I found a real gem in the dollar comics bin over a week ago- this Countdown to Infinite Crisis 80 page special! Yes, back in 2005 this only went for a dollar, but you won't get new DC Comic for a price like that ever again- certainly not a thick issue like this! In spite of their tendency to polarize fans, I enjoyed the Crisis books from DC, this countdown issue perhaps even more that it's successor. I wasn't exactly sure what I had in my hands, or how it tied into the recent Justice League: Generation Lost and earlier Identity Crisis until I began to read it. I soon realized I had found the story of Ted Kord's death- the end of the second Blue Beetle! That's right... read on...!
It begins with Ted breaking into Checkmate, finding very sensitive information on all the Justive League members, before we a taken back a few days when Ted realizes something is wrong- Oracle/Barbara Gordon informs him 20 million has been imbezzled from Kord Omniversal, involving Waynetech ,putting Ted's finances into extreme distress and affecting those associated with him. It's here that Babs mentions O.M.A.C., associated with one of the receipts... we later discover their role in the DC Universe, how they are tied to Batman and his experiences in the League during Identity Crisis .
After Ted leaves the Batcave embarrassed, we are briefly shown schematics to the Brother MK I satellite Batman is building, his faith in Earth's metahumans in question after learning of Zatanna's mindwipe of Dr. Light and himself in Identity Crisis. Scandalous! There's also a 6-issue limited series, The OMAC Project, that ties into Infinite Crisis I need to read, all about Batman's weapon/insurance policy to protect Earth against metahumans. It's great to see all these smaller moments in between the larger story arcs I've read in the last 18 months or so since getting back into comics!
After Kord Omniversal's warehouse is broken into, Superman arrives, having been notified by a priority alarm at the JLA Watchtower. Ted explains the warehouse contained 100 lbs. of Kryptonite, Kord and S.T.A.R. Labs having been subcontracted to dispose of after Supergirl's arrival on Earth. Superman's awesome presence leaves Ted a little speechless, feeling only more inferior after the Man of Steel's quick exit.
Calculator reports the theft of kryptonite to Luthor and his Secret Society of Super Villains, who thinks Kord is harmless, but that Blue Beetle is up to something. Their plans along with Dr. Light for retribution against the League in the six issue Villains United and Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special, building up to Infinite Crisis.
After Booster Gold returns from California unexpectedly, pulling Ted out from under a dogpile of the Madmen gang outside his warehouse in the nick of time, the two friends head back to Ted's in search of the missing link to his recent bad luck. Booster insists that his 25th century origins qualify him as the expert in hacking, and it's his turn to drive the information highway. With one click of the mouse, the computer explodes under a bolt of lightning, catching the house on fire and thowing the two heroes to the floor. Ted leaps from the office window, friend in arms...
After the paramedics have taken Booster away in the ambulance, Ted spies a faint blue light in the wreckage of his burnt home. Recognizing it as the scarab that belonged to the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, Ted suspects a connection with Captain Marvel or the Wizard Shazam. The scarab was thought destroyed, but Carter Hall (Hawkman) found it a few weeks prior unscathed in an Egyptian temple and brought it to Ted. Unable to contact Captain Marvel, Ted flies his bug to Fawcett City, where the pulsating scarab leads him to the Wizard Shazam, who leaves him with more questions than he came with. "Great forces are at work and you are but a man...these are not the trials of a man", Shazam says, mystical vapors from the glowing scarab showing images of Lex Luthor. "Lex Luthor? How does he play into this? He's just a guy!" Ted insists, before the wizard teleports him back out of the otherworldly realm without the scarab.
Upon his return, Ted is nearly killed again when his bugship explodes! Later at the JLA Watchtower, Wonder Woman looks after Ted (Woof!) "Here's the secret about Diana: we all love her. Even Batman. It's the way she says your name, like she knows you and everything about you, the best and the worst. Like she knows and she loves you anyway."
Seemingly the only one listening to Ted, Diana finds merit in his suspicions, and tells Ted to keep her informed on the situation as she leaves for the embassy (Remember who kills Max Lord later!?) But J'onn is nonplussed, reminding Ted that in their line of work, attempts on their lives are part of the job, and that Diana was being sympathetic. Additionally, the Martian Manhunter is recieving an emergency transmission from Adam Strange, that the Thanagarians are invading Rann: another Countdown tie-in event, told in the 6 issue Rann-Thanagar War and one-shot book Rann-Thanager War: Infinite Crisis Special.
Feeling completely rejected, the Blue Beetle returns to the charred remains of his home, discovering a... BUG in the broken goggles of his outfit! Speeding off to see Michael (Booster Gold), the two conclude the surveillance equipment planted in the goggles was fashioned using parts of Booster's 25th century robot friend, Skeets. (Personally, I found that connection to be somewhat... tenuous. I'm uncertain what purpose this connection serves in the big picture... only to trace the perpetrators?? To bring Skeets back intot the DC Universe? ...maybe I missed something.)
Tracing Skeets signal back to a remote base in the Swiss Alps, Blue Beetle becomes aware of the clandestine Checkmate, and their extensive knowledge of the JLA member's secrets. He stumbles onto the file detailing his own information, his status listed as deceased! Ted turns to see none other than Maxwell Lord, a metahuman himself whose nose bleeds when mentally controlling someone using his powers of telepathy.
Knowing he's probably not going to escape with his life, Ted makes an attempt anyway, but is met outside by Max and one of the OMAC cyborgs, which promptly breaks his arm and slams him face-first into a wall. Waking up on the floor handcuffed later, Maxwell Lord argues his case, "All I want is to put Earth's destiny in the hads of humans, not people pretending to be human, Ted. In the hands of people like me... and people like you." "You want me to join you? That's why you're telling me all of this? Join me or die time, is that it?" Ted answers. "That's it exactly", Lord replies, taking aim at Ted. "Rot in hell, Max." ... BLAMM "Activate Project: OMAC... it's time to save the world from itself." Max says into his commlink after killing Ted Kord!
While it was tough to see this fan favorite lose the battle, this was a well written book, seamlessly told by five separate illustrators and three different writers, including the likes of Rags Morales, Phil Jimenez, Greg Rucka, and Geoff Johns. It's great catching up on what happened before Infinite Crisis. This past weekend I not only scored every issue of The OMAC Project crossover, but also the entirety of the Rann-Thanagar War, Villains United, and Spectre: Day of Vengeance crossover events as well. Really excited!
*Check out my post featuring DC Universe Classics Blue Beetle and Booster Gold!
More Later- Make It FUN!