When you’re offered the chance to bring your dead child back to life, to see through his eyes, even if just for a few hours, would you be able to refuse? Bone Parish, Vol. 2, hit the shelves in September 2019, taking time to ask more serious questions and understand more about the motive to create and distribute Ash, a drug made from the cremains of loved ones. Cullen Bunn’s second trade volume further develops the story of a family dominating the New Orleans drug market, taking time to give old and new characters more back story and to consider further implications of selling the experiences of those dearly departed.
The comic opens with a wedding march through the streets of downtown New Orleans, where the beauty and life of the ceremony is contrasted with a skull-masked man silently toasting the promise of the couple’s reunification after death in heaven. From there the panels take on more color, bringing us to the present and the funeral of Wade, who died at the hands of a cartel who sought to take over the family business. The comic picks up pace and visits the two competitors—a family from Mexico and mafia from New York—who are intent on either buying out the family or recreating the drug themselves. Such attempts at recreation have resulted in terrific horror, with manifestations of the dead seeking life and struggling to emerge from the flesh of users. Attraction across enemy lines complicates as Mrs. Winters continues intrigues with Simon from New York, while son Brae sleeps with Leticia from Mexico. Meanwhile, Mrs. Winters is intent on further developing their compound, providing users with an interactive experience with their loved ones, rather than just reenactment of the deceased’s memories.
I found the first volume to be a bit formulaic in terms of hot new weird drug + family empire = cartels + mafia. This second volume has given me more back stories, which makes me more invested in the characters. The opening wedding scene with its long benediction about being partners in life and in death gave me more reason to care about Mrs. Winters using the last of her husband’s Ash to commune with him over the death of their son. Whereas the first volume portrayed the use of Ash primarily to get high on the experiences of creative geniuses and legends, this volume considers the possibility of being able to reconnect with loved ones after death. The Winters family could develop a drug that is a gift and a balm; it just happens to be a gift that will bring them great profit.
The art in this volume seems more intentional, especially in the use of color. A pink-blue gradient against sepia tones in the chapter pages indicate people coming into contact with the drug. Sickly greens and tans reveal mutant bodies, while teal blue inundates the detective’s struggle with whether to sell out to the Winters. The absence of text in many of the pages allows artist Jonas Scharf to tightly control building emotion, especially in the scene where Detective Herron faces Ash made from her 7-year-old son. The use of the Dia de los Muertos makeup and the skull mask on the mysterious lurking man emphasize the thin line between life and death that is drawn throughout the comic.
This horror comic is for teens and older who are enjoy crime comics with a touch of the supernatural. This volume, like the first, features some nudity and a fair amount of gore. In my review of Bone Parish, Vol. 1, I recommended waiting on purchasing until volume two was out. With its further developing story lining and continually improving art, I hereby support the purchase of both volumes.
Bone Parish, Vol. 2
By Cullen Bunn
Art by Jonas Scharf
Publisher Age Rating: T
Series Reading Order: (Wikipedia or Goodreads)
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Character Traits: Black, Mexican,