Greetings, from Dogpatch (Skin Deep #3)

Image result for greetings from dogpatch skin deep book cover

 

This isn’t a mistake. I wasn’t thinking about whether there would be novels for the first two, so I’m beginning my review with the third, but the fact I’ve read this many should warm anyone else who hasn’t heard of this STELLAR online comic, and I may even perhaps go back eventually and review the first two for funsies. The bugbear Myra, Eustace, a fox spirit, Marshall, the raven spirit, and Gabe, the angel are currently driving into Arkansas in May, this being 2005. Myra is quite annoyed by her passengers and complaining about the reason Gabe is even along for the ride when he could fly, Eustace unable to shed light on his reasons, nor why he took the skull which had been given to a demon by Myra (this all being explained, here). Their next conversation has to do with whether Gabe is male or female, until he/she puts a stop to it, and they continue on their ride to Dogpatch.

When parking, Gabe notes how they had to get down there in an odd fashion, Eustace explaining how a tram used to be lowered down to the theme park when it was still open, a dryad currently keeping the place well hidden, even though it was right off the highway. After Myra points out how a Bigfoot was currently watching their movements, Gabe steps up to get the attention of whoever lived there, wanting to speak to the big kahuna, a chickadee, Hank with a shotgun sporting a trucker hat popping out near his feet. Myra’s had enough and states how Bigfoot let them pass, even though Hank was confused by how the group hadn’t been stopped, she then telling of only being there to pick something up and would be out of there quickly, since the place didn’t seem right. Marshall then steps up to vouch for Gabe being cool and they wanting to speak to Old Ivory about the guards.

Hank takes Gabe’s word when showing him the “nightmare” he was attempting to weed out the owner of, so Hank leads them all to where Old Ivory is, Marshall and Eustace then discussing how they agreed with Myra’s instinct about Dogpatch being out of the ordinary. The two then get into the last time Michelle and crew had run into the nightmare which was then related to the demons which were setting them up (Orientations and the One Eyed Bear being reference, the links, above). Hank then can’t stop himself from gabbing at Gabe due to not having ever been in the presence of an angel before and deciding to relate the communities history of where they traveled and how they picked up their guards. Then, before Hank could get into it, Gabe shuts down any questions he may have on religious topics and so Hank instead goes in to inform Ivory, a woodpecker of his visitors.

Gabe then interrupts to toss the nightmare into Ivory’s hands, he not knowing how the skull could’ve gotten to Missouri, nor how the demons picked it up, they having been searching for “her” for some months. Ivory then states how he’d been training some animals to take over his jobs when he was no longer there, Gabe inquiring into how he’d believed spirit animals were incapable of death, but Ivory’s case was due to most of the specific sort of woodpecker he represented had been dying out, and he was on the verge of being done, so he’d been having the other animals take care of the daily tasks whilst he trained them for the long-term workload, and Ivory didn’t have any hard feelings for humans causing the death of his species due to his long lifespan and curiosity of what came next.

After Ivory calls over the two who had been handling the responsibilities, but only one, Ricky arriving since the other, Obi was taking care of some specific sort of task, he apparently not being responsible for her disappearance, and they figuring she’d run away. Gabe asks a few pressing questions which suggested they hadn’t done much to aid the recovery of the nightmare, but Ricky makes clear how they’d been quite worried, and was annoyed when learning Gabe had found the nightmare a little while ago and hadn’t brought her back sooner, they then hearing a scream, Ricky believing Obi was in trouble and hoping the Howler didn’t have him. When they approach his yells, they see Myra looking pissed and relating how Obidiah was the cause of everything being off, and was getting ready to let the Howler out on them all, they thinking she’d gone crazy, but she adamant of Obi’s intentions being ill and making clear, bugbears were impossible to deceive.

