The Infected: Scarab #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Dennis Hallam, art by Freddie E. Williams II, colors by Jeremy Colwell, and letters by Thomas Napolitano. In this issue, Jaime Reyes is paid a visit by The Batman Who Laughs. But, what begins as a seemingly harmless nightmare quickly devolves into something much worse for the Blue Beetle.
Prequel stories are always tough. Since the ending is already known it provides a unique challenge to the creative team. While The Infected: Scarab #1 needs to elicit an emotional response from its readers, it can be challenging to do especially since last month’s Batman/Superman already revealed Jaime’s eventual fate. Nevertheless, the creative team here does what it can to make the book tell a solid story. And for the most part, they succeed.
Having said that I feel that The Infected: Scarab #1 does struggle with a key issue. This issue is in how far it does, or doesn’t, go. As the Joker Toxin seeps into Jaime he becomes less and less his normal self. And while his changing mood is represented well in the dialogue, his actions lack the punch necessary for this transformation to really hit home. While he certainly behaves more and more like the villains as the story goes on, he never does anything significantly terrible by comic book standards. This makes The Infected: Scarab #1 feel like a momentary situation for the character like the staff knows Jaime will be back to his old self shortly and don’t want to make it too hard for him to get back to business as usual.
Beyond this unwillingness to commit to Blue Beetle’s transformation, the story does everything well. Jaime’s companions bounce between panic and concern as they struggle to help him overcome the madness that is consuming him. While Jamie himself is also developed well. His internal monologue feels fluid as he struggles with the unfolding situation.
The Infected: Scarab #1’s art is also very ably handled. The heavy use of shading works well to lean into the sense of darkness within the story. This is especially true as the eventual end for Jamie is already known. I also appreciated how much Williams is willing to put the art right in the thick of things. You can almost feel the breath of the characters. This closeness does what it can to add additional weight to the panels.
When all is said and done, The Infected: Scarab #1 is a well-handled story. The writing keeps the story going smoothly and the art supports its themes well. However, the previous feeling of holding Jamie back from a true hero’s fall keeps this book back from being anything more than good. I would say it is certainly worth reading if you have been following The Infected storyline and want to get all the details or just a big fan of Blue Beetle. For everyone else, I can’t call it a must-read.
The Infected: Scarab #1 is available November 20th wherever Comics are sold.
The Infected: Scarab #1
When all is said and done, The Infected: Scarab #1 is a well-handled story. The writing keeps the story going smoothly and the art supports its themes well.