By Paul Tobin, Juan Ferreyra, & Nate Piekos
Halloween is coming, and along with it, we have our ghosts and goblins, our Jack O’Lanterns, and sexy costumes that really shouldn’t be considered sexy. It’s the time of year where we all hunger for horror, whether from movies, books, or comics. It’s the time of year where we revel in being afraid. To whet our appetites for nightmares to come, I thought I’d take a look at the opening of the third volume of Colder, Toss the Bones.
Declan Thomas is not a normal person. In 1941, he escaped the Sansid Asylym for the Criminally Insane, but between then and present day, he hasn’t aged. Instead, his body has just gotten colder and colder. Not only that, but he can cure or worsen a person’s insanity and see “The Hunger World” a Lovecraftian Hell dimension inhabited by all kinds of nasty monsters. The nastiest being Nimble Jack and Swivel. After their defeat, Declan and his live in caretaker, Reece Talbot are trying to get back to normal when Nimble Jack is resurrected and intent of killing and eating Declan.
Colder: Toss the Bones is incredibly surreal but in a great way. Nimble Jack is a fantastic villain and every scene with him is simultaneously terrifying and fun. He’s like the lovechild of Spring-heeled Jack and Secret Six’s Ragdoll raised by the Joker in Silent Hill’s Otherworld. Most of this issue is him running amuck in Boston, killing people and feeding off of their insanity. There’s a bit of dark humor to his escapades, keeping the reader on their toes. One minute, he and his army of evil pigeons could be saying or doing something that’s amusing, the next he’s killed someone in a horrifically gruesome way. His unpredictability makes him incredibly engaging and terrifying.
Declan and Reece add a nice bit of grounding to the comic. Throughout the story, they’re doing a bunch of mundane things: going out for breakfast, going to the grocery store, making dinner and relaxing at home. In theory, it sounds incredibly boring, but what makes it work is the fantastic chemistry between the two. They’ve been through a lot together and have learned several awful secrets about Declan’s dark past but are just now getting ready to discuss it. Even though Reece is pushing the topic, it doesn’t create a rift in their relationship. Ordinarily, the revelations about a character’s horrifying past would make the couple distrust and fight each other nonstop. They approach it like adults who genuinely care for each other. I like how they could just sit around their apartment, enjoying each other’s company. It’s what makes them feel like a realistic couple. It’s not all romantic poetry and bickering. It’s usually just two people sitting in a comfortable silence
The artwork by Juan Ferreyra is fantastic. It’s moody and expressive. You see it best in Nimble Jack. So much of the character’s sinister playfulness is telegraphed just through his body language. The imagery is effective and very disturbing. It will stick with you even after you’ve put the book down. The Hunger World is very Lovecraftian and its inhabitants seem to be ripped straight from your nightmares. The coloring is very well done. Like many horror comics, it goes for the monochromatic cool colors for many scenes, but it will surprise you with the sudden use of bright vibrant colors, typically for blood or to represent insanity. In the grey Hunger World, the occasional splash of blood really pops.
Overall, this is definitely worth checking out, but I suggest reading the other two volumes first. It makes the world much easier to follow. That said, it is a pretty good jumping on point. It’s obvious that there’s continuity that you’ve missed, but you won’t be totally lost. So, if you’re looking for a creepy story to open the season, I highly recommend it.