Barrelhaven (Bone #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Barrelhaven
Series: Bone #5
Author: Jeff Smith
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 28
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Boneville.fandom.com

The rat creature surround the farmhouse and Gran’ma Ben tells Fone Bone and Thorn to run while she fights off the rat creatures. While running the two get surrounded by rat creatures and Fone Bone calls out for The Great Red Dragon’s help. The dragon appears and chases the army away. The dragon returns Fone Bone and Thorn to the farmhouse to find it destroyed. Phoney Bone arrives at the Barrelhaven Tavern and finds Smiley Bone who is working there as a bartender. He also meets Lucius Down, the owner of the tavern and gets on his bad side as well. Phoney learns that they don’t use money here, meaning that he has to work at the tavern to pay of his debt.

My Thoughts:

Man, Phoney Bone just can’t seem to keep his mouth shut or to stay out of trouble. 10 minutes in the tavern and he’s already a problem child. It makes me wonder how he got so rich in the first place! He’s not that clever, just more clever than either of his cousins. Which isn’t saying much, hahahahaa!

Gran’ma Ben reveals a side that while not unexpected (she does race cows and wins after all), isn’t what you’d expect. Busting through her own walls, throttling the rat creatures and saying how she’d be just fine because she fought in the “Big War”. There is history to this valley that none of the Bone’s are aware of nor does it seem like Thorn is either. The dragon reveals himself fully to Thorn in rescuing Fone and in the process reveals that there is some sort of agreement between him and Kingdok (the king of the rat creatures), probably going back to said “Big War”.

With just a few phrases, Smith has given the readers clues that this valley is not just an idyllic place that the Bones have stumbled into and brought trouble with them. Trouble has already been here and beaten back. What is amazing is the fact that he just used a few phrases. He isn’t spending the next 6 issues fleshing out the history and telling us every single detail and removing our chance to use our imagination. But he doesn’t leave the past alone either. It’s a fine line to walk (a line which Spawn failed miserably at) and I think he does an admirable job of balancing it all.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Kingdok (Bone #4) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Kingdok
Series: Bone #4
Author: Jeff Smith
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 28
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Boneville.fandom.com

The day before the spring fair Fone Bone and Phoney Bone do chores around the farmhouse. After Fone Bone tells Phoney about the great cow race and how they bet on the races Phoney Bone thinks of a new scam and runs off to Barrelhaven. While traveling to Barrelhaven, Phoney Bone encounters the two rat creatures and Kingdok. He overhears that they are looking for a “small bald creature with a star on its chest”. The rat creatures are summoned to a high council by “The Hooded One” who sends every rat creature in the valley to attack the farmhouse.

My Thoughts:

Things take a turn for the serious here. Not only are the 2 rat creatures here, but we are introduced to their king, Kingdok, who is on a scale larger than them as they are to Fone Bone. And we meet the Hooded One, who appears to be leading Kingdok, and who knows the dragon that is guarding Fone.

Phoney Bone is still causing trouble on the farm but runs away to the town to do some betting. He overhears the 2 rats and Kingdok and I do wish he’d been caught and eaten. Oh well, can’t have everything I want in a comic I guess.

The issue ending with a horde of rat creatuers surrounding the farm of Gran’ma Ben really hits home the point that this comic is not going to be a bunch of panels of talking heads (like the Peanuts) or one issue gags (like Garfield). Smith has a big story to tell and I felt like we as readers fell down the rabbit hole in this issue. There’s no going back and no way out except forward.

If you’d like a review of the whole series at once (I’m going to be taking years at this pace), Jeroen recently reviewed the Complete Bone. Just remember, he’s a jaded european, not a bright, cheery, optimistic American like me. So take his review with a grain or three of salt 😉

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Phoney Bone (Bone #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Phoney Bone
Series: Bone #3
Author: Jeff Smith
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 28
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Boneville.fandom.com

At the farmhouse Fone Bone helps Thorn with the chores while waiting for Gran’ma Ben. Fone Bone shows Thorn what’s in his knapsack including the map they found in the desert which Thorn finds familiar. Phoney Bone meets Gran’ma Ben and instantly gets on her bad side. Fone and Phoney are reunited when Gran’ma Ben arrives back at the farmhouse. Phoney starts eating a pie Thorn made especially for Gran’ma Ben and he shoves the remaining part in Fone’s mouth and blames him.

