If DC had led with the story in "Blue Beetle" #10, or at least carried such a tale closer to the beginning of the series, Jaime Reyes wouldn't be among those characters on the cancellation chopping block every time the wind changes direction. This is the strongest issue of the series, both in showing what Jaime Reyes is all about and in drawing connections between the Blue Beetle and the greater DC Universe.
While Director Bones has made appearances elsewhere in this "New" DC Universe, his appearance here, magnificently rendered by Ig Guara and inker J.P. Mayer with colors by Pete Pantazis, is iconic and definitive. Puffing away on his cigars, the skeletal badass plays both good cop and bad cop, alternating between offering Jaime a place with the D.E.O. and trying to drill into the exoskeleton to decipher Beetle's "invasion plans" while the cigar smoke wafts around Bones' transparent trachea and mouth. The imagery is disgustingly beautiful and a magnificent study of the character. On occasion, it appears that Guara or Pantazis might be forgetting that Bones isn't just a skeleton but rather is covered in transparent flesh. Those moments are fleeting, and the artistic team more than makes up for it in the scenes detailing Jaime's capture thanks to a Boson pulse weapon.
I'm thrilled to see Guara back on this title as he has visually helped shape Blue Beetle for this relaunch almost as much as Cully Hamner did in the "One Year Later" initiative so many years back. Marcio Takara did a fine enough job filling in, but Guara has been crafting a virtual style guide for this series. After a few issues in the "Teen Titans" corner of the DCU, Guara offers a solid reminder that his talents are best utilized on this title.
Tony Bedard's treatment of Reyes and his family continues to be believable and entertaining, sprinkled with, as Bones refers to it, "Mexican slang." I'm not keen to characters' word balloons filled with one language and defaulting to English as though being processed through a translator mid-speech, but I can understand Bedard preferring not to force readers to rely on some sort of augmented reality by reiterating the meanings.
Bedard sets up a significant connection between the D.E.O. and Blue Beetle, he also drops in references to the Khund, Green Lantern, Batwoman, Hawkman, Firestorm, Static and a surprise appearance by a member of the Justice League International. Beetle might not be a member of any organization within the DCU and he's still trying to find a compromise with the Reach scarab, but Bedard has established some connections certain to be mined as this series progresses.
After some issues meandering around New York, bemoaning his circumstances, Blue Beetle might finally be finding a direction. If any of the pieces put on the table in this issue continue to be used, this series will soon be discussed as "most improved" title from last year's relaunch. "Blue Beetle" is finally carving out some space in the DC Universe, now it just needs to capitalize on that space and continue to churn out satisfying and entertaining summer reads like "Blue Beetle" #10.