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Road of Bones #1 Review

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Writer Rich Douek
Artist Alex Cormack
Letterer Justin Birch
For IDW Publishing

I feel like comics have hit the stage, much like TV, where there is just a ton of great content and there’s absolutely no signs of slowing down. Creators have taken really genuine looks at genres, in some cases meshed genres, and doing new things that have brought a rejuvenation with it. This is probably a golden age of horror comics, I think we will look back and reminisce on some of the ground breaking stories being told, and I think that IDW has been at the top of their game.

Road of Bones is certainly a horror comic but it’s wrapped up in an intense character study that takes place in a Russian gulag. Often times real life can be just as scary as any story and the Russian gulag system was one of history’s biggest horrors. As I said Road of Bones takes place in a gulag around 1950 and follows an inmate named Roman as he attempts to stay alive in the harsh environment. The character development of Roman and all the unfortunate souls stuck in the gulag is detailed through both visual and dialog with a very full and intense look at the misery people had to endure. I love the characters and the world building but what I think makes Douek’s writing so special is the way he sprinkles in the supernatural and introduces the Domovik, from what I can tell a Domovik is a Russian boogeyman or fairytale, and it’s eventually revealed by the end of the first issue. Douek’s writing is equal parts driven and intense and beyond the Domovik there may be no more horrific place than a Russian gulag.

When doing a horror book there isn’t a corner that can be cut to get the desired effect of the horrific. The characters, the backdrop and environments, and of course the monsters. All of these things need to be done well and with a fair amount of consistency. Cormack’s style and his ability switch from light to dark to accentuate the panel is the first thing I noticed. The first few pages are light but the horrible aspects of gulag life are on full display but Cormack switches it up in the next pages by going dark. The art is fulfilling and I think that Cormack truly took the idea and script and accentuated the areas of the story with the visual that they deserved. I honestly feel like the connection between Cormack and Douek will prove to be worth our wild in later issues as well.

Road of Bones is available on new comic book day at most local comic shops so get out there and support those comic shops!

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