Gabe questions further on Obi’s attitudes being odd recently, the critters confirming he’d been acting ill when the nightmare had left, but was working even harder as of lately, Obi agreeing he’d been getting too tired from work and pled to be released from Myra’s grip. Gabe then agrees Obi should be let down, but surprises everyone by bringing out his own weapon, Damien the demon then showing himself and looking pissed. As Gabe attempts to learn more about why Damien was turning up and seemingly trying to get closer to Michelle, Damien’s smart ass answers are getting on Gabe’s nerves, he making him pay for it with more pain. When Damien finally gives him a reason for the “Dark Lord’s” reason for tracking Michelle, Gabe is again thwarted by Damien’s resistance in divulging more. Gabe then tears Damien out of Obi, Gabe turning on the group of creatures to learn whom had figured out their close friend had been infested and no one stepping forward, Gabe properly pissed, and when inquiring if Myra had sensed any other demons about, she confirming there were none.

Then Obi describes how he hadn’t any control over himself and what it had felt like, not recalling much of anything whilst he’d been overtaken. Hank then elaborates about the caves nearby when Gabe considers how quickly the demons seemed to be able to return upon his sending them to hell, and demands Obi show him to this “not much sink” cave. Gabe then explains how hellmouths work and the one in the cave being shut could waylay a demon fairly well. After Obi shows where the cave was, he meekly asks to go, since he didn’t want to tempt another demon with his bod, Gabe agreeing to this, he then divvying out tasks for the other creatures whilst he dealt with what was within the cave, the one for Eustace being hilarious and adorably simple.

Marshall notes his tone to Eustace, but Gabe dismisses him what with not feeling he should have to keep an eye on him for he not being a fighter, Marshall and Myra following him deeper into the cave. Soon they approach an orange oozing mess from their high vantage point, Myra stating of it most likely being part of the cause for the odd senses she’d gotten from the place. Gabe then suggests Myra help him deal with some demons whilst Marshall brought along some buddy birds to draw attention, a view of an oddly shaped hole with what look like teeth coming out of the ground shown, which then reveals why a hellmouth is named as such. Myra is hella happy to do her duty and Gabe encourages her to do so, since some demons were currently taking the opportunity to crawl into the world, Marshall using his birdy friends to distract them as Myra walks up, big bear form ready to do some damage.

As Myra baits one of the creatures, Gabe stabs the other and takes a smoke break, the crows, meanwhile, do their job of flying about, but many also get too close to the teeth and are smushed. Gabe then steps up to attempt another phrase in whatever language which is shown, chopping at the hellmouth head right after another demon comes out, whom apparently was a bunch of other demons’ distractions, but fortunately, Gabe commands Marshall to continue his attack at the mullet demon and Myra informs Gabe of their coming,  so he begins saying some more magic speak. Damien had returned once more, and his buddy Mikhail upon seeing Myra, ditches the crew when one of the others suggest they attack them, but Myra gets up in Mikhail’s face as he explains how he didn’t want to fool around with her or Gabe. As Myra has the demon in a bear hug, another demon is looking irritated about their hellmouth dying, but as Gabe is fighting another, the little demon pushes Gabe into the hellmouth as it makes one last roar of defeat (to be fair, I’m feeling a little badly for the hellmouth, it didn’t do nuffin’ and Gabe takes him out easy as lemon meringue).

This new development pauses Myra and Marshall, but they then see Gabe’s spear pierce through the hellmouth, and when he emerges looking grim, one out of three of the demons have booked it, the other two standing and staring in shock. This definitely doesn’t help the two though, since Gabe lets out his anger and envelops them in holy light, Myra properly impressed. Gabe turns on her and notifies of the demon she’d been cuddling had escaped, Mikhail still sprinting for freedom, and feeling close to success when seeing the outside, but upon climbing the rock face out, realizes his strolling out into the world won’t be so cut and dry. As Gabe, Marshall, and Myra rush off after him, Eustace is looking pleased and gives props for Gabe having thought to give him his coat to hold, this being the item which had recaptured Mikhail (who has a multiple way of spelling his name, apparently), and Eustace not catching the look of surprise on his face. As Mikhail pleads for Gabe to let him stay, the latter gives him the opportunity to make himself useful with the need for information, but Mikhail has none to offer, so Gabe takes him out. He then relates now the hellmouth was closed in the area, the demons would have a more difficult time coming back, and wouldn’t be able to do so anywhere near Dogpatch. Eustace and Marshall also inquire if Michelle was still in danger, Gabe’s answer not a comforting one, and when Myra states she still didn’t understand Gabe, he was cool with it.

