Story – Rich Douek
Art – Alex Cormack
Letters – Justin Birch
Where oh where does salvation come from? In the Gulag you’d likely be thinking that it would be from escaping the hell hole. One part imprisonment and one hundred parts hell, there’s really not much that would make its confines seem like the better option. Road of Bones #3 manages to find something that actually does make it seem like the insides of the barbed wire torment machine would be the better choice.
What the first two issues of this book did extremely well was build the tension and uneasiness that resides in both the extremely small, yet vast world our poor souls live in. The isolation and literal dreariness of it all is one thing. The other? What that does to people, their minds? That is the boiling point that we reach in the third issue. Coming off of the wandering of the mind, and stark realization it comes to out on the endless frozen tundra, we are greeted [quite literally] with the horrific results of where a man can go when forced. Our three escapees are now a daring duo. Someone didn’t make it. As simple of a concept as it is, it is extremely difficult to capture the true complexity of what a situation like this must be. The creative team has done a fantastic job of making this FEEL like it is supposed to.
The biggest wheel turning the story of Road of Bones is the synergy between the writing and artwork. Unfiltered, striking images have been used purposefully and not for shock value. Even with the inkling of where this was going [and then the reveal to kick off this issue] the pages unfold in a way that unsettles. This story is supposed to unsettle. Nothing about this telling is good. Road of Bones is a tragedy on more than one front. Yes the prison and that entire ordeal is horrible. Man being stripped to his most primal of drives is a horror far worse. The contrast of color that this issue has in comparison to the first two help drive that uneasy feeling. Before, we were dealing with the dread and impending terror. The Gulag itself along with wondering what was coming and what was really at play painted a very bleak picture. The book matched it. Now we are full on into the true horror of the story. This is exactly as bad as you thought. Accordingly the book has shifted.
Gone is the bleak and hope drained palette. In its place is the matter of fact vibrancy of what man is at his core. Rightfully there’s the blood to show it. This cold, barren landscape is now teaming with the hot messy truth. The friction of the ruthlessness of our escapees steams off the pages. Details like this truly capture the feeling and ensure that the reader is engrossed. The blood is everywhere. The literal spillage also seems to double as a metaphor for the now boiled over nature of what lies beneath the surface of our most primal instinct. The will to live, the survival instinct is the strongest urge we possess. Road of Bones #3 grips us with all the terror and individual hell that leads one to act on that urge.
OUT TODAY NCBD JULY 17th!