Updated: Jan 24, 2020
ROAD OF BONES #1
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Letterer: Justin Birch
ROAD OF BONES is set in the bleak and cold world of 1950's USSR. Where prisoners of the Gulag perform hard labor in the frozen tundra of Siberia. The story focuses on Roman Morozov, who was sent to the Gulag for cracking a joke about Stalin and sentenced there for 25 years. The setting and the grim reality that face our characters makes this a story that is not for the weak of heart and makes for an entertaining read.
Douek wastes no time dropping us directly into this harsh and cold world that face these prisoners. With death constantly looming around the corner, hope has no place here. When Roman is accused of stealing food from the kitchen where he works, he gets more time tacked on to his sentence. So when he's presented with an opportunity to escape, he takes it. Having to traverse miles in the frozen tundra there is no room for error, capture means death, just as much as freezing does. As they appear to be in the clear, while hiding in a cave a strange being appears. It seems like its a vampire, but it's hard to make out. What this will add to the story isn't clear. It feels unnecessary, so it will be interesting to see how Douek utilizes this twist.
The art from Cormack is both depressing and wonderful at the same time. He paints such a dark and grim world, devoid of joy and hope, that you feel like you're right there with the prisoners. Each character is designed with such distinguishing features, you can see the scars and weariness in their eyes. One of the best aspects is how he was able to portray how cold it was, by showing their cold breath was genius.
As a huge fan of stories set in the real world, this book was a huge draw for me. Setting it in the past and not in America, helps set this book apart form all the other stuff out right now. Douek's script had just a touch of humor that makes this story not completely cold and bleak. The art was a welcome surprise. Having never seen Cormack's work before, I can't wait to seek out more of his stuff. Overall, this was one of the better debuts this year and has a very promising future.