Blue Beetle Breaks Out: Josh Trujillo Shares the Next Steps in Jaime’s Journey
September 20, 2023
The future is looking bright for Jaime Reyes—he just has to figure out what that is.
Like most young adults, DC’s most recent Blue Beetle is trying to navigate that nebulous period between adolescence and adulthood. That’s difficult enough on its own, and it’s even harder when you’re a superhero.
As the Blue Beetle, Jaime is part of the DC Universe’s next generation of protectors. He’s also having quite a moment this year. His debut film is currently in theaters and today the debut issue of his first ongoing series in over five years hits stores. Written by Josh Trujillo and drawn by Adrián Gutiérrez, the team behind the critically acclaimed Blue Beetle #1
I recently had a chance to sit down with Trujillo (us Joshes have to stick together) about his plans for Jaime. From old friends to new enemies, here are some of the cool things we can expect as Trujillo takes Jaime into the Dawn of DC.
Before we get into the new Blue Beetle series, let’s talk about Graduation Day. You had a very unique opportunity there because you got to set up some of the concepts that were used in the movie, like Palmera City and Victoria Kord. How did that work?
It was an incredible opportunity. We wanted to tell this story about Jaime’s next phase in life. What does it mean to go from a teenager to a young adult? And what is the stress and the challenges and the opportunities there? And we also had this opportunity with the movie coming out. DC was asking itself, “Is there something here we can bring into the comics world?”
Fortunately, it really aligned with the story I wanted to tell. And quite selfishly, I just love Victoria Kord and I wanted to see her on the page.
Everyone loves a girlboss.
She’s definitely that, and it’s nice to go fill out Ted Kord’s supporting cast in a way that we haven’t really had in a while.
How much did you know about what was going to be in the movie?
It was more of a blank slate. They gave me the pillars to work with. I still haven’t seen the movie. I don’t know what happens in the movie. (Editor’s note: This was true when this interview took place, but he’s since changed that.) I hope what I did is similar to what happens in the Blue Beetle film, but it won’t be a copy.
It makes Graduation Day a cool companion piece for the film.
I’m hoping to make the book as accessible as possible for both the fans of the movie and fans of Jaime in general. And even people like me who spent our younger years reading the Keith Giffen, Cully Hamner, Rafael Albuquerque and John Rogers run. We really draw from those iconic stories in Graduation Day.
And now you have your Dawn of DC Blue Beetle ongoing. Where do we find Jaime when this series begins?
Jaime has a lot on his plate. He’s in a new city. He’s working at his tia’s diner. He has a bunch of superheroes he needs to take care of and kind of guide to their next step of their journey. We’ve got Dynastes, the Yellow Beetle. We’ve got the Nitida, the Green Beetle. We’ve got a whole cast of characters. We have Starfire, Ted Kord, and there is Victoria scheming in the background. But really going into this, Jaime is going to learn how to be a leader. He is going to find this new confidence and he’s going to own his new powerset. At the end of Graduation Day, he got new armor, and so we’re going to explore what that means. And we’re also going to throw a bunch of villains at him to see what hurts him.
Will college be part of this experience?
Jaime is famously on a bit of a gap year. He is exploring his superhero identity. He is exploring his new surroundings. And eventually, I’m sure he’ll go back to school. There’s that famous issue where Jaime said his ultimate desire is to become a dentist, and I always feel like the dentistry is endgame. It’s just going to be a long path to get there.
What inspired you to have Jaime take a gap year?
I think a lot of teenagers, when they’re coming out of high school, they don’t necessarily have a plan. I wanted to reflect that in Jaime. He’s so busy saving the world, he doesn’t necessarily think to take his AP exams, or to apply to any colleges. And so, just to put him in a situation that a lot of teen heroes don’t face is kind of interesting to me.
Starfire is one of my favorite DC characters, so I was excited to learn that she would be mentoring Jaime. What made you come up with that pairing? What kind of relationship will the two of them have?
I love Princess Koriand’r. I think people kind of confuse her optimism with naivete. You know how some people are street smart? Starfire is space smart. She can tap into this cosmic DC Universe in a way a lot of other heroes can’t. And she’s also not of this Earth. So, in some ways, she can relate to Jaime’s scarab, Khaji Da, and his journey as much as she can to Jaime. I wanted someone who could teach Jaime how to be a warrior, how to be a leader, and Starfire and Jaime have crossed paths before, so I really wanted to build up that relationship.
What will Yellow Beetle and Green Beetle bring to the supporting cast?
When last we saw them, they were sent by the Horizon, which is an offshoot of the villainous Reach, to wipe out any Reach technology they came into contact with. This means Jaime and his scarab. Fortunately, Jaime did not get destroyed and he was able to convince them to turn to the side of heroes.
Right now, they’re figuring out their new lives. Dynastes has super strength and invulnerability. Nitida is a bit of a shapeshifter and size-changer. I am really excited to explore Jaime’s cast of characters, add some new faces, add some new heroes, and kind of see how they play off of each other.
You deal with legacy in a lot of your books. We can’t talk about Jaime without talking about Ted Kord and Dan Garrett. We know that Ted is going to be one of Jaime’s mentors, but is the shadow of Dan Garrett anywhere in this series?
We’re introducing a new villain called the Blood Scarab to the Blue Beetle mythos. He has ties to Dan Garrett. In many ways, he has ties to the original Blue Beetle villain. I challenge everyone to go dig up their long boxes and try to figure out who that is. Dan is always front of mind in this story, but obviously, we’re here to talk about Jaime and his journey.
How do you feel Jaime has grown as a hero since he debuted during
I think he’s found his footing in a lot of ways. He was kind of a little wide-eyed. He’s always a little overwhelmed. But I think he’s found his strength and his place. I think by the end of Graduation Day, you see how his heroic journey is kind of set up for the next stage. And now, he doesn’t just have to look after himself—he has this new family of heroes.
Jaime’s not an orphan. Unlike a lot of young DC heroes, his family wasn’t brutally killed. Can you talk about Jaime’s relationship with his family and if that’s going to figure into your run at all?
When last we saw Jaime’s parents, they kicked him out of the house for not having a plan and sent him to live with his tia. Family is really essential to Jaime’s story. It’s not just the legacy of his superhero identity, it’s the legacy of his parents. He comes from such a proud heritage, and I want to explore that in the book. We’re going to see a lot more of Gloria and Marisol, and hopefully before too long, we’ll see a return to El Paso.
Another relationship that’s very important to the title is the one between you and Adrián Gutiérrez. What’s your working relationship like with each other?
I get pages from Adrian almost every single day, and it’s the highlight of waking up every morning. We’ve really become quite smitten with each other. He’s an incredible talent. He has such an enthusiasm. The whole Blue Beetle team really has bonded in a big way. We have our colorist, Wil Quintana, who really makes every page shine. We have our letterer, Lucas Gattoni, who not just letters the English edition, but also the Spanish edition. I think he’s the only letterer in comics doing that. And of course, our captain, our editor, Andrew Marino. Team Blue Beetle is a tight cohesive unit, and we’re just excited to tell as many stories with Jaime as we can.
Blue Beetle #1 by Josh Trujillo, Adrián Gutiérrez and Wil Quintana is now available in print and as a digital comic book. Josh’s previous Blue Beetle miniseries, Blue Beetle: Graduation Day, is now available in a graphic novel collection and to read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.