Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Comic Review: Colder Toss The Bones #1

This was originally posted as a review for Word of the Nerd. Reposted here with slight modifications.
I have a bit of a mixed history with Dark Horse and their horror comics. Some of it is that not everything will be great, but horror is also not my favorite genre, so I'm a weird one to be reviewing them. On the whole, Dark Horse horror comics are good, so it's always worth a shot when a new one comes out. Add in that this is part of a longer series with a proven track record, and I had to give it a shot. Turns out, Colder Toss The Bones is a good comic and makes me want to read the next one.

Despite being a sequel, it's possible to jump in without knowing what was in the previous series. You are going to be missing a lot, but it's not the absolutely essential information. Nimble Jack, the main antagonist, is explained really well within this book, and I didn't feel like I was missing much.

Strangely, despite Declan being basically the protagonist, he doesn't do very much in this book. His story is not fleshed out all that much, but it's also not as necessary, since Nimble Jack takes up most of the screen time and knowing the basic outline, rather than all the details, is all we really need.

The main reason why the backstory from the previous series isn't needed is the great introductory sequence. It starts off with Nimble Jack harassing a man on a park bench, but it's not verbal or physical harassment. Instead, it's psychological, showing that Nimble Jack has the mannerisms of the Joker with the powers of a god to go with it. This scene sets up just how scary Nimble Jack is, which is only built up more in later encounters. It also starts his fascination with pigeons, taking them from a rather innocent animal to instrument of horror in just a couple comic panels.

Of course, horror comics are not effective just by the writing. Instead, it's the art that manages to sell just how scary things are. While there are monsters that are grotesque, the art is only really gory a single time, during a double beheading. Instead, it loves to focus on being unsettling or just a little bit off from what is expected. Whenever Declan is in the story, he's in a dark and drab area, making everything feel run down without being messy like a lot of horror trends towards. There's also a tendency for the backgrounds to be blurry or slightly out of focus, putting emphasis on the characters, especially their faces. This locks us in with them, not giving us anywhere else to look.

Most importantly, we have Nimble Jack and how he is drawn. While he tends to be drawn to look a little dark and dreary, he's often appearing in areas that are brighter, just making him stick out even more. Most unsettling, however, is the way that he moves and positions himself. He's always in a position a human body could never handle, bent some way that wouldn't work, or just defying gravity because he feels like it. Whenever he appears, he looks wrong, and that's exactly what he should be like, never feeling like he belongs.

The story ends on a slightly disappointing cliffhanger, but that's nowhere near as important as everything the comic does right. I come out of it looking forward to the next issue and where this story might go next.

If you'd like to see more, find this article and others like it at Word of the Nerd, and many thanks to them for allowing cross-posting.

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