Time to explain something about my tastes… I’ve always had a huge soft spot for Marvel’s seeming army of second- and third-rate super-villains. MODOK, Mysterio, The Porcupine, StiltMan, Sandman, and the Frightful Four: I fully realize how ridiculous many of them are, but what can I say? I love them all.
To me, THE BEETLE has always been one of the coolest looking of the B-list villains. Despite having the standard issue Green and Purple color scheme of the day, The Beetle stood out with his spooky looking bug-eyed helmet, spotted wings, and his freakish suction cup tipped googly-fingers. When I was a kid, I mostly read Spider-Man, and the first time I saw the Beetle Drawn by Ditko...it kinda weirded me out!
In classic comic-book-disgruntled-scientist tradition, Abner Jenkins started off with a chip on his shoulder. Probably tired of "Dogpatch" jokes and denied a promotion, he skulked off with his prototype Beetle armor, and embarked on a career in crime. He was perhaps a bit overconfident initially:
Let me say it: That would only happen in the MOST AWESOME HISTORY CLASS EVER.
He went on to become a punching bag for the entire Marvel Universe in general, and Spidey in particular. In the mid-80s, he upgraded his armor to a sleek new John Byrne Model, but it did little to help his career. Finally fed up with years of failure, he jumped at Baron Zemo’s offer to join the Thunderbolts. Today, as M.A.C.H. IV, Abe Jenkins has followed a long difficult path to redemption.
Apparently, for Thunderbolts #104 someone actually reached into my brain, and pulled out a single comic tailor made just for me. A comic marred only by the lack of MODOK. (But then, what non-MODOK comic isn’t?) It has, more-or-less in order: The Thunderbolts, The U-Foes, The Porcupine (welcome back, old haystack), The Eel, The Mongoose, The Ox, Cobra, The Unicorn, Quicksand. And best of All…
THE BEETLE BRIGADE. Not one, not two, but THREE Beetles, led by M.A.C.H. IV. The third and largest Beetle armor was introduced a few years ago in Thunderbolts #48.
While nobody in the story actually calls them THE BEETLE BRIGADE, that's certainly what they should be called.
Immediately and without a doubt: Again With the Comics APPROVED.