Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Letters: Justin Birch
Release Date: 17th July 2019
At the end of last issue’s horrifying cliff-hanger we were left with a single chilling panel of Roman’s terrified face as Sergei and Grigori prepare to enact their grizzly plans. Issue three opens with an equally chilling scene, brought to life in one of Alex Cormack’s trademark blood-spattered pages, along with a massive question mark as to whose blood is soaking the page. The remainder of the issues shows us the events leading up to this page, a desperate, hopeless search for the fleeing Roman and a brutal, blood-soaked battle for survival. I’ll leave you to discover exactly whose survival when you pick up your own copy.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews of Road of Bones then you’ll know that I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about Douek, Cormack and Birch’s work on this series and I’m genuinely running out of superlatives to use when talking to people about it. The first issue of this series is already on its third printing and issue two is on its second, which is great news for the guys but havoc, I’m guessing, for Cormack who is producing a new cover for each reprint.
This issue specifically is so tense that I genuinely jumped out of my seat at some points and I almost passed out from holding my breath through others. If Douek ever gets bored of writing comics he could make a big hit, in my humble opinion, in the Scandinavian Thriller market where his talents could give Stieg Larson and Jo Nesbo a run for their money. This is a man who sits down and thinks “just how far can I stretch people’s nerves out?” and then goes one step further. When things inevitably spin out of control the sheer ferocity of the violence is just staggering and does not let up, continuing page after page until the whole world feels like it’s painted blood red.
A world painted blood red is about as perfect a segue into talking about Alex Cormack’s work that I can think of. I’ve made no secret of the fact that Cormack is easily one of my favourite artists at the moment, and unless something spectacular happens is very likely to get my ‘Top Artist of 2019’ vote. The landscape that this story takes place in, and this issue particularly, is bleak, desolate and white. In lesser hands this could easily be problematic but Cormack uses it with such fantastic effect to really bring the characters screaming off the page.
I really love what Cormack does with his characters, and if you ignore for a moment the horror that he brings to the page, you’ll see the skill with which he brings Douek’s creations to life. Each character is rendered so realistically, with all their imperfections and scars and personalities so clearly defined, that they’re just fascinating to watch as the story unfolds.
That being said, what Cormack excels at is bringing us horror. I’m not going to spoil the ending of this issue for you, but just when you think Alex Cormack can’t possibly horrify us any more we hear a cry of “hold my beer” and he promptly delivers the two most horrific pages of the series so far.
Please don’t assume that I’m saying Cormack carries this series, that would do a great disservice to Rich Douek who, for me, is writing one of the most compelling thrillers of the year. As a team they seem to be unstoppable, and Road of Bones is the unquestioned highlight of my pull list right now.
If you haven’t heeded my previous reviews of this series so far and started picking it up for yourself I truly hope this convinces you to get on board. If this is the first review you’ve seen from me then be assured that there are still ample opportunities to catch up.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek