DC Comics acquired the Charlton heroes in the mid-1980s and used the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event to integrate them all into the DC Universe. During this period, Blue Beetle had his own series, written by Len Wein, which ran for 24 issues from June 1986 to May 1988. Also published during this time was Secret Origins #2 (cover illustrated by Gil Kane), which explained the origins and careers of the Ted Kord and Dan Garrett Blue Beetles in the post-Crisis continuity. They would also follow up on the hinted android in stasis from the Charlton series, which would eventually become "Carapax, the Indestructible Man".
Ted Kord was sometimes shown as an industrialist, the owner of KORD Industries; more often he was short on money, leading to his entering "get-rich-quick" schemes with Booster Gold. A brief appearance in JLA: Year One showed the young Ted working in Kord Industries R&D, where he designed the JLA HQ security system. Upon meeting the heroes, he thought, "Screw the family business. I want to be one of those guys," possibly explaining the company's fluctuating status since he took over. In recent comics, it has been implied that KORD Industries has become a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, headed by Bruce Wayne (also known as Batman).
Joining the Justice League
Blue Beetle is probably best known as the wisecracking member of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis' lighthearted, five-year run on various Justice League of America titles (notably Justice League International), where he was memorably partnered with fellow third-string hero Booster Gold, and the two quickly became best friends. Among fans, they were known collectively as the "Blue and Gold" team. For a while, Beetle grappled with a weight problem, but with sheer determination and coaching from the hero General Glory, as well as competing against Power Girl, he defeated it. After Giffen and DeMatteis left, Justice League America continued to run until issue #113. Dan Jurgens tied the "Death of Superman" storyline into JLA, in which Doomsday left Blue Beetle in a coma during his murderous rampage, as well as a six-inch scar on the back of his skull. Beetle and Booster both subsequently joined the short-lived Justice League offshoot known as Extreme Justice.
Blue Beetle then entered a period of relative obscurity. The miniseries The LAW (Living Assault Weapons) reunited Blue Beetle and the other heroes acquired from Charlton, but the series met with critical disfavor.
Super BuddiesIn July 2003, Giffen, DeMatteis, and original JLI artist Kevin Maguire reunited for the six-issue miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League, where many of the original JLI characters re-teamed with a storefront office. Beetle, who had grown in maturity, was an important member of this new team known as the "Super Buddies". A sequel story arc, I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League, was initially slated as a second miniseries, but instead ran, delayed, in JLA: Classified #4-9 (2005).
Ted made several appearances in Birds of Prey, at first as Oracle's internet friend and later in person. It was hinted in several issues that Ted had a crush on Oracle. Ted had gone back to his company, but still had many, many problems with it; problems Oracle tried to help resolve. During this time, it was revealed he had a heart condition (he had actually experienced multiple heart attacks while in action without noticing), but this did not stop him from assisting when it was needed. After his death, the Birds of Prey visited a statue in Valhalla Cemetery built in his honor. Black Canary revealed that being in the JLA was only fun when Blue Beetle was there. Oracle revealed that she had had a cyber crush on him.
DeathIn the 80-page special Countdown to Infinite Crisis, published on March 30, 2005, Blue Beetle discovers a revived Checkmate organization led by Maxwell Lord, former bankroller of the JLA, headquartered in a Belgian castle fortress, where Beetle is captured. Lord reveals to Blue Beetle that his intent is to use the organization to ensure that metahumans, including superheroes, will be kept under surveillance and controlled by humans. Lord then gives Beetle an ultimatum to join his organization. When Kord refuses with the reply, "Rot in hell, Max," Lord murders him with a bullet to the head.
That same story had earlier reiterated that Ted Kord had thought the scarab destroyed back in Blue Beetle vol. 6, #18 (1987); however, it had been rediscovered, untouched, in a temple in Egypt and handed over to Kord. It is unclear as to whether or not this is the same scarab created from a piece of future technology magically infused by Nabu the Wizard in the Time Masters miniseries featuring Rip Hunter. Shazam took the scarab upon encountering Kord, fueling speculation about the possibility of the character's return during DC's Infinite Crisis series. This possibility was dashed when it was asked at the Wizard World convention if Kord would ever return. Writer Greg Rucka stated, "There was a breeze blowing through his brain, and he was incinerated. How much clearer can it be?"
