The Second Arc Of Boom! Studio’s Necromantic Crime Drama Collected In Bone Parish Volume 2 SC

by Brendan M. Allen

“The 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.

Cracks are starting to form in Bone Parish Volume 2. 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 forces mobilize against the family and a shocking heel turn kicks off this second arc.

Though the Cartel struck first, they’re obviously going to want retribution for the blood spilled in the Winters’ answer. That sleazy Mafia capo Simon? His boss Mr. Gregori (The Man Upstairs) wants some answers as to why he doesn’t yet own the hottest new street level addiction in the Big Easy since Fentanyl. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a third faction that rears up that is uniquely positioned to inflict some serious hurt on the Winters. 

Did I mention Ash Madness? Oh, yeah. The drug has an apparently cumulative effect of driving the user absolutely batshit, using their hyper-real enhanced fantasies against them.

Still the strongest part of Bone Parish is Cullen Bunn’s development of the complex familial relationships within the Winters brood. Grace’s dependence on Andre, the rivalry between Brae and Brigitte, Leon’s need to protect Grace… These are the angles that drive this necromantic crime horror story. At its heart, Bone Parish is a story about family, loyalty,  and personal loss, and that’s what makes it work so well.

Seems like every member of the Winters clan has their own little secret side game. For the time being, at least, Brigitte is the only one who’s irreplaceable, since she has the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices the whole enterprise hangs from. The competition is nipping at her heels, though. Once they break through that wall they’re stuck on, even her position is at risk. The Winters’ tenuous familial bonds are stretching well past their limits. Something’s about to break.

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 an 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 products they’re knocking off.

Bone Parish Volume 2 expertly 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? Brilliant.  Each aspect builds of all the rest. 

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.

Bone Parish Volume 2 SC, collects chapters 5-8, BOOM! Studios, released 11 September 2019. Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Jonas Scharf, color by Alex Guimaraes, letters by Ed Dukeshire, cover by Lee Garbett, series designed by Michelle Ankley, collection designed by Jillian Crab, edited by Eric Harburn.

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