"Bone Parish #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Jonas Scharf
Colored by Alex Guimaraes
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 31st, 2018
The Winters Family is under attack from a rival cartel who wants to take over their business. See, they deal in a very specific type of drug, made from the ashes of the deceased. It can be deadly if used incorrectly, but it can also provide an incredible high, allowing the user to experience someone else's life first hand. What the Winters do next will determine if they'll live or die.
If you took the supernatural elements out of Bone Parish, it would read as a stunning drug thriller. These two cartels are working against each other, making moves like a game of chess with real people on the board. Writer Cullen Bunn keeps you guessing, as it's tough to predict what everyone will do next. These characters have already shown that they're willing to go to great lengths to protect what's theirs.
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The emotional factor is what elevates Bone Parish. It's not just that the Winters have built this drug empire from scratch, it's that they have so much invested in it personally. For example, Grace, the matriarch of the clan, keeps a vial of her husband Andre's ashes close to her. She's hesitant to use it because there's only so much left and once those ashes are gone, he'll be gone forever.
Recent events have hit hard and she needs to see her husband's face again to try and keep her on track. It's a heartbreaking scene as she argues with a ghost, or rather an image of a ghost, trying to explain her actions that could have torn the family apart.
Artist Jonas Scharf does a fantastic job with this scene, particularly the shots of Andre. His image is fleeting and seemingly made of smoke, so he's a little hazy around the edges. A strong wind could blow him away despite his strong stature. This plays into the overall nature of the drug and how fleeting the high can be.
Grace and the rest of the Winters go through this emotional journey with Bone Parish #4. When the issue starts out, they're broken after being dealt a devastating blow. Tears are shed and they're struggling to pick up the pieces. Then they steel themselves and prepare for war. This results in a frightening series of events that leaves a bloody trail of vengeance. It shows just how deadly and calculating they can be when crossed. This sends a message not only to those that have wronged them, but to anyone that might think to do so in the future.
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One attack really stands out in that they use a collection of ashes to force an enemy to overdose. This poor guy experiences a flood of painful memories all at once. This explodes on the page in fiery yellows and blood reds from colorist Alex Guimaraes. This is a horrifying visage packed with so much pain and anguish.
To take things over the top, there's a bit of body horror in the end that is very twisted and disturbing. I can't imagine what this guy must be feeling as his body essentially becomes this swirling puddle of melted flesh and eyeballs. Letterer Ed Dukeshire gives us an idea of the level of pain he's going through from the jagged word balloons and horrific font used. This is absolute torture.
Bone Parish works on many levels. It's a touching family story dealing with loss and a Breaking Bad-esque tale of drug dealing mixed with some truly unsettling horror that will stay with you long after you put the book down. This issue serves as a conclusion, but also as a first step for the Winters into a bold new era. They're making their mark and it's going to have some major repercussions.