New To You Comics #89: BOOM! Studios’ Necromantic Crime Thriller ‘Bone Parish’ Vol. 2

Tony and Brendan have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. Brendan tends to stick to horror, noir, and weird indies. Occasionally, their paths cross, but like most readers, they tend to stay in their own lanes.

New To You Comics is here to break up the pattern a little. Tony will throw some of his favorites at Brendan, and Brendan will hit Tony with some of his. Every NTYC title is brand new to one of them. Once in a while a title will land with both of them. Most of the time they can find some common ground, but even when they don’t, it’s fun to watch them go at it. Brendan fights dirty. Tony kicks like a mule.  

Continuing in the October horror theme, this week Brendan introduces Tony to the second arc in BOOM! Studios’ Bone Parish, by Cullen Bunn, Jonas Scharf, and Alex Guimaraes. Here’s what BOOM! says about Bone Parish Vol. 2:

‘Ash is the hottest new drug in the Big Easy, and there’s only one way to get it: the Winters, an upstart crime family that pioneered the drug made from the ashes of the dead. But with multiple other factions moving in on their territory with deadly results, just how long can Grace Winters and her children hold on to the lucrative trade?

Eisner Award-nominated author Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Empty Man) and illustrator Jonas Scharf continue their critically-acclaimed blend of horror and crime in Bone Parish Volume Two, as the Winters family discovers the true depths they’ll go to protect the fragile business they’ve built.’

Brendan Allen: Back in Bone Parish Vol. 1, the Winters brood built up their unorthodox family business and established themselves as big hitters in the illicit NOLA drug trade. As great as all that sounds, cracks are starting to form. 

Wade’s death is taking its toll, driving a wedge between the remaining Winters siblings. Ironically, the loss of a son may be just what Grace needed to finally move on from the numbing pain of losing Andre. What seems like a lull in the action is anything but, as dark forces mobilize against the family and a shocking heel turn kicks off this second arc.

Tony Thornley: This was an interesting change of pace from the first volume. I felt like the first volume had a lot more scares, and this one felt a little more like a prestige crime drama with a major horror undertone. This is something that I could see adapted onto HBO or Hulu. There were some really interesting character developments, some cool plot movement, and some really great horror moments.

Brendan: This book kicks off with a fantastic pair of sequences that really sum up everything that’s at stake here, and the gap between where the Winters started and where they are currently. Even in the wedding scene, though, there’s a looming sense of dread, with a man dressed as Bawon Samdi lurking in the shadows. 

And then in that second scene, where Grace uses the last of her husband’s Ash to allow him to attend Wade’s funeral? Powerful stuff. It’s a touching gesture, but it’s also Grace finally letting go and moving on, in whatever twisted way. 

Tony: Yeah, that’s the sort of thing where I think it’s more of a character piece than a horror story too. It doesn’t have the overt horror of the first volume. This is a creepy build up but it also wants to make sure we care about the characters. Bunn also makes sure to give the readers enough recap that I was able to step back into the book with no problem. Not enough writers on creator owned books are able to acknowledge the breaks between volumes. There’s so many times that I’ve looked at a creator-owned Volume 2 and sat with it for too long before I remembered how the last volume ended.

Brendan:  I’ve said many times in my reviews of this series, that while Bone Parish is an occult/necromantic/crime/horror show, at its heart, it’s a story of family, loyalty,  and personal loss. That underlying family drama is what drives the whole story and binds all the elements together. Grace’s dependence on Andre, the rivalry between Brae and Brigitte, Leon’s need to protect Grace… These are the angles that make the haunted drugs thing relatable. 

Tony: Yeah, definitely. It’s extremely episodic too. I don’t think it’s the best of Bunn’s creator owned books (that’s Harrow County) but it’s probably one of his most well-rounded stories.

Brendan: This second arc eases up quite a bit on the Ash tripping, but the art team of  Jonas Scharf and Alex Guimaraes get to cut loose with the body horror elements. One of the most disturbing scenes takes place in a bootleg Ash den, where the bodies of recently deceased junkies are strewn about in various levels of twisted, grotesque deformity. Get the brand name, kids. Not all generics are, in fact, equal to the pharmaceuticals they’re knocking off.

Tony: Oh, we’ve talked about how some forms of horror don’t hit me as hard in comics as they do on TV or movies- cosmic horror, slashers, stuff like that. But the one that will always get me, no matter the medium, is going to be body horror. We don’t get as much spooky, creepy horror here, but Scharf and Guimaraes really ramp up the body horror. My hell it’s good.

And that’s on top of generally good pacing, character acting and atmosphere.

Brendan: You already know where I’m at on this one. We’ve talked about it a lot. Bone Parish Vol 2 blends elements of crime, horror, noir, and mafia tropes into an incredibly engaging and compelling story. Taken individually, each of these elements could easily sell their own stories. Mashed all together like this? Dead brilliant. Each aspect builds off all the rest. Take one out, and it just doesn’t play.

If it has to be classified, it’s a crime thriller, right? But those supernatural, horror, and gangster elements shape this thing into an animal that defies classification. Pain, personal loss, growth, loyalty, betrayal, haunted drugs… poetry. Twisted, horrific, hideous poetry.

Where’d you land?

Tony: It’s a lot of fun, and well worth checking it. My only problem was that it was a bit slight- only four issues. Honestly, if it didn’t have such a perfect break at the end of issue 4, I’d say it should have been two trades rather than three. It’s over quick.

Brendan: You nailed it, I think. The whole story is 12 chapters. It broke off really cleanly after four, and I don’t think it would have worked nearly as well in two acts. Three four-chapter parts works better than two sixes here. 

What’s up next?

Tony:We’re going to wrap up spooky month with a recent horror hit- Department of Truth V1 by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds!

Tony and Brendan have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. Brendan tends toCOMICONRead More

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