Dan Garret

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Dan Garret
Blue Beetle 04.jpg
Blue Beetle #4 (October 1940). Cover artist unknown; possibly Edd Ashe.
Publication information
Publisher Fox Comics (except #12–30: Holyoke Publishing)
Charlton Comics
DC Comics
First appearance Mystery Men Comics #1
Created by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski

Dan Garret is a fictional superhero from DC Comics first appearing in Mystery Men Comics by Fox Comics created by Charles Nicholas. He is the first Blue Beetle predating Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes.

Publication history

The original Blue Beetle, Dan Garret, first appeared in Fox Comics' Mystery Men Comics #1 (cover-dated August 1939), with art by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski (as Charles Nicholas); though the Grand Comics Database tentatively credits Will Eisner as the scripter.[1] A rookie police officer, he wore a special bulletproof costume and took "Vitamin 2X" which endowed him with super-energy, and he was assisted by a neighborhood pharmacist in his fight against crime. Blue Beetle starred in a comic book series, comic strip and radio serial, but like most Golden Age superheroes, he fell into obscurity in the 1950s. The comic book series saw a number of anomalies in publication: 19 issues, #12 through #30, were published through Holyoke Publishing; no issue #43 was published; publication frequency varied throughout the run; and there were gaps where issues were not published, with large ones occurring in early 1947 and between mid-1948 and early 1950.

In the mid-1950s, Fox Comics went out of business and sold the rights to the Blue Beetle to Charlton Comics.[2] That company published a few sporadic adventures of the Golden Age character before revamping the hero in 1964.[3] Charlton tried three times to use the character to carry a self-titled series. Two of the attempts retained the numbering of a previous title. These also were eventually replaced with new titles that carried on the numbering. The new series was short-lived.

Fictional character biography

Fox Feature Syndicate and Holyoke Publishing

The first appearance of the Blue Beetle, Mystery Men Comics #1 (1939). Art by Charles Nicholas.

Dan Garret[4] was a son of a police officer killed by a criminal. This Fox Feature Syndicate version of the character debuted in Mystery Men Comics #1 (August 1939) and began appearing in his own 60-issue series shortly thereafter. Fox Feature Syndicate sponsored a "Blue Beetle Day" at the 1939 New York World's Fair on August 7, 1940, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and including 300 children in relay-race finals at the Field of Special Events, following preliminaries in New York City parks. The race was broadcast over radio station WMCA.[5]

Rookie patrolman Dan Garret originally fought crime as the Blue Beetle without the benefit of superhuman abilities.[6] Garret later donned a bulletproof blue costume (described by Garret as being chain-mail made of a cellulose material which was "as thin and light as silk but stronger than steel") and temporarily gained superhuman strength and stamina by ingesting the mysterious "Vitamin 2X".[7] Like the Green Hornet, the Blue Beetle would use his signature scarab symbol to bedevil criminals, leaving it to be easily found, hanging it down into a room on a string and even projecting its enlarged image onto a wall with a flashlight.

The supporting cast remained fairly stable throughout this original run and included Joan Mason, a beautiful blond reporter for the Daily Blade who would ultimately star in her own backup stories, and Mike Mannigan, Dan's stereotypically Irish partner on the force who believed despite all evidence to the contrary that the Blue Beetle was a criminal and was always trying to arrest him with little success. Dr. Franz, a local pharmacist and inventor of the bulletproof suit and 2-X formula (as well as many other handy gadgets, including the portable wireless telephone a good half-century before they came into common use), played a large role in the early issues but eventually faded from the cast. The Beetle also had a short-lived spunky kid sidekick in the form of Sparkington J. Northrup (Sparky), who originally wore an abbreviated version of the Beetle's costume but later went into action wearing his regular clothes.[8]

During World War II, Dan Garret became a government agent who was often sent overseas on secret missions, but after peace was declared he returned to his old role of neighborhood cop. The Blue Beetle's powers slowly increased over time with him eventually gaining the ability to fly and x-ray vision among other bizarre talents that changed from issue to issue at the whim of the writers. However, when superheroes fell out of vogue in the late 1940s, Fox started to downplay his superheroic aspects and his superhuman abilities were removed, and his now considerably darker adventures became full of sadistic violence and scantily-clad women until he was eventually relegated to hosting true crime stories before the character went on hiatus.

A popular character in his era, the Blue Beetle had his own short-lived comic strip, drawn by a pseudonymous Jack Kirby and others, and a radio serial that ran for 48 thirteen-minute episodes.

Charlton Comics

Blue Beetle vol. 2,#1 (June 1964). Cover art by Frank McLaughlin.

Charlton Comics obtained the rights to the Blue Beetle and reprinted some stories in its anthology titles and in a four-issue Blue Beetle reprint series numbered 18–21.

In 1964, during the Silver Age of comics, Charlton revised the character for a new Blue Beetle series. Charlton's new Blue Beetle retained the original's name (adding a second "t"), but none of his powers or origin, making him a different character. This Beetle was archaeologist Dan Garrett, who obtained a number of superhuman powers (including super strength and vision, flight, and the ability to generate energy blasts) from a mystical scarab he found during a dig in Egypt, where it had been used to imprison an evil mummified Pharaoh.[9] He would transform into the Blue Beetle by saying the words "Kaji Dha!" This version, by writer Joe Gill and artist Tony Tallarico, was played at least initially for camp, with stories like "The Giant Mummy Who was Not Dead". The Charlton Dan Garrett version of the Blue Beetle ran only until 1966 before his replacement debuted.[10]

AC Comics

Both Blue Beetles (indeed, all three Blue Beetles) reappeared in the third issue of Americomics, a title published by AC Comics in 1983/1984. In the first story in this issue, Ted Kord fought a bogus Dan Garrett, but the second story was more significant. It revealed that the original 1940s Dan was reincarnated as the Silver Age version (minus his memories of his earlier existence) by some unspecified "gods", presumably the ones responsible for his mystic scarab. The gods subsequently resurrected Dan again and sent him off to save Ted Kord's life (leaving him a note saying simply, "Try not to get killed this time") After this adventure, Kord turned the Blue Beetle name back over to Dan. Americomics was canceled after issue #6, and so far this story has never been referenced by any other publisher.

