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Title: The Map
Series: Bone #1
Authors: Jeff Smith
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Two weeks after being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins are suffering from quickly diminishing supplies and are stuck inside an uncharted desert. Smiley finds a map, but it is hand-drawn and crudely made. After quarreling, the cousins get attacked by a swarm of locusts and are separated. Fone Bone barely escapes and falls off a cliff. He climbs onto the other side of the cliff and discovers a trail of Smiley’s cigar butts. After following the trail, Fone Bone falls asleep whereupon the Rat Creatures come to see if he is the one they are looking for. They realize it is not him and plan to eat him, but are chased away by a dragon. After hiking through the mountain range using the map as a reference, he makes it to The Valley. While looking around, he meets Ted the Bug who tells him to find a person named Thorn, who could help him return home. Ted also warns him of winter being around the corner: a time where no one can enter or exit the Valley. Ted runs off when Fone Bone is again attacked by the Rat Creatures. He escapes due to one of the Rat Creatures calling the other fat. Fone Bone looks for Ted but he is unable to find him. He takes a drink from a river and then sits under the tree nearby. He worries about getting out, saying the valley is too weird for him. A blanket of snow then falls on the ground marking the beginning of winter, marking his point.
This Bone series was originally released as 56 individual comic books starting in the early 90’s. They were then re-released in 10 volumes. Those 10 volumes were then released yet again as a Complete Collection. I read that One Volume Bone back in 2007 and it was over 1300 pages of awesomesauce. So when I decided to expand my visual reading beyond just Spawn and some manga, Bone was an easy choice. It was made even easier with the discovery that I had access to Bone as the original comics, making it much easier to read one a month.
So this drops us right into the action, such as it is. The Bone cousins are dying of thirst in a desert and they’re off the map. It’s obvious we’re not in our world simply based on the Bone’s physiognomy. We also get really GOOD character workup in just a couple of panels. Smith gives us each of the Bone’s cousin’s character so deftly, so easily it just slips right on us. It is good storytelling and he doesn’t stretch it out for one million chapters. I can appreciate an artist at work.
The other thing is just how weird things are. There are giant furry creatures called rats that eat any kind of meat. Then at the end the season changes with an entire foot of snow falling over the whole region in one big pancake. There’s a dragon and talking insects. Fantastic!
This was a lot of fun, well told and I think this re-read is going to hold up extremely well. Bravo Mr Smith!