Another interesting episode, and onward I go!

 

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Castle Waiting (Issue #1, Bone Crossover)

Image result for castle waiting issue #1 book cover

 

I had said in a previous post how I was interested in reading more from this series, and it looks as if I now have the ability, the first issue having been included in the collection of Bone I have, ha ha! Success!

The story follows a princess, whom runs away from home and holes up in a desolate un-remembered castle. This story, called Solicitine Part One, opens with a goose-looking face-masked doctor ordering someone to be still, the person flinching with fear and getting hurt in the process. Then it’s shown the doctor was cutting a boy’s hair and apparently could not make it through the process without the doctor clipping his ears a bit, the doctor not taking the blame and saying the boy had unusually large ears to begin with. His mother attempts to support the boy by suggesting he do his best to stay still, another goose-fellow, Rackham noting how rainy it was, and Jain would now have to wait longer to get her new room, she complacent with this fact. Jain declares how wet days were perfect for haircut scheduling, and the boy, Pin had been requiring one, the two then discussing how similar he was to his father. Jain is then shocked by a woman whom she didn’t notice at first had facial hair, the bearded woman asking her if she planned on getting her haircut next, Jain having a double-take which the lady states how she’d get a kick out of the face she was pulling if she could see it. Jain recovers and laughs at herself, the woman declaring she must not know of the Solicitine nuns, Jain agreeing, having thought bearded women stuck with the circus crowd.

The woman states of having been with a circus, as well, Jain ready to hear a good story about it as the woman readied to get her hair cut, she agreeable to giving her background, and starting with her home village, in a town where the only pub being owned by her father, Tom Warren, she being christened Peaceful Hortense Elaine Warren, and helping him in the pub when she was learned to walk and could carry drinks. As she got older, she stuck with her idea of taking after her father and planned on running the pub, her mother certain she wouldn’t be allowed for eventually getting married and keeping house, Peaceful certain her husband could keep the house whilst she ran the pub. Her father would attempt to calm her mother down, he believing she was fine where she was and working at the pub would put her out there to potential mates, her mother not thinking her daughter’s plan was realistic. Peaceful certainly had plenty of men flocking to the place, and all of them were happy to socialize with her, the only problem was they spoke to her as a buddy of there girl problems, she helping them out with advice and gathering a loyal following of men who took her advice and found success. Then, one day, Peaceful noticed some fuzz on her face, and it would always grow back, her mother distraught of her fate now sealed on remaining single. Fortunately, the new addition to her looks didn’t stay a surprise to the men who came in, they quickly resuming their usual respects to her, until a couple travelers couldn’t get over seeing a bearded woman outside a circus.

Peaceful was shocked to learn bearded ladies worked in other forums, not having gone to a circus before, she attracted to the idea from this point forward, imagining how interesting it would be to travel elsewhere, she keeping it in mind until overhearing from some other travelers of a show setting up in a town not too far away, she taking advantage of the distance and leaving the same night. Jain is shocked how quickly Peaceful did what she’d wanted, the latter agreeing her resolve may have changed if she’d spoken with her father first, but she had visited since then and they were the same as they had been. When Peaceful gets to the circus and a friendly worker allows her to see a show of what bearded lady they had as their show-runner looked like, she views the woman in a Cleopatra get-up and would have been a hard act to over-run, she also being the owner’s wife. Peaceful realizes she didn’t have a chance, she then introducing herself when the worker asks, she inquiring whether there was other work she could get hired for, Reggie Aleman remembering how his wife had been after him to get a girl to help around with their tent, Peace realizing this could be a good situation for all involved. So, ironically she became a barmaid once more, in the circus, but she moving up quickly enough, the interesting side to her work being to check out the gaming tables, she having a good eye for the gamer’s sleight of hand, Reggie having her start training quite abruptly. Peace was quickly brought in to the fold of the close family relationship people had being in the circus, except for the owner Lint and his wife, she having to stay separated from everyone else on Lint’s orders.

