The act of humanity consists a great deal of ignoring what a human is. Yoda said not this "crude matter," and a great deal of religions agree. We push our bodies away from the ideal of the spiritual, letting us rise above the flesh machine that we pilot through daily life. We are a meat sack draped on a skeleton, constantly shedding waste through our skin, our bowels, even our very breath. You, right now, have a flesh sack of incredibly volatile acid burbling away amongst your innards, slowly breaking that cheeto or leaf of kale you ate recently (Mine's a hostess cupcake right now; this isn't about judging intake.) into something the rest of your acid-vulnerable body can use as fuel. We do everything we can to push those truths away with "higher callings" and "civilization" and "gifs," but the real truth is we're all delicious in the right circumstances.
Okay, that was graphic, but if you've been following this series, then I haven't said anything beyond what you've experienced so far. I don't know if I have words enough to paint as bleak and horrific a mind picture as Rich Douek has in the finale of Road of Bones. In our lives, we strive sometimes for such little goals: a corner office, a loving family (or at least a nice one and a mistress), and enough money to waste some on frivolities every now and again. Doeuk makes us face the idea that without the things that allow us to ignore or easily sate our base needs, eventually, our entire being bends towards its pursuit. He also allows us in this final act to consider the power and truth of myth...do we tell stories to hide from the dark places in the world or those that reside within us? Are the monsters that do terrible things truly an outside force, or do they simply mask our own participation in evil? We've all read stories that don't know how to end. Either they keep running and find out that they're doing something else soon that they're more interested in somehow than one of the greatest fantasy properties to ever hit the screen and they crap all over it, or suddenly editors are scrambling to strike hot irons and you get rushed or extended fantasy series that the previous snarky and "well"-disguised comment is based on. Finding the perfect ending, that last moment that drives the point of the narrative home while leaving the reader to still have to wrestle with the conclusion...that's the mark of true mastery of the genre. Road of Bones is one of the best paced, written, and self-contained stories that I've ever read. You may only spend an hour reading the whole of it, but you'll spend hours and days with it afterword. I have a shelf where I keep books that I intend to revisit often. This series has earned a spot there, and it's absolutely the most concise book on that shelf.
I mentioned in the last issue's review that Alex Cormack's ability to leave a searing impression on the mind of the reader in his final image was unparalleled. Well, damn if he didn't just go ahead and prove me right once again. The final moment distills the whole of the series into a single, deranged, and horribly beautiful panel. There's nothing else to say...just go get the damn thing and be haunted along with me and everyone else jumping onto this thing. I could spend hours dissecting each line, weight, and angle for you, but that's stupid. That's why we have art; it conveys that which language fails to, it reaches our core and tosses its pieces in and slams the door, leaving us to just move on afterword.
You want to find a treatise on the human condition when the chips are down? Road of Bones for you. Want to be scared stupid by the power of cruelty inherent in ourselves? Road of Bones for you. Wanna not be hungry in a heartbeat? Road of Bones for you. So far, each issue has been reprinted at least once. Jump on to see what people are finding to be so engaging.
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Creative Team: Rich Douek (Writer), Alex Cormack (Artist), Justin Birch (Letterer)
Publisher: IDW Pubilshing
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