How do you get me to buy a book I haven't been reading? Put Motherfuckin' Mr. Bones on the cover. Instant sale.
I checked in for the first couple issues of Blue Beetle, but it didn't much grab me. Perhaps I was still smarting over the loss of Ted Kord, or maybe I was just inundated with New 52 stuff and had to make my cuts where I could to keep the ol' budget manageable. But browsing the shelves this week led me to Blue Beetle #10, with that invisible-fleshed government bastard Mr. Bones in all his glory as the selling point, and it was an immediate get. I don't know what it is about this guy that's so awesome, but the fact that he's a skeleton in a suit who smokes cigars all the time is a pretty big part of it. What's not cool about that?
You might say it's the fact that he's a hardline federal department head who is not afraid to be a complete asshole to further his goals – like every government heavy you've ever seen. In this issue, he's doing the standard 'capture the weird guy and run painful torture tests on him to see what his deal is' to Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle, even though the kid voluntarily came to Bones' Department of Extranormal Operations looking for help. Of course, Bones assumes he's an alien planning an invasion (and The Reach, from which the Blue Beetle armor comes, is fairly notorious), and Reyes does nothing to dispel that notion, as apparently Kyle Rayner has told him to make sure to safeguard his secret identity. Revealing it to the feds would be a big no-no.
The bulk of the issue is Bones being Bones, and that's what makes me love it. He's a guy who seems to want to do good if you push him, but we haven't seen that yet – he's the guy doing the pushing. At the end, when Beetle escapes, there's a little pushback, and a missed opportunity when Bones realizes he botched the play, and could've had the kid on the payroll if he hadn't led with the torture-the-alien-threat thing. We also haven't ever seen what his power set is in the New 52, but he always used to have a cyanide poison-death touch. However, the fact that his secretary apparently wears a breathing unit and a cellophane suit could either be a joke about how much he smokes OR an indication that the poison thing is more of an aura. Not that it had any effect on Kate Kane or Cameron Chase over in Batwoman, but who knows?
The art from Ig Guara is first rate, too. Even though Reyes is all covered with alien armor, his eyes are still the most human thing in the book, and you can feel everything he's feeling. And Bones is still super cool-looking with the constant billowing smoke with the sharp black suit and red shirt and gloves. He's just so damn slick-looking. One would never guess he was raised in a weird little hovel with an oddball group of isolated metahumans and that he used to be a rhyming bad guy. Then again, we have no idea what his past is these days, and whether or not Helix ever existed.
If Tony Bedard is going to have Bones as a recurring character, then Blue Beetle will make its way back to my pull list. The fact that Booster Gold appears at the end, possibly to establish a new Booster/Beetle partnership like what he used to have in the Old More-Than-52 with Kord, is a hint that maybe it'll find a way to tide me over until Bones' next appearance, too. I'd rather read Bones' own title, but that's not happening, so I'll be fine with this. I do have to say that the revelation that there's apparently a TMZ for the superhero set is a horrible and smart idea at the same time. Because of course there would be, even if we hate it for smearing people we like.