The death of Ted Kord precipitated the events of Infinite Crisis. Brother Eye was reorganized and the OMAC project restarted. Max Lord was revealed as a villain and took telepathic control of Superman, which led to Wonder Woman being forced to kill Lord. Captain Marvel had warned Ted about Lex Luthor, who supposedly straddled the worlds of magic and science. Events in Infinite Crisis #3 revealed this to be Alexander Luthor, Jr., in disguise. Booster Gold returned to the 25th century. He later returned to the present with Skeets to help find Brother Eye. The success of the mission put Booster back into the spotlight and set in motion the events of 52.
One Year Later
The young teenager Jaime Reyes later discovers the scarab and becomes the new Blue Beetle. J'onn J'onzz has a statue of Ted Kord in his memorial to fallen Justice League members. When recruiting members for the new Justice League, Superman suggests Booster Gold, and Batman responds, "There are better ways to honor Ted."
After Ted Kord's demise, Shockwave, the enforcer of the 1000, is sent to destroy buildings of interest to the still active KORD Industries. Even though Red Devil and Reyes stop him, the 1000 manage to take over KORD Industries due to the property value plummeting.
In Geoff Johns' 2007/2008 ongoing Booster Gold series, Booster agrees to help Rip Hunter set right the timeline, but at a cost: Rip must help Booster go back and save Ted. Rip Hunter, however, tries to shock Booster Gold into acknowledging his inability to change past "solidified" events, tricking him into witnessing Barbara Gordon's crippling assault over and over again. As Booster Gold prepares to accept his fate, a futuristic Blue Beetle appears with Dan Garrett and Jaime Reyes in tow to show him how to turn the time around Ted's death into "malleable time." Booster Gold betrays Rip Hunter and with the other Beetles' help, rescues Ted Kord from death at the hands of Maxwell Lord. The four Beetles escape together in time, the technology used to save Blue Beetle preserving the future events the way they were meant to unfold (thus enabling Jaime to keep his powers and his role as the "new" Beetle), with the world at large still believing Ted Kord to be deceased. The story arc "Blue and Gold" reveals that this act has altered the present, creating a timeline where Max and his OMACs have turned the world into a police state. The future Blue Beetle is also revealed to actually be Black Beetle, a supervillain allied with the Ultra-Humanite, Despero, Per Degaton, and Booster Gold's father (under the control of Mister Mind) as the Time Stealers, a time-traveling supervillain group. Facing the defeat of his former JLI teammates, the only free heroes in the new timeline, Ted Kord realizes that the only way to restore the timeline is to die the way he was supposed to. As Black Beetle tries to stop him, he grapples the villain and both of them are brought to the past in a Time Sphere. At the end of the issue, a shadowy figure enters an old KORD Industries storehouse, stocked with backup Blue Beetle equipment. The figure then laughs in Kord's distinct "BWA-HA-HA-HA!" style.
When a Black Power Ring reanimates Ted Kord's corpse as a Black Lantern, Black Lantern Blue Beetle is unable to locate Booster Gold due to his new time-travelling duties. He lures Booster into the open by targeting Supernova and Rose Levin, Booster's 21st century ancestry. He is able to successfully pierce the Supernova costume shields with a Black Lantern BB gun, and holds Supernova in place while beating Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) and staving off Skeets' attack until Booster Gold arrives. He then moves in for the kill, hoping to rip out Booster's heart.
He battles all of them, but is unsuccessful in killing anyone except a neighbor who complained about the noise from the fight. Jaime and Booster Gold remove Rose and Daniel from the scene and head to a KORD Industries warehouse where one of Ted Kord's hidden bases is located to collect special equipment to fight the Black Lantern. Booster Gold discovers that someone had accessed Ted Kord's hidden base a few months before his remains were reanimated. However, the only people, to Booster's knowledge, who have authorization to access it are Booster Gold and Kord himself. They then head back, where Ted's corpse battles Booster until he is attacked by a light blast from a gun designed by Ted Kord himself, tuned to simulate the emotional spectrum. Separated from the ring, Booster Gold seizes his remains before the ring can reanimate them, takes them into the Time Sphere, and deposits them in a small grave at Vanishing Point Fortress. After the "Blackest Night", they find evidence at the KORD Industries warehouse of somebody else entering the warehouse, even though the doors were genetically coded, with only two people cleared for access: Booster Gold and Ted Kord himself.
Maxwell Lord, the former head of Justice League International and the murderer of Ted Kord, is restored to life and uses a device to amplify his mind control powers to erase his existence from the minds of almost everyone on the planet.He also influences the superhero community into believing Ted committed suicide, which enrages Booster Gold, one of the few who could remember Max's existence and also the best friend of Ted. Later, Power Girl regains her memories of Max and exhumes Ted's corpse in order to have Dick Grayson examine it. Dick refuses, still unconvinced about the existence of Max; however, Bruce Wayne arrives to reveal that he remembers Max as well. Batman and Dick examine the body, which finally convinces Dick that Ted was indeed murdered.
