Advance Review – Road of Bones #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Letters: Justin Birch
Release Date: 22nd May 2019

Roman Mozorov is a political prisoner, serving 25 years in the Gulag. 25 years for making a joke about Comrade Stalin at a party… The Gulag is a brutal, murderous place where men are sent to work until they die in the bleak, frozen, Siberian wastes. With little chance of ever being released, some of  the prisoners of Mother Russia cling to the folk myths of their childhood, and Roman Mozorov is just one of these men. Caught leaving food out for a Mythical Domovik, the camp commandant’s punishment is unusually harsh and, in desperation, Roman finds himself on the run with a pair of inmates he doesn’t know or trust. His new friends aren’t all they seem however, and only the Domovik can help Roman escape a grizzly end.

Road of Bones is dark, brutal, horrifying… glorious! Rich Douek has created a fantastically gripping and tense first issue that I guarantee will leave you itching for the next chapter. A survival horror mixed with folk horror set in a bleak, unforgiving and blood soaked world of hopelessness and suffering. This is the first time I’ve read any of Rich Douek’s work and I’m really impressed with what I’ve read so far. Douek has clearly spent some time researching both the prison culture of Russia and Russian folk tales. Despite the mythological veins within the story there is a grittiness and veracity in the way he brings his world to life and develops a claustrophobic tension effortlessly.

In some ways this reminds me of The Whispering Dark, but whereas the Dark Horse series featured a long, slow build-up of dread, Douek goes straight for the throat from the start here, and I get the feeling that the pressure is only going to increase as this tale progresses.

I’m not going to lie, when I saw that Alex Cormack was producing the art for this series, I gave a little involuntary squeal of joy. Cormack is an absolute beast! The work he produces for Comixtribe’s SINK is just on another level of twisted, disturbing and horrifying and it’s just a spectacular joy to see! Cormack doesn’t disappoint in this issue, he takes the pain and hopelessness and horror of Roman and his fellow inmates and brings it to stark terrifying life. Even if Douek’s narrative wasn’t as great as it is, I would buy this series just to see what Alex Cormack can create panel by panel page by page, issue by issue..

If you’re a fan of isolation horror you’re going to love this. If you’re a fan of folk horror then I think you’re going to love this. My only complaint about the whole issue is that the next one isn’t out yet.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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