Tag Archives: Comics & Graphic Novels – General

Rose

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Rose [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, a prequel to the Bone series.

Smith Bone Rose

This “prequel” to the Bone comics series is focused on a particular stratum of the layered story that Jeff Smith had composed in the original comic. It is entirely trained on the intrigue between the royal princesses Rose and Briar. There are no Bones from Boneville in this story, and the closest thing to comic relief is provided by Rose’s two dogs, with whom she has frequent conversations. But, especially at the end, these aren’t comic at all. 

Although far more intricate and poised than Smith’s drawings in the original series, Charles Vess’ art is wonderful and well suited to the subject matter. Smith’s characters are very recognizable, even in their decades-younger forms and in a far different style. The dragons are all appropriately awesome.

The lettering actually put me off a little. It is a sort of unical script with little highlights in each letter, which seemed too busy and distracting for my taste. The word balloons for the dogs (and for Rose addressing them in their ‘speech’) were blue instead of white, which was a very efficient convention for indicating linguistic difference.

On further reflection, it occurs to me that Rose follows a sort of rough Star Wars episode 3 plot trajectory with respect to the Bone series as episodes 4-6: think of Gran’ma Ben as Ben Kenobi and the Hooded One as Darth Vader. (But it’s something of a stretch to think of Fone Bone as Luke Skywalker!) The Lord of the Rings comparisons that seemed so obvious early in the original run of Bone have no place here.

Crown of Horns

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Crown of Horns [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, book 9 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Crown of Thorns

The final volume of the Bone series doesn’t have many surprises. All of the plots that were set up in the earlier numbers play out in a way that seems pretty inevitable, if not outright predictable. There are a few jokes, and lots of chasing and fighting. Comeuppances and rewards (including a hero’s burial) are distributed according to the characters’ merits established before.

I had been holding out for some exciting backstory on Ted the bug, but I was disappointed there. Maybe it’s in one of the prequel supplements: Rose or Stupid Stupid Rat Tails.

Treasure Hunters

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Treasure Hunters [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, book 8 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Treasure Hunters

Treasure Hunters is really only readable as a serial installment of Bone, but it is a pretty good one, centered on intrigue in the royal city of Atheia. It ends with a gargantuan cliffhanger.

Ghost Circles

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Ghost Circles [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher] by Jeff Smith, book 7 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone: Ghost Circles

I suppose it is a sign of Jeff Smith’s skill at developing his fictional world and its characters that I have read each volume of Bone in fewer sittings than the last, even though their length and complexity remains consistent. 

The end of the previous volume Old Man’s Cave made it seem as if the heroes had had a major victory, but Ghost Circles begins with almost overwhelming setbacks, and of all the Bone collections so far this one is easily the darkest in mood. Even a few scenes with the usually comical Ted the Bug are quite grave.

Old Man’s Cave

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Old Man’s Cave [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Jeff Smith, book 9 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Old Man's Cave

Old Man’s Cave moves the story of the Bone series along at a galloping pace. Although I don’t see it noted here, one of the earlier collections I read showed this series grouped into trilogies, and there does seem to be a significant multi-volume conclusion in this sixth book. By its end, there has been a resolution of much of the central conflict, but there is an intimation of more to come. 

Smith’s art continues to be effective, and his storytelling engaging. There are hardly any new characters introduced in this sequence, but there are some major revelations about the ones established earlier in the series. The reader learns by stages exactly who the evil Lord of Locusts is, and why he is interested in Phoney Bone, not to mention surprising revelations about the Hooded One.

Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Jeff Smith, volume 5 in the Bone series.

Smith Bone Rock Jaw Master of the Eastern Border

This volume of Bone is concerned with Phone and Smiley’s effort to return a stray rat creature cub to its kind. Many complications ensue, with opportunities to reveal more about the larger plot around events in the valley. There are no humans in this segment, but there is a lot of action, with multiple chases and a big fight or two. And Smith really lays on the cute, with the possum kids encountering various peers in the eastern mountains. On the whole, this collection is a fine installment in the continuing series.

The Dragonslayer

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: The Dragonslayer [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Jeff Smith, book 4 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone The Dragonslayer

Phoney Bone is the primary actor in this segment of the Bone story, although for all his scheming, he is out of his depth, as usual. It is unclear until the end of the volume, whether he is accidentally helping the heroes, or unwittingly harming them. Thorn advances toward maturity and purposefulness, and not a minute too soon. On the whole, this stretch is somewhat tense and plot-heavy.