BACKSTORY: This is the first part of a multi-book story arc that, according to Dark Horse, is the final installation of this Eisner Award-winning horror series from writer Paul Tobin and artist Juan Ferreyra. Main protagonist Declan is forced to again meet the psychotic sociopath Nimble Jack, who is now resurrected following the death of Swivel in the previous Colder series, The Bad Seed.
The funny books aren’t so funny anymore. Well, they are, but it is a dark and sinister humor as opposed to the real laughs that I grew up with in the Silver and Bronze Age of comics.
Colder: Toss the Bones is a dark trip through the mashed up worlds of Nimble Jack. This is his story – at the outset, at least – as opposed to the series’ protagonist, Declan. As Declan is licking his wounds and recovering from the end battle with Swivel in Colder: The Bad Seed, Nimble Jack is returning.
Jack needs to feed his insanity and does so while moving between Boston and his alternate reality, Hunger World. All of this is happening while Declan, with an assist from mostly understanding wife Reece, tries to wrap his finger-less hands around what really happened and how much of it was reality. (Hint: all of it.)
As Jack grows stronger and bolder, Declan and Reece come to grips with their new reality . . . until a knock on the door.
The writing is flawless, with a story that pulls you in while satisfying your hunger for good, comics-grade horror. Tobin, who got his start writing all-ages material for Marvel, has taken to the horror genre quite nicely, with his Dark Horse works that include Prometheus and The Witcher. It is a crisp story that cuts no corners and takes the two paths offered by his characters to their logical conclusion.
My favorite part of this book, though, is the job done by Tobin and Juan Ferreyra (Gotham by Midnight, Prometheus, Constantine) to make Nimble Jack such a compelling and – ultimately – scary character. In many ways, he reminds me of the Joker, circa The Killing Joke. He is so “round the bend” that nothing reaches him, and it is his solemn belief that his actions are within bounds and normal. And, this is delivered through both his words and the intense art from Ferreyra. Those are the types of characters that come back and haunt me when I least expect it.
Colder: Toss the Bones #1 is a great start on what will likely be a five-part story arc that, if what has been printed is true, will end the line for Declan and Nimble Jack. I look forward to following this story and seeing how it ends.