‘Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #5’ - Advance Comic Book Review

In the final issue of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird, you realize there’s something deeply personal at the center of Caitlin R. Kiernan’s gritty, poetic fairy tale. Something that is inevitable or was inevitable, and no matter how hard one tries to change it, it cannot be undone. Perhaps it’s death, maybe pain, quite possibly life. That’s where the magnificence of Kiernan’s yarn comes into play.

The central story of Alabaster is that two whack-job siblings raise Dancy Flammarion from the dead and kidnap her lover Maisy to force Dancy to do something for them involving a race of demon dogs (who the brother and sister manage to upset along the way). We can’t forget about Maisy’s sassy talking bird whose role in the proceedings I won’t divulge. This is the plot, and a fun one at that. It’s filled with pulp-style violence and majestically dark horror landscapes; you can feel the humidity, that damp sweat clinging to the characters. All this is due, in large part, to Daniel Warren Johnson’s art and Carlos Badilla’s colors. This is an insanely beautiful book starting with the glorious covers by Greg Ruth. The covers themselves hint at the second thing that makes this book magnificent.

Underneath the plot, there’s something metaphysical going on, something otherworldly that’s sad and lonely and can’t be escaped. It can’t really even be described, and that’s what makes this book so beautiful. You don’t need to know exactly what it is - for everyone, it’ll probably mean something different – but you’ll feel it as the characters careen toward chaos. Reality is clawed away, and a deeper wisdom is understood.

None of those story points - all those things we live and fight for, those things we try to hold close to us - in the end, inevitability, will win out. Kiernan has elevated this story to the likes of Sandman or Swamp Thing. I suggest you read it.

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