During a battle between the Justice Society of America and Doctor Chaos in the city of Monument Point, Manhunter arrives with a team of heroes meant to help turn the tide in favor of the JSA. One of the new heroes introduced is a woman clad in a red version of Ted's Blue Beetle costume, and is shown swinging from what appears to be Ted's trademark Bug.
Powers and abilities
Ted Kord had no superpowers; however, he did possess a genius-level intellect, with an IQ of 192. He was proficient in numerous sciences such as chemistry, physics, engineering, aircraft, and solar tech, as well as an understanding of alien tech. Despero once claimed that Ted's mind was second only to that of J'onn J'onzz.Former Justice League teammate Guy Gardner claims that Ted was smarter than Batman, "although nobody ever noticed." Kord was an Olympic-level acrobat and skilled hand-to-hand combatant, having studied in the martial arts of karate and aikido Dick Grayson stated that Ted was very adept physically, to the point where he was almost ambidextrous. He is also highly skilled in espionage.
- Kord created numerous gadgets, including suction pads, sight-enhancing lenses, and a protective costume. To prevent being forcibly unmasked, especially if rendered unconscious, Kord's cowl had a lock mechanism that only opened when he touched the mask under his jaw with a chip in his glove, which would at least force an enemy to perform the more troublesome task of cutting through the material to unmask him.
- He also created a power armor suit for his friend Booster Gold. The suit contained a fully functioning artificial arm and also provided life-support for Booster as he recovered from potentially fatal injuries. He later converted a suit of alien power armor for Booster to use.
- His BB gun was a handheld weapon that could blind villains with a flash of light, or knock them back with a compressed air blast capable of felling a charging rhino. The original BB gun was designed with a security feature so that it would function only when the Blue Beetle held it, becoming inactive without contact with special circuitry in the Beetle costume's gloves. It was shown during the Eclipso annuals that it was solar powered.
- Blue Beetle's airship, the "Bug", contained high tech equipment, could electrify or magnetize its hull, fire electrical energy, and fly at 600 mph. All models had booster jets hidden under the shell of the Bug. The boosters on the first two models could speed the Bug up to the speed of sound for a short period of time; no time limit was ever given for how long the burst lasted. Later models of the boosters were used for intercontinental travel at supersonic speed. It was also 90% solar powered. Later models also had energy weapons of various types, from lasers to plasma. The last two models were capable of reaching orbit and all models could operate underwater. No depth was ever given that they could go to, but one model Bug was seen operating on the sea floor after going through an underwater volcano. All models were remotely controllable from controls built into Kord's gloves.
- He also built flight pads similar to Mister Miracle's flight discs, and claimed to Barbara Gordon that he could keep the Birds of Prey jet flying 24-7 with technology based on the New Gods' Mother Box.
- As a Black Lantern, Blue Beetle is equipped with a "decayed", damaged version of the Bug, and a black power ring-derived construct of his Blue Beetle suit and his BB gun. This iteration of the BB gun is an aggressive, rather than a defensive, weapon, able to pierce the powerful shields in the Supernova suit.
- Though Ted Kord usually goes by Theodore, Barbara Gordon revealed in Birds of Prey that Ted's real name is Edward, used in a similar manner to Ted Kennedy.
In other media
- The Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, in the episode "Fall of the Blue Beetle!", Kord appears in flashbacks working together with Batman. When he is unable to get the scarab to work, he lends it to his insane scientist uncle Dr. Jarvis Kord to activate it. However, Jarvis planned to use it to power Blue Beetle robots to take over Hub City, and Ted recruits Batman to help get it back. When Jarvis activates a rocket to send the robots to different parts of Hub City, Ted enters the rocket before it blasts off and blows it up, stopping the robot invasion, but he is killed in the process. After Ted's death, Jarvis takes his identity to trick the new Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) into helping him while he was on Science Island.
The episode "Menace of the Madniks!" sees Booster Gold (who has been missing Ted since his death) travel back in time to help Ted defeat his old foes the "Madniks" (who resemble the "Madmen" of the original series and had been renamed the Madniks). Though the mission appears successful, when Booster returns to the present he finds Hub City in ruins and Batman battling terrifying evolved forms of the Madniks. Batman and Booster together return to the mission and, with Ted's help, manage to revert the Madniks to their original forms. Batman and Booster say a final goodbye to Ted, immediately before the Batman of Ted's own time arrives to enlist him for what will be his final mission.