One day though, as Peace was sweeping up outside, she’s approached by Lint’s wife, whom was happily surprised to see another bearded woman around, Peace shocked she spoke English because of her act being Egyptian, the woman stating Lint had made it up for her, she introducing herself as Mabel and confessing Peace was the first bearded lady she’d met, Peace saying the same, and then Mabel deciding they should be best friends, Peace agreeing. Lint then walks up, and acting all high and mighty, attempts to quash the friendship, but Mabel wasn’t going to give in quite so easily to this one, he backing off and instead stating she should get inside a half an hour before customers milled about. From then on, Peace and Mabel, whom she called Nessie, a nickname from her stage name, were thick as thieves, Peace now having a confidante, and when confiding to Nessie of how her work wasn’t as satisfying anymore, Nessie certain it’s because she didn’t have a husband, Peace getting an example how wrong she was when a man walked in asking for her advice. Peace wouldn’t have been opposed to a little courting, though, so when she’d seen Reggie turn away a young man whom had been interested in Nessie, Peace got a little hot over how he hadn’t thought to introduce her, Reggie taken aback for a moment, but then explaining how Nessie was a special sort, Peace noting this, as well.

Nessie soon shares the problem she was currently having with Lint, he having promised Nessie and her father his plan to settle down with her and begin a family, but now he wouldn’t even entertain the idea to speak of it with her, she not even getting a chance to talk with him when the circus closed, since they were occupying separate wagons. Peace convinces her she should insist speaking with him one night, Nessie empowered and planning to do so, but overhearing a conversation between Lint and a girl about his true feelings about her and she only being used for lucrative interests. Nessie, upset goes to Peace, whom was on duty, but directs Nessie to meet her in back, concerned by her pain, and was livid when Nessie confides what she’d heard, Peace declaring Nessie shouldn’t be doing her show, but would think of a solid plan, having Nessie pretend everything was fine until she did. Nessie now comforted, goes back to her wagon, a plan soon coming in the form of two men wanting to speak with Peace one night, they thinking she knew of the Abbess at St. Wilgeforte’s, the two explaining what the convent did. Peace brought this good news to a much elated Nessie, the former planning on they making their escape as the circus moved on, she feeling some guilt for planning to leave again without warning Reggie, like how she had with her father, but finishes helping pack up for Reggie on the day she scheduled them to run off. Peace then joins Nessie in her wagon, she having difficulty leaving her pretty dress, Peace lightening her mood so she’d let it go. Nessie pretends to be sick when Lint runs into her, successfully leaving without suspicion, unfortunately, Peace’s escape had been witnessed by Lint’s dumb girlfriend, but she not speaking up quickly, so they not getting any trouble until later on.

Not a bad beginning, especially upon realizing Castle Waiting follows the progression of a community for about three decades, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, except not as dark and obviously not so many years. This story is based on the Brother’s Grimm story, St. Solicitous. Then, the short of Bone’s and Castle Waiting is next!

