and I thought he should be Hispanic. And I liked his origin to be centered around the scarab.
So while Greg Rucka elevated the importance of the scarab in Countdown, I went out looking for a creative team to create and design the new Blue Beetle.

"The first stop was easy, Keith Giffen. He was a creative visionary of DC Comics for over a decade and one of those responsible for making the original Blue Beetle a comic book cult classic, along with Booster Gold. Keith loves a good challenge and blowing things up, so naturally, it seemed like an easy fit. Keith, whose wife was Latina, took the assignment primarily because the character was Hispanic, and he wanted this character to be done properly. But he wanted to make several changes to the loose ideas we had in place. Keith named the new Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes, placed the story in El Paso (given Jaime's Mexican descent) instead of New York, and, most importantly, moved the story away from being mystical and made it science fiction. (He loved faking out the audience, making them think in the wrong direction before turning the tables.). He also had the fabulous idea of an ancient feud between the scarab's race and the Lanterns, which, sadly, was never fully realized in the rest of the DCU. For the book, Keith, ever the collaborator, recommended John Rogers to work on the series with him. I don't remember where they connected. All I know is Keith was a fan of his work."

This is where we can pause quickly. Former Boom! Studios publisher Ross Richie chimed in below DiDio's post, pointing out in the comments that it was he who first introduced Giffen and Rogers.

"It was me!" Richie said. "Keith urged me to launch BOOM! Studios and provided me with many of the initial launch series and called one day and said, 'I'm doing Blue Beetle, who should I write it with?' I recommended John. Keith figured John was too busy as a screenwriter and would never work for comic rates. I knew different. I introduced them and off they went!"

"The plan was to introduce the New Blue Beetle in the seminal Infinite Crisis series before spinning him out in his own book (I wanted to make sure the series had the best launch pad for success), so while Geoff was deeply involved in getting the mini-series done and on time, we were still searching for a new look for Blue Beetle, and that's where we hit our first bump," DiDio continued. "We cast a very wide net for designs with all our go-to costume designers, but they all seem to fall a little short or ran too close to the previous designs. We were waiting for something fresh and bold, despite running out of time. I'm not sure who in Editorial contacted Cully Hamner, but I am glad they did.

"When Cully's designs came in, they were exactly what I was looking for. It had that Power Rangers/ Masked Rider influence with a look that stood out from our other characters. And in his design were notes on how the suit functioned, all of which Keith and John worked into their story. So we finally had a look and a team. So while Geoff seamlessly slipped Jaime into issue 3 of Infinite Crisis, Keith, John, and Cully worked on the series so that when Jaime makes his first costumed appearance in Infinite Crisis #5 (with a great Jim Lee cover), Blue Beetle #1 was on the shelf right next to it-perfect timing and team coordination making for an amazing first issue launch.

"Hard to believe that it was 17 years ago, and now we have a movie that's energizing fandom. It's also good to remember that all this started with the comics. Great to see people give credit where credit is due but also recognize that comics are at their best when it's a true collaboration and shared vision for all involved. For me, it's a reminder all this had to start somewhere."

Some interesting stuff, but there's one final note worth revisiting. On Twitter, veteran writer/artist Jerry Ordway said, "Amused to see Big Belly Burgers used in the Blue Beetle trailer! Created by John Byrne, me, and Mike Carlin for an Adventures of Superman story. Based on the Big Boys chain of my youth, but the visual based on editor DC editor Andy Helfer!"

The Big Belly Burger brand has appeared in the Arrowverse, but never the mascot, who appears on the packaging of the Blue Beetle burger. According to Ordway, though, he's unlikely to get money or credit from the use of the Belly mascot, since it has never happened when they use both Big Belly Burger and the Ace o' Clubs, a bar Ordway created for his Superman run in the '80s and early '90s, at theme parks around the world.