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‘Bone Parish Volume 1:’ Trade Paperback Review

In Cullen Bunn’s Bone Parish, there’s a new drug on the street. Called “ash,” it’s a cocaine-like powder created from the remains of the deceased. While you’re high on the ash of the person in question, it brings them back for you, but it can do so much more, including allowing you to live out the dead’s memories. The drug is so popular that it’s drawing the attention of some not-so-great people who want in on the action. This attention will test the family at the center of the burgeoning enterprise, who in many ways don’t quite understand the drug either.

Run by matriarch Grace who still has conversations with her dead husband, the company is run with the help of her offspring: Brigitte, a chemist, makes the drug; Brae, the eldest brother, makes the deals; Leon is pretty smart on his feet; and the youngest, most naïve, Wade, does his best. There’s plenty of prickliness between the family members, but Bunn does a good job of balancing that out with the fact that they have a strong connection.

Jonas Scharf (artist) and Alex Guimeraes (colors) make a pretty effective team, creating a fun style that shifts between dreary greys and bright, lucid, dream-like sequences. Even the worst trips feel like colorful, tie-dye, acid-infused landscapes. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

While I like the book so far, four issues (one volume) in, it’s really only starting to scratch the surface of what’s going on here. Bunn and Scharf have settled on a slow burn, and while the end result may prove to be greater than the individual pieces, I’m not head-over-heels yet for the book. There are some really cool ideas at play, and some really darkly playful images and moments. One of the darkest is when they use the drug as chemical warfare.

There are definitely elements of horror – I mean they’re digging up bodies out of graveyards – but Bunn and Scharf are more interested in the high-stakes drug trade drama right now between family members, opposing gangs, and soon to be more heavily involved law enforcement as they lay out the groundwork for what’s to come. With Bunn involved, I expect a lot.

Creative Team: Cullen Bunn (writer, creator), Jonas Scharf (artist, creator), Alex Guimeraes (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Michelle Ankley (series designer), Jillian Crab (collection designer), Eric Harburn (editor)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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