DC Comics

The Charlton version of Dan Garrett was spotlighted in the second issue of DC's 1980s Secret Origins series, in which his origin was retold along with that of Ted Kord. Subsequent appearances by Dan Garrett (in flashback stories) include guest spots or cameos in Infinity, Inc., Captain Atom, JLA: Year One, and Legends of the DC Universe.

The character briefly returned in DC Comics' first run of Blue Beetle,[11] resurrected by his mystical scarab to battle against his successor. He can also be seen in various flashback stories. His 1940s incarnation is briefly glimpsed in DC's 1993 limited series The Golden Age.

Dynamite Entertainment

In issue #0 of the Project Superpowers miniseries, the Fox Feature Syndicate version of the Blue Beetle appeared in flashbacks (as by now the character/spelling "Dan Garret" was in the public domain).[12] To avoid trademark conflicts with DC Comics, he is referred to in this series by the nickname "Big Blue".[13]

Legacy

It was eventually established that the Charlton Comics incarnation of the Dan Garrett Blue Beetle made his debut on August 14, 1939.[14] The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle has met Daniel's granddaughter, Danielle,[15] and has also met Dan himself.[16]

In other media

Radio

Blue Beetle radio.jpg
  • The Blue Beetle had a short career on the radio, between May and September 1940. Motion picture and radio actor Frank Lovejoy was the Blue Beetle for the first 13 episodes, while for the rest of the shows, the voice was provided by a different, uncredited actor.

Film

Television

  • Dan Garrett makes a brief, non-voiced appearance in Batman: The Brave and the Bold in the episode "Fall of the Blue Beetle!" and his suit appears in the episode "Menace of the Madniks!" next to Ted Kord's suit.
  • In Smallville episode, "Booster", Kal-El mentioned his name in which he was a Kord Industries scientist who was killed after the Scarab bonded with him.
  • Dan Garrett, the original Blue Beetle, appears in a non-speaking cameo in the episode "Failsafe" of Young Justice, in which several scenes depict the members of the Justice Society of America, in 1939. Dan appears among several of the most prominent members of the team, such as Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, and Flash. The episode "Intervention" later tells the full story of the scarab: ancient Bialyan mystics deactivated its Reach control centuries ago, and it lay dormant until it was discovered by Dan Garrett, who fused with it to become the first Blue Beetle.

References

  1. ^ Wojtkoski's family has supplied the online comics encyclopedia "The Lambiek Comiclopedia" with documentation to support the overall Wojtkoski credit. Another artist, Charles Nicholas Cuidera, also drew Blue Beetle stories later, and has claimed to have been the creator, but comics historians credit Wojtkoski.
    • Mougin, Lou. "Mystery Men Comics #1". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
    • "Charles Nicholas". The Lambiek Comiclopedia. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Fox Feature Syndicate". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  3. ^ The two initial Charlton runs were:
    • Mougin, Lou. "Blue Beetle (1955)". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
    • "Blue Beetle (1964)". Grand Comics Database. Klein, Bob, Ramon Schenk (indexers). Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ In the earliest Golden Age appearances and during the mid-1960s run by writer-artist Steve Ditko, the original Blue Beetle was referred to as Dan "Garret", spelled with one "t".
  5. ^ "Program Today at the World's Fair". The New York Times. August 7, 1940. Retrieved April 7, 2013.  Abstract; full article requires fee or subscription
  6. ^ "The Blue Beetle (1939)". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  7. ^ Nicholas, Charles (a). Mystery Men Comics 13 (August 1940), Fox Feature Syndicate
  8. ^ "The Origin and Legend of the Golden Age Blue Beetle". WonderworldComics.com. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  9. ^ Beatty, Scott (2008). "Blue Beetle". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 57. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. 
  10. ^ "The Blue Beetle (1964)". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 5, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  11. ^ Wein, Len (w), Cullins, Paris (a). "...And Death Shall Have No Dominion!" Blue Beetle v6, 18 (November 1987), DC Comics
  12. ^ Ross, Alex, Jim Krueger (w), Ross, Alex (a). "Last Gleaming" Project Superpowers 0 (January 2008), Dynamite Entertainment
  13. ^ Ross, Alex, Jim Krueger (w), Paul, Carlos (a). "...Undimmed by Human Tears" Project Superpowers 4 (June 2008), Dynamite Entertainment
  14. ^ Johns, Geoff, Jeff Katz (w), Jurgens, Dan (p), Rapmund, Norm (i). "52 Pick-Up, Chapter 2: Leggo My Ego" Booster Gold v2, 2 (November 2007), DC Comics
  15. ^ Giffen, Keith, John Rogers (w), Rouleau, Duncan (a). "Inside Man" Blue Beetle v7, 9 (January 2007), DC Comics
  16. ^ Johns, Geoff, Jeff Katz (w), Jurgens, Dan (p), Rapmund, Norm (i). "52 Pick-Up, Chapter 6: Meet the Beetles" Booster Gold v2, 6 (March 2008), DC Comics
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