The Bones are lost again, Phoney complaining about missing his cash, since all anyone ever used were eggs. Smiley then points out the sign with Castle Waiting on it, Phoney seeing the bright side of royalty of a castle definitely working with more than poultry for bartering. Phoney makes a racket as he insists on speaking with a king, a horse, Sir Chess, the Knight Destrier opening the door and not understanding what he was going on about. Phoney busts in and looks for someone kingly, he asking a beaked fellow, Rackham the Adjutant if he was the one they were looking for and requiring assistance. Rackham allows they could definitely help in some way, then offering tea and snacks, Fone politely grateful, but then getting tickled by polterspritz as Phoney asks for cash so they could return home. Rackham ponders their issue and eventually suggests they could do odd jobs until making enough to get back, Phoney making certain they paid in bills (not of the bird nature, HA! No pun intended), and became quite upset when discovering they also used eggs, since they were in the country. Phoney urges the other two off and running, Rackham wondering if they would have changed their minds if they’d known he was referring to gold eggs, Chess certain it wouldn’t have, they must not liking breakfast-related foods.

Not a bad side-story, at all! I’ll be looking forward to reading more, once finishing my other graphic novel needs. Now to continue with Rose.

Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails (Issue 1-3)

 

So I said I’d be continuing the Bone series immediately, but it turns out there’s a side story to read, which apparently involves the Founder of Boneville, Big Johnson Bone (great name). Big Johnson, before he discovered Rolling Bone River on his adventures as a frontier hero, is currently happy to be on the road, his companion bringing to light of he having been kicked out of town, so not having much choice, the other speaker being a monkey, Mr. Pip whom was riding atop a donkey, and had won him in a card game, Mr. Pip accused Johnson of having cheated. Johnson denies this, stating it was luck which had made his hand a winner, but Mr. Pip had seen a card fall from his sleeve, Johnson clarifying by relating a rambling story of why this had occurred, but by the time he’d finished, the monkey and donkey were asleep. The next day, Johnson is relating another tale of asparagus, when Mr. Pip notices Johnson seemed to be drawing a map, he explaining of how he could draw a map of somewhere they hadn’t been yet rather than helping them return to where they were, he being a great explorer and when being accused a liar, makes one of those statements which one would demand retribution from a higher power to strike them down, Johnson asking for a twister, and actually getting one. Johnson makes himself useful, though when they’re caught up in the twister by getting a hold of a tree trunk and grabbing hold, commanding Mr. Pip and donkey to do likewise and ride out the storm. They soon get spit out of the twister, Johnson claiming to have been done with the ride anyways, and the three landing near some rat creatures. They run off, with the rat creatures in hot pursuit, Mr. Pip in woe to his fate (I am noticing the change in writing since it isn’t Smith this time, it’s only slightly annoying, but since the story moves along, it’s fairly ignorable). The rat creatures lose the group though, and the two decide to go back to wait for more mammals to fall from the sky. After realizing the creatures were no longer chasing them, Johnson attempts to orient himself to his surroundings, and is blown away by the beautiful sight of a place unknown. Mr. Pip hears something rustling and gets scared, but Johnson, being sick of running, whips out a dagger to defend them with, but uncovers a family of mice whom talk a lot of breakfast and whether Johnson had appeared because of Lily’s wish. Johnson is soon bombarded by many questions, starting with whom Johnson was and then repeating whether he was there to save them like Lily had wished, Johnson asking what they could need saving from in a beautiful place like their home, they all leading him to someone called Stillman, whom would explain the situation. They soon meet other creatures of the forest, everyone asking about where he’d come from and whether Johnson would save them when Stillman makes his appearance known by dropping a rock on Johnson’s head and commanding he leave, the creatures of the forest sticking up for Johnson, he asking why Stillman was throwing rocks when he could be breathing fire, Stillman explaining of the fire reflux he had upon trying, making himself ill. Johnson empathizing the unfortunateness of Stillman’s situation and then learns why the forest critters needed saving, Stillman relaying it being caused by the rat creatures attempting to expand their territory and eating the younger animals parents. Johnson then considers if these rat creatures were one and the same to those who had chased him and his companions, Johnson deciding to peace pipe for a moment and have a think on a way to help everyone out of the rat creature problem. A view of the rat creature Queen conversing with one of her subjects of being groomed and the loss of her husband to bad pork. Then the two rat creatures who had run into Bone and group came in to inform their Queen of the creatures falling from the sky and their escape, she commanding a party to be made to discover them and bring them back to her. As the rat creatures searched, Johnson was telling another yarn about trapping critters and being the best, which was similar to what the rat creatures were doing, but he explaining the main differentiation between himself and the rat creatures was he was going to help the animals defeat the rat creatures, they watching on the group around their campfire. Stillman then makes the point of the group being better off waiting for the dragon council to restate a new protector of the forest before Johnson brought them to war with the rat creatures, but Johnson being adamant they needed to act first, the rat creatures agreeing and stepping into the light, Johnson relating this experience to be like another with mountain lions, this issue ending. So, it moves along, but it does get repetitive with the rambling anecdotes of Johnson; I prefer Jeff Smith, thank you, but as a completist, I will be finishing due to the series only including three parts. So away on to the next!

