Back in 1992, Marvel launched this odd little book called Spider-Man 2099 which developed its own, lasting cult following. Playing off of Blade Runner and cyberpunk concepts, the book introduced us to a man on the run who leaped his way through a futuristic city while on the run from hi-tech cops and corporate overlords.
And yeah, the book got conceptually silly over time. Marvel has a bad habit of recycling itself, and the 2099 universe kept replaying existing concepts: Hulk 2099, X-Men 2099, Punisher 2099–it’s no wonder the line collapsed. It has its beloved place in fandom, but still: corporate clutter took the book and the line to some weird places that kept it from exploring bigger concepts.
Anyway, Bonehead from Image Comics recaptures some of that futuristic cyberpunk flavor. Intentional or not, the titular character leaps and bounds through a futuristic wonderland while dodging cops and street gangs. It’s not exactly Spider-Man 2099 redux–this is an original story–but the similarities are noticeable, even if the hero isn’t a wall-crawler. Instead, he’s some kind of parkour artisan who’s taking on physical challenges despite a police state trying to restrict it.
Now, the good news is that Marcellius’ artwork is pretty dang good for the subject matter. In addition to a crisp, clean art style that’s welcome in the capes-and-tights medium, he’s got a great sense of perspective and layout that works well on this kind of story. The technological wonderland of Bonehead‘s world really comes to larger-than-life on each page, and there’s a strong dynamism captured in the character’s leap from scene to scene.
The downside so far is that in this first issue, the story hasn’t gone too far into exactly what Bonehead is all about. The solicitations market this as being about an illegal thrillseeker adventure, but that doesn’t quite come out in the story. The titular character (and really, a “Bonehead” is a gang name, not the name of the hero) is unspeaking, and we’re left to guess his motivations and project ourselves onto the person under the mask. Spider-Man 2099 did a tremendous amount of worldbuilding in its first issue; Bonehead, being a part of the modern, longform method of storytelling, doesn’t give us the full roadmap yet. Maybe the first arc, on completion, will give readers a better understanding of the story, but for now, we’re left to ask: why am I here? There’s intrigue, but no hook yet.
Still, that art. This is a curious sell in a crowded marketplace, but I’ll say that the intrigue is there. Bonehead might be worth trying a few issues to see where it goes.
Rating: Three and a half leaps out of five.