Writer: Rich Douek
Illustrator: Alex Cormack
WHAT IS IT?
A brutal, '50s-era Russian Gulag tale that mixes terror and horror elements with natural and supernatural origins.
Road of Bones is Eastern Promises meets Nightwatch set in a snowy wasteland.
Or, looked at in another way, it's like a bizarre retelling of the Jews' exodus from Egypt. The men must leave a place where they were treated incredibly poorly and used as slave labor. Then, they must cross a great distance in order to be free. And now, in issue #3, we reach the point where our free men are hungry. But there will be no mana from Heaven in this comic...
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
(Spoilers for previous issues)
Roman escaped a Russian prison camp with two other men, Grigori and Sergei.
They have to cross miles of arctic tundra, but they've run out of food.
Grigori wants to kill Roman, and he's convinced Sergei to help.
Roman has other plans...
These bullets build on the other "What Works" bullets from the past reviews.
The tension from the previous issues comes to a head. If you've read t#1-2 and you see the cover image, you can probably figure how things are going to go in this one.
The way the issue opens, you know someone's dead. But you don't know who survived or didn't, beyond one of the men (and another, covered in blood and grinning monstrously). That vicious start is just enough to hook you before it jumps to the past to fill you in on how they got there.
As always, the pacing is perfect. Douek and Cormack have created an extremely tight story here, and they tell it with masterful precision. Even separating a single panel into two, dividing the men for dramatic timing or to show how each is alone in their personal hell, even though they're together, is a subtle, focused method of telling this story.
It's almost funny seeing how small the knives are that the men use. They almost look like pocket knives, but the murderous intent behind them and the blood they draw are a quick lesson in how real the damage they can do is.
The comic's palette has been mostly stark white up until this point, and seeing all this red is really, massively unsettling.
After the buildup of all the events leading up to it, the end of the issue feels
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
There's, ummm...there's a LOT of blood. And gore. And...well, this probably isn't the best comic for kids to read.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Road of Bones #3 gets the ball rolling toward the end of this 4-issue miniseries in a big (and bloody) way.
But this has always been inevitable, hasn't it? It's something you knew was going to have to happen, sooner or later.
Now, what comes next, in the final chapter of this story? That's anyone's guess. But I don't think you're going to want to miss it.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Wailing Blade by Rich Douek & Joe Mulvey
The Empty Man, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn & Vanesa R. Del Rey
Uber, Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen & Caanan White
If you like the art:
Road of Bones #1 by Rich Douek & Alex Cormack
Redlands, Vol. 1 by Jordie Bellaire & Vanesa R. Del Rey
Wytches by Scott Snyder & Jock
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Rich Douek – Writer
Multitalented: Is also an award-winning copywriter in the advertising industry (like Yours Truly, who is also an advertising copywriter and once won an award, but in his high school Theatre class)
On the Rise: Between Road of Bones and his other new title, Wailing Blade, I have a feeling Rich Douek has a very bright future writing comics
Alex Cormack – Artist
Often posts art on his Instagram
Multitalented: Also makes short films (according to his Wikipedia page)
Justin Birch – Letterer
New Face: Though he's only been lettering comics a short time, he's already been nominated for a Ringo Award and has worked for Action Lab, AndWorld Design, Broken Icon, IDW, Lion Forge & Source Point Press
His favorite part of the lettering process is figuring out the best placement for the balloons
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Road of Bones #3 hits shops THIS WEEK.
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