My Thoughts:

While we “met” Phoney Bone in issue 1, it was just a couple of panels. Here we get a couple of pages and my goodness, he’s the most selfish creature around. He’s the reason the Bones were run out of Boneville in the first place and I have to wonder how much trouble he is going to have to get his cousins into before they abandon him to his just desserts. He isn’t malevolently evil, but he’s in no way good. I can’t remember for the life of me if Smith redeems him by the end or just leaves him as a foil to Fone.

And while I’m thinking about it, why did Smith choose to use Fone and Phoney as names? They’re too close. I found myself several times thinking in my head “Fonee Bone” and having to stop and think a second about who I was actually reading about. Visually, they quite different so there’s no issue there. But being a words person, I did get tripped up a couple of times.

Smith continues to draw me into this world with little things here and there. Thorn recognizing the map and telling Fone it was like one in her dreams. Means there’s going to be mysticism in this series and probably not just funny vignettes. For 28 pages, Smith has once again kept my interest.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Thorn (Bone #2) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Thorn
Series: Bone #2
Authors: Jeff Smith
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 28
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Boneville.fandom.com

Fone Bone is now living in the Valley and has befriended some of the woodland creatures. Near the end of winter, his friend Miz Possum has Fone Bone babysit her kids for a short time while she goes to visit Miz Hedgehog. While playing with him, the kids run out of the house and get caught by the Rat Creatures. Fone Bone snatches the kids from the Rat Creatures and tells them to run while he creatures a distraction. The Rat Creatures chase Fone Bone for awhile but they are again chased away by The Great Red Dragon. The dragon gives him a brief blast of fire (at this Fone Bone questions his choice to let the Rat Creatures go) and tells him to “never use an ace when a two will do.” Fone Bone finds the Possum Kids, who have managed to get to Miz Possum safely. They acknowledge he was chased by Rat Creatures but don’t know the part about the dragon (The kids claim that dragons don’t exist, and their mother (plus Miz Hedgehog) agree, saying that he was adding to his “dashing” story). Fuming, he goes to the hot springs to take a bath and finds a beautiful woman and almost immediately falls head over heels in love. She tells Fone Bone that her name is Thorn (who Ted told him to find). Unfortunately for Fone Bone, she has never heard of Boneville but offers to help by letting him stay at the farmhouse which Fone Bone accepts.

My Thoughts:

Once again, Smith has impressed the everliving daylights out of me with this single comic issue. Fone Bone has an adventure, learns about the valley, meets Thorn and falls in love. All in 28 pages.

He has another run in with the rat creatures and the dragon saves him but nobody seems to believe that the dragon is real and only Thorn believes the rat creatures are real. And Fone is disappointed to learn that Thorn has no idea where Boneville is, so she’ll not be able to help him return.

Smith’s humor is a bit skewed and I really like it. I’ve included a pix here to illustrate it:

While it’s not a Laugh Out Loud moment, it does showcase that sly humor mixed with slapstick that really appeals to me.

I like that so far, each of these comics has advanced the plot in a decided direction. Here Fone meets Thorn and begins his quest to find his cousins. It is a concrete goal with real steps being taken to follow through on it. No dream sequences or social commentary or other “messages”. Just Smith telling a fun story.

Bravo.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Map (Bone #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Map
Series: Bone #1
Authors: Jeff Smith
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 28
Words: 1K



Synopsis:

From Boneville.fandom.com

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.

My Thoughts:

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!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bone: One Volume Edition

Bone: One Volume Edition
Jeff Smith
Graphic Novel
1332 pags

3 “Bone” cousins are run out of Boneville because one of them, Phoney Bone, is a scam artist. They come into an unknown valley, begin living there and meet new people. They end up getting sucked into a long simmering war between the Lord of the Locusts and the Royalty of the Valley. Starts out light and funny, almost vignette’sh, but then it gets more serious once the idea of the long standing war comes into play. It keeps its humorous side though all the way to the end. Very well done and executed.