 

 

Big Johnson is relating his story of mountain lions as he begins to kick rat creatures’ booty. Other creatures who have cornered some of the young critters, before closing in further hear cries of pain, which stops them, they looking around to identify where the sounds are coming from. They see what’s happening to their comrades, they being tossed around by their tails, the critters shouting to Big Johnson words of encouragement. Stillman is struggling with not doing anything to help and so decides on dropping a rock on the rat creatures, but it backfires by hitting Johnson on the head, freeing the rat creature, and all deciding to retreat, but not empty-handed, grabbing two critters of the forest before leaving. When the rat creatures relate what had happened to them, the Queen decides to recruit her son to deal with Johnson. Meanwhile Johnson was coming to his senses, sort of, and talking of the handy uses the rat creatures bodies could be used for to make some cash. Johnson then describes a plan where everyone would be able to help rescue the two young animals, Mr. Pip thinking he’d cracked how Johnson had a story for everything, including how he’d lost and regained his sanity, which he did, but Mr. Pip’s idea was a bit different from the real story. The animals were quite scared of going to fight the rat creatures though, so Johnson tries to remember the last time he’d been afraid, unable to do so, but knowing at some point he had, and attempted to comfort them with encouraging words. One animal gets motivated, and decides to go along, back to Queen Maud for her speech to her people and how she was going to need their assistance is then shown. The rat creatures run off to do her bidding, the Queen’s son, stuck somehow and trying to struggle loose so he can come along too. In the forest, another animal is now bent on tagging along, as well, stressing Stillman with the madness of the situation. Johnson decides Mr. Pip would stay with Stillman and the other animals to relate his story if anything happened which wasn’t planned, Pip agreeing. As Johnson and group walked, they inquired of his other adventures, Johnson obliging, and whilst he continued to describe a scary story, some rat creatures had begun trailing them and gave themselves away with getting spooked by the story. The rat creatures run off, Johnson after them, but he runs into the Queen’s son, he a big’n, asking if they were the creatures his mama had told him about which were giving her headaches. Meanwhile, Stillman was still beating himself up about being a failure at his job, Pip trying to quiet him for not being able to do anything about it now. Stillman has grown some courage though, and decides to attempt to do his job properly, leaving the camp, the donkey going after him with Pip complaining of breaking the promise they’d made to Johnson to stay and relate his story, he riding atop the donkey. Back to Johnson whom was convincing the big rat creature, Tyson of they not being mammals, Tyson believing him and leaving the message if they were to run into the mammals to let them know of he coming for them. Johnson and group are almost home free when some other rat creatures rat them out. Tyson grabs them, but then Stillman has caught up and actually makes his aim when he lobs another rock at a rat creature, but not in time before Tyson consumes Johnson and the rest, Mr. Pip trying to interest the rat creatures in a pet: himself. This installment was a little less annoying, so I’m glad to report I’m not as hesitant to finish the last.

 

Tyson is currently having some issues with a tummy ache and being scolded for not chewing before consuming. The rat creature guards were then leading the captured, Mr. Pip, Stillman, and donkey to having a word with the Queen before they shared the same fate as their friends, Stillman again giving himself a hard time, and