Jaime Reyes is the third Blue Beetle, obtaining powerful alien armor after finding the blue scarab. With all that power, however, he was hardly ever taken seriously and was considered a weaker sidekick – an apprentice for the real Justice League, and his mentor – the former Blue Beetle, Ted Kord.
Well, all that would change when Jaime reached his full potential and became the most powerful Blue Beetle ever – but, for the wrong side. He was infected by The Batman Who Laughs to become the Blue Beetle Who Laughs, aka Scarab, and was powerful enough to take down Batman and Superman together. Here’s the full story of the Blue Beetle Who Laughs.
Infecting the Secret Six
It all began as a sinister plan of The Batman Who Laughs, an evil version of Bruce Wayne from Earth -22, a part of the Dark Multiverse. He was captured and locked up inside a deep dungeon underneath the Hall of Justice.
But before he was captured, The Batman Who Laughs coated some Batarangs with the same toxin that the Joker in his universe used to infect him and make him The Batman Who Laughs.
The plan was to infect six powerful superheroes with the Batarangs, make them his minions, and then use their energies to collide the universe with the Dark Multiverse, and eventually destroy all life within the Multiverse. The Batman Who Laughs came very close to achieving just that, but we’ll focus on the infected Blue Beetle.
The initial plan was to infect Jaime Reyes, Donna Troy, Shazam, Hawkman, James Gordon (the Commissioner), and Superman. The Batman Who Laughs successfully managed to infect all but Superman – instead, when the infected Batarang was flying towards him, Supergirl caught it mid-air, and the toxin infected her.
It was all the same for Laughs, though, as he now had everything he needs to open a portal into the Dark Multiverse. While Batman, Superman, and other uninfected heroes tried to defeat and save the Secret Six, The Batman Who Laughs broke out of his prison.
Now, we know the Blue Beetle got infected at some point and helped open the portal, but how, and when did it happen?
Infecting the Blue Beetle
Almost every infected member of the Secret Six got several issues during DC’s Year of the Villain that showed how they got infected, and how it affected them. For Jaime Reyes, it was a one-shot issue called The Infected: Scarab #1.
We see the Blue Beetle beaten half to death, feeling a boot on his back. It’s The Batman Who Laughs, and Jaime begs Laughs not to kill him. He gets what he asked for, as The Batman Who Laughs stabs an infected Batarang into his neck. Moments later, Jaime wakes up in his bed, thinking it was all just a nightmare.
He’ll soon learn that it wasn’t, as he hears a voice inside his head, and feels a presence within his body. As Jaime leaves his house, he realizes that the school bus already left. Despite trying to keep his identity a secret for so long, he now decides to just fly to school, to the shock of his friends, Paco and Brenda.
Jaime doesn’t seem to care and tells them he thinks he deserves a day off for all the lives he saved. Meanwhile, he secretly incapacitated his mentor, Ted Kord, with a strange, dark goo that he could now produce, as a result of the infected scarab embedded into his spine. Jaime then steals the Blue Beetle ship and takes Brenda and Paco on a joyride.
By now, Jaime Reyes didn’t even realize the infection was getting to him, changing his behavior, making him more reckless, aggressive, and temperament. However, Brenda and Paco already felt something was off. And, it wouldn’t take long for them to see just how off things are.
On their joyride, they see Ghostfire – one of Jaime’s Blue Beetle’s first villains – trying to get back his impounded car from a car dealership. Jaime gets into a fight with Ghostfire, but this time, he goes absolutely berserk.
Blue Beetle pummels Ghostfire to the brink of death, as The Batman Who Laughs’ voice in his head urges Jaime to go for the kill. Ghostfire screams that he gives up, but Jaime doesn’t care and goes even harder. Ghostfire focuses his fire blast on Jaime, who is in agonizing pain.
But then, the voice tells him – yes, it hurts, but it can’t kill you; nothing can! At that moment, the Blue Beetle fights through the flames, his jaw completely unhinges, and he starts biting into Ghostfire, wanting to eat his head. Paco and Brenda scream ‘NO!’, and Jaime gets a hold of himself for a second, spitting Ghostfire out, along with the hideous dark ooze.
He runs away, knowing that what he was doing is wrong, trying to fight the animalistic urges he was getting. Jaime realizes the suit started to itch as he tears it off, to which the voice tells him – metamorphosis. Blue Beetle started changing into a real, evil bug – hence the black ooze, and such raw, unhinged power that he never felt before.
Yes, Jaime became the most powerful version of the Blue Beetle ever, but for the wrong side… If you want a more graphic representation of the issue, there’s an awesome video on YouTube made by the account called Comicstorian, which you can watch below.
The Trojan Horse
In Batman/Superman #3, the two heroes try to get to the bottom of the situation and find out why The Batman Who Laughs is doing what he was doing, and what his plans for the infected heroes are. In an attempt to lure out answers, they infect Supes with the toxin to make it look like he was going unhinged.
Then, Superman goes and seemingly sets Laughs free from his prison at the Hall of Justice, asking what the real purpose of the infected was. The Batman Who Laughs answers – killing all life within the Multiverse – but he knows the entire thing is just a ploy.
Then, the holographs shut down, and Laughs realizes they never set him free – he was still in his cell, and Supes got an antidote from Batman.
The two already fought King Shazam – the infected version of Shazam – and barely survived. But now, their fight against the infected Commissioner Gordon might prove even deadlier. As they fight, Gordon gets out his Superheavy Batman suit to match them in strength.
It was in vain, of course, as Superman easily beats the robotic suit while Batman apprehends Gordon. They decide to take the suit, and Gordon to the Fortress of Solitude – the only place on the planet that The Batman Who Laughs doesn’t know where it is, and can’t get to them.
All of a sudden, the Superheavy suit they brought starts moving – tiny nanobots start merging into one – revealing what the real purpose of Commissioner Gordon was. He was never supposed to beat Batman and Superman; the suit was nothing but a Trojan Horse to get Scarab – the Blue Beetle Who Laughs – into the Fortress of Solitude.
With his newfound powers, the Blue Beetle Who Laughs hacked into all of the supercomputers at the disposal of the Justice League – the Fortress of Solitude, the Batcave, Superman’s Kelex robot, and even the Hall of Justice, releasing The Batman Who Laughs from his prison. Before they could even put up a fight, the Scarab’s technology incapacitated them.
Now completely transformed and unhinged, Jaime tells Batman and Superman how he was never appreciated enough, but now has reached his full potential. He uses the nanotech and the black ooze he could now excrete to completely incarcerate the Justice League’s two mightiest heroes.
Stopping the infection
With Laughs released, and all the heroes he needed for his plan infected, Blue Beetle Who Laughs opened the portal to the Dark Multiverse, and it started colliding with this universe, setting The Batman Who Laughs’ plan in motion.
In the end, it wasn’t the Justice League who stopped the Secret Six and prevented the destruction of all life in the Multiverse – it was Lex Luthor. Long story short, in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4, he fought Laughs and was able to use a blade containing the antidote for the infection to free all the infected Superheroes from their ill fate.
What ensued, however, was much worse than they could imagine, as the events that took place later led to the birth of The Darkest Knight – the merger between The Batman Who Laughs, and the powers of Doctor Manhattan, making him almost an unstoppable force, and one of the most powerful creatures in the multiverse, made out of pure darkness.
But, that’s a story for another day.