Story – Rich Douek
Art – Alex Cormack
Letters – Justin Birch
The conclusion of the absolute knock out mini-series is here. The road (sorry) has been beyond hellish in a literal and metaphorical sense. Our weary travelers have gone well beyond fumes to run on. Still managing cognizant thought they are able to navigate the last bit of road they must in order to reach the freedom they so desperately crave. It’s tough to imagine just what that state of mind (or lack of) must be like. To have the ultimate God of survival at war with one of his very own Soldiers, hunger, is a perfect example of how this creative team has dug deep and produced layer upon layer with this book.
Especially notable in this, the concluding issue, is the portrayal of the faces of our “surviving” duo. I won’t name just in case you’re reading this ahead of actually digging into issue three. How our remaining duo is drawn is simply unreal. The wear of the physical and psychological journey is written all over the faces of our survivors. It’s more than that though. The emotional terror that this series has delivered is tattooed in the lines of and etched in the cracks that adorn the visages of the gulag escapees.
This imagery perfectly encapsulates the road that we, as readers have been taken on with Road of Bones. The story that has been unfolded clearly has discussion about the depths from which man will dredge the will to survive. Presented with unrelenting circumstances the break of psyche is not just understandable, but expected. The unimaginable has a way of bringing about more of the same. The gulag is about as unimaginable as it can get and still be grounded in a reality that has, and in some ways still exists in this world. That grip on reality is what truly brings about the terror of this series and allows for the supernatural element to creep in without losing any effectiveness of the human horrors already built up.
In this closing chapter the fleeting hope of escape is the driving force. The exploration of the lengths man will go to survive comes crashing down even more so than last issue. Almost beyond belief there is yet one more obstacle to ultimate freedom that pops up. Then the blizzard comes. The intensity and urgency find a new height. That’s when the mind breaks. Time and time again the instinct to keep going has overcome. There is a point where reality and truth overtake even the strongest of desires and powerful of wills. It is in that moment the break occurs.
Going into this final issue I was curious as to how the Domovik would be resolved. One way or another our travelers were going to come to a resolution. What of the ‘guiding’ spirit? The over-watching guardian? I can’t say for sure, though I do come away with what is for me, a satisfying ending. The true terror in all things is the overbearing dread of feeling that maybe, just maybe there’s still a door open somewhere. Perhaps there’s a knot in the string still or that window in the other room wasn’t locked. The resolution with the Domovik gave me another layer to those already exposed and broken through in this book. I question just what exactly the entity is. I question just how shattered the mind is. I question just how far down the rabbit hole of survival instinct we ended up going. The final few pages of the book (and series) cement Road of Bones as one of the best terror stories to be delivered in comics in a hell of a long time.
I say terror because the book is written and presented in a manner in which the horror of things is a byproduct of truth. The narrative revolves around concepts that people simply do not want to admit, let alone face. What man is capable of when pushed to the uttermost extremes isn’t a place just about anyone is willing to go. This book as taken us there … and it leaves the window in the other room unlocked. That folks, is the shiver that goes up your spine as you close issue four.
DO NOT MISS THE CONCLUSION
OUT THIS NCBD AUGUST 14th!