DC Histories: Ted Kord (Blue Beetle II)

Welcome back to another DC History. In the wake of the New 52, we’re looking at the history of some of the people and groups being reintroduced to the DC Universe. Only by looking back at what came before can we understand where we’re going.

He may not be in the New 52, but today we’re taking a look at everyone’s favorite dead Blue Beetle, Ted Kord!

Blue Beetle (Vol. 7) In-House Ad (1986)

Blue Beetle had a fairly long publishing history before DC ever began telling his stories. Created by Steve Ditko in 1966, Ted Kord was originally a Charlton Comics character. Alongside characters like Captain Atom, Nightshade, and the Question, Ted was brought over to the DCU after Charlton sold the characters to them in 1983 when the company fell on hard times. DC sat on these characters for a few years, waiting for just the right opportunity to bring them into their universe of stories. They found that opportunity in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. It was here at these characters showed up on their own Earth, which would become integrated into the regular DCU canon at the end of the event.

From Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (1985)

Ted Kord was a genius. His ability to create technological marvels was second-to-none and his college professor, Dan Garrett, saw great potential in him. Ted wasn’t the only member of his family adept with machines. His father had created Kord Industries, which was an industry leader in manufacturing. Unfortunately, Ted’s uncle was a little less interested in capitalism. Uncle Jarvis used Ted to help him create a series of invincible robots, which would do whatever Jarvis said. Ted, realizing he’d made a mistake in helping his uncle, convinced Dan Garrett to help him make up for this mistake. Dan was secretly the original Blue Beetle, so asking him to help turned out to be a great call on Ted’s part.

From Blue Beetle (Vol. 7) #1 (1986)

Jarvis was waiting for them. After Dan and Ted were brought to Jarvis’ mountainous headquarters, Dan activated the Blue Beetle scarab that he’d found during an Egyptian excavation. It gave him enhanced strength, tough skin, and let him shoot energy from his eyes. Dan was able to stand toe-to-toe with the robots. In a final push to defeat Blue Beetle, Jarvis brought an entire mountain down, killing himself, Dan, and destroying everything in the lab. Just before everything was destroyed, Dan asked Ted to carry on the Blue Beetle legacy. Ted agreed and managed to escape before the end. He returned to Chicago where he was consumed by guilt at the death of his mentor.

From Secret Origins (Vol. 3) #2 (1986)

Since Ted didn’t have any powers himself, he had to turn to his own two hands in order to be a hero. He trained, spending hours in the gym focusing on both strength and agility. He spent even longer hours in his workshop, creating his gadgets like the flying Bug and the strobe-light gun, which could confuse opponents with a burst of light. Ted would later augment the gun to allow it to fire a burst of wind, potentially knocking enemies over. He also made himself a modified Blue Beetle outfit and took to the streets.

Shortly after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Ted gained his own solo series. There he fought villains like Firefist, Doctor Alchemy, and even a group of villains from his Charlton days named the Madmen. But it was the miniseries Legends that launched Ted on his way towards being the known figure he is to this day.

From Legends #4 (1987)

During the Legends series, all of America’s heroes were outlawed. Those that remained in action were defying presidential orders. Blue Beetle was one of those heroes. At the end of the miniseries, most of the heroes who had ignored the newly rescinded order became the latest incarnation of the Justice League. Ted joined their ranks, instantly gaining a notoriety he’d never known before. Eventually, the group got a United Nations charter and took the name Justice League International, under the guidance of businessman Maxwell Lord. Ted had officially become a big freaking deal.

From Justice League International (Vol. 1) #7 (1987)

Around the time he was hitting big with the League, Ted’s solo book was canceled. One of the many plots running through his book had been how he was handling Kord Industries, the company created by his father and given to him. In his series’ final issue, the Kord Industries’ main building was destroyed in a battle. Ted was left bankrupt, unable to find the capital to rebuild his business. He handed the company back to his estranged father and went into superheroing full time.

From Blue Beetle (Vol. 7) #24 (1988)

It was in the League that Ted would find his best friend and the person to whom he would be tied to for the rest of his life: Booster Gold. The pair, who would gain the nickname Blue and Gold, were a great team. They paled around together, defeated criminals together, and could be called on in a pinch. Ted and Booster had something else in common. They’d both lost multi-million dollar fortunes. So, when ideas came up that could net them massive paydays, they tended to take them. Such was the case with ‘Club JLI.’

Club JLI was a resort on the island of Kooey Kooey Kooey. There, Ted and Booster planed on running a Justice League themed casino. It worked fine for a few days until the Injustice League showed up and used their powers to rob the casino blind. Then it came to everyone attention that the island was alive and didn’t really like having a bunch of people living on it. Things went downhill from there and left the pair to sheepishly return to Maxwell Lord, hat in hand.

From Justice League America #35 (1990)

It also gave future readers a moment of dramatic irony.

This jokey era Justice League wound down a few years later. That was when things started going poorly for Ted. When Doomsday made his first attack on Earth, Ted and the rest of the JLA took the fight to him. Ted got too close to the rampaging monster and Doomsday, who was using only one hand, put him into a coma.

