Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Blue Beetle #26

I love Blue Beetle. Every month, without fail, Jaime's adventures make me smile. His family and friends make me smile. He makes me smile. I even like that this latest issue was in Spanish. Well, there's some English, too. The sound-effects are, well, sound-effects, and the "Scarab-speak" is clearly alien. But the bulk of Blue Beetle #26 is definitely something I can't read.

So I open it up for the first time. Actually, my comic is opened the first time by the manager at my LCS, who is curious. I like it when that happens, since the majority of my comics-based conversation occurs online, and I don't even have much of that. So he opens the book, tries reading some of the dialog aloud. He's pretty clearly not fluent. His 'r's, which are difficult in Spanish, don't sound right, but hey. It's fun! I don't try reading aloud. The manager has had two years of high school Spanish to my one. (French was my language of choice in high school. Had four years. I'm not fluent in that, either, but it's easier to pronounce.)

Yes. I can't speak, read, or understand Spanish. The characters' voices don't come alive in my head. So, when I open the book for the second time, I am effectively linguistically immersed. And I have the comforting knowledge that the equivalent of a Spanish phrasebook is tucked in my figurative back pocket. With one hand marking that handy English script, I play. Sometimes I read a page of script first, and then read the Spanish page it corresponds to. Sometimes I read a few pages in succession, Spanish first, then go back and translate before rereading those same pages. That's how I read a good chunk of the battle scene between Blue Beetle and Parasite. I realize, in my reread, that I hadn't been lost the first time through. Clear imagery and cognates probably have something to do with that.

There are quite a few ways, I'd imagine, for a non-Spanish speaker to read Blue Beetle #26. I'm patient enough to read it as a "'Nuff Said" comic, but that could be done. Again, the imagery is clear, and the characters are plenty expressive.

It's also a relatively simple story. It has depth, of course, between the family relationships and Parasite's analysis of Jaime. The Scarab gets to cut loose for once. The fact that Jaime trusts it enough for that says a lot about how he has come into his own as the third Blue Beetle. But nuances aside, I don't think the plot would be hard to follow even without that phrase book. It's a hero versus villain fight, framed by a family gathering, after all.

Actually, now I'm kicking myself for not reading this without a crutch the first time through. Did anyone? If so, how did it work out for you?

At any rate, it's fine Blue Beetle, and the last page, which has no words and needs none, is one of the sweetest things ever. And while I wouldn't want to read Spanish comics every month, this is a great novelty.

Also, it is easier to understand than DC Universe: Zero. That's in English, but the depth immersion is more than I am ready for. Can anyone translate that comic for me?