The Japanese Beetle, alias Ken Watanabe, is the bravest, boldest hero in Skyline City, the last line of defense against rampaging supervillains, terrorists, and mind-controlled Girl Scouts...
...At least that's what he'd like you to think (especially if you're a beautiful woman). In truth, Ken is actually selfish, greedy, chauvinistic, and has the attention span of an over-caffeinated moth. Fortunately, the villains he fights are just as dysfunctional as he is, as are all the other superheroes. So in the end, he comes out looking pretty good by comparison.
Created by Dave White in 1994 for his college newspaper, The Japanese Beetle is an Affectionate Parody of the superhero genre, playfully poking fun at both Comic Book Tropes and outright skewering specific storylines, like Frank Miller's seminal Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The series exists in several incarnations, but as of 2005 stopped updating, and seems to have been forgotten.
Tropes used by this series include:
- Aborted Arc: In late 2001, a clone of Kremlina was introduced to set up a story arc where the American government was the villain. Then 9/11 happened, and White dropped the arc because it felt inappropriate. This is actually represented in-story by having a debate between Clone Kremlina and Ken interrupted by the attack on the World Trade Center, after which the original story was dropped and the clone vanishes without a trace.
- The Ace: Max Factor
- Affectionate Parody
- Animal Wrongs Group: The Militia for Ethical Animal Treatment, who throw "bricks of love" at those who harm animals.
- Author Avatar: The Cartoonist, an obvious avatar for creator Dave White, as well as a Parody Sue.
- Badass Normal: Subverted. With only a jetpack and a laser pistol, Ken would qualify as one...if only he were badass.
- Bat Signal: Parodied.
- Butt-Monkey: The Jaywalker, who later on attempts a Who's Laughing Now?.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": The "B" is for Beetle, of course.
- Calling Your Attacks: Parodied when Ken and the Flying Squirrel attempt a team attack and just end up smashing head-first into one another..
- Casanova Wannabe: Ken
- Civvie Spandex: Ken's costume consists of a baseball jersey, jeans, and sneakers.
- Comic-Book Time: Averted
- Dating Catwoman: Kremlina
- Dirty Communists: Kremlina Stalinova (initially) and later the Mao Tse-Dong Thought Control Team.
- Girls Behind Bars: The subplot where Kremlina goes to prison.
- Goggles Do Nothing
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: One-shot villain The Enabler, a hitman who uses his powers of Sizeshifting and Telepathy to pose as someone's Shoulder Devil and drive them to destruction.
- Heel–Face Turn: Kremlina. Also the Flying Squirrel in the 1994 incarnation.
- Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life
- Kavorka Man: The Cartoonist, as part of his general parody.
- '90s Anti-Hero: Parodied during Ken's bizarre journey in the 2003 series
- Orphaned Series
- President Evil: Hypnotron
- Real Life Writes the Plot: White was planning a storyline where the U.S. government was the main villain. Then came 9/11...
- Rogues Gallery: The Flying Squirrel, El-Vis, The Frenchman, Multifacet, Hypnotron, The Jaywalker, and many more.
- Shout-Out: Oh so many.
- Straw Feminist: The New Order of Women, an Affectionate Parody of the New World Order
- Villain Team-Up: The villains, lead by Ken in disguise, teamed up to battle Hypnotron, only to turn on Ken once the main threat is defeated.
- Ultimate Universe: By the creator's admission, the 2003 reboot was an attempt at this.
- Word of God: The 2003 reboot has a sequence where Ken engages in a discussion about his very existence with a disembodied voice; on the forums, White admitted that the entire sequence was based on his own confusion on what to do with the series, with the voice representing himself.