From Justice League America #69 (1992)

Ted came out of his coma shortly thereafter but he was a bit more hard-edged. It was the mid-90s after all. There wasn’t a whole lot of time for jokes and frivolity. After a major status quo shake-up that affected every incarnation of the League, Ted left the JLA and became a member of Extreme Justice, Captain Atom’s League off-shoot. There, Ted claimed that he wouldn’t just be a button-pusher or a behind-the-scenes guy on the team. He wanted to be a full member and make a real difference in people’s lives.

From Extreme Justice #1 (1995)

Sadly, he mostly was just a button-pusher in that series.

When Extreme Justice ended, Ted disappeared along with many of the other second-tier Leaguers. The Big Seven were back in Grant Morrison’s JLA and nearly everyone else was left by the wayside.

Nearly a decade later, most of the original JLI team would get back together for a mostly comedic miniseries titled Formerly Known as the Justice League. In this story and its sequel, Ted and Booster reverted to extreme versions of their old shelves, mostly just doing vaudeville routines. Seek these stories out if you’ve never read them. They are a blast.

From JLA Classified #4 (2005)

The same year that this second revival story of the JLI came out, Ted died. While investigating the disappearance of money from the rebuilt Kord Industries, Ted discovered that Maxwell Lord, his boss, was behind the scheme. Max had gotten in with the clandestine organization known as Checkmate. He planned on using his power there to wipe super beings off the face of the Earth. After being turned down by every contact he had in the League, and after Booster was put in the hospital while helping on the case, Ted went it alone. He was promptly tied up and shot in the head.

From Countdown to Infinite Crisis (2005)

Turns out 1990 Ted Kord was incorrect. Max would aim for the head.

When the Infinite Crisis was all said and done, Dan Garrett’s old Blue Beetle scarab was found by a teenager named Jaime Reyes who would go on to become the third hero calling himself Blue Beetle. Max would eventually pay for his crimes when Wonder Woman killed him, though he would be brought back to life at the end of Blackest Night. Ted wouldn’t be so lucky.

It was during Blackest Night that Booster would finally forgive himself for Ted’s death. Though he couldn’t really blame himself as he’d be out of commission when Ted died, Booster still felt responsible. After fighting a reanimated Black Lantern Ted Kord, Booster was able to travel to Vanishing Point, a spot at the end of time where one can look back at history. There, he and Jamie spent some time remembering Ted.

From Booster Gold (Vol. 2) #27 (2010)

Perhaps the most shocking thing about Ted’s death is that it’s been nearly seven years since it happened and Ted hasn’t come back yet. It’s almost unprecedented. Heroes die all the time, but they’re mostly brought back in a year or two. Not so for poor Ted.

So where is Ted in the New 52? Well, he may still be dead or he may never have existed. Jaime may be the only Blue Beetle to have ever lived in this new universe. If that’s the case, I’ll be disappointed. However, this is mainstream comics we’re talking about, so all I have to do is wait for the current crop of creators and editors to step away from the books and someone who’s a big fan of Ted Kord will bring him back. It’s happened before. It’ll happen again.


Jeff Reid really, really digs Ted Kord’s design. Steve Ditko really knew what he was doing with that one. Help Jeff continue to eulogize Ted on Twitter.


  1. “Oh, come on, Booster–Max’d never do THAT.”


  2. Didn’t Beetle make some appearances in Birds of Prey, post Justice League?

    Something of note from his solo series: The first appearance of the Calculator, who went on to become the Oracle of the villain world. He was…different. At least, I assume it’s supposed to be the same guy. He wore a big calculator on his chest and ordered around a gang of goons. I imagine after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ted he went into the information business.

  3. Wow, seven years? Yikes. I do indeed miss Ted Kord. I really Like Booster Gold, and Blue Beetle comes with that package. I really wish DC had brought back Ted with the relaunch. (Ralph Dibney too, but that’s an article for another day) I think OMAC would be a great book to bring him back with, that, or JLI.

  4. Ted is probably my favorite DC character. The shame of it is, I only discovered who he was after his death. I am pretty sure that DC will bring him back at some point. Dan Didio knows that fans want to see him again (because he told me so at C2E2). I think they are just waiting for the right opportunity (though the end of Blackest Night would have been a good time.)

    DC seems to be hinting at the fact that new parallel earths will be introduced into the Nu52 at some point. I wonder if the Charlton characters will get their own Earth again and when they do Ted will be sitting there, waiting to meet Booster.

    • “Dan Didio knows that fans want to see him again ”

      Not to sounded jaded or whatever, but this means absolutely nothing. Editors and various Higher-Ups wills always say “We know what the fans want” or something similar to placate passionate fans.

  5. I also miss Ted. His interactions with Booster are classic. He also appeared in the Booster Gold series after 52, where Booster pulled him out of time moments before his death for some additional adventures. Great stuff. Ted was a stand-up guy, too. Hope they bring him back someday.

    • Also in the Giffen issues of Booster Gold, there was a JLI team up arc that was an absolute blast. Definitely a ton of fun if you enjoy the Blue and the Gold.

  6. You completely left out his great turn in the supporting cast of Birds of Prey. He really distanced himself from the joke of a character that he’d become. It was the growth of the character in that series that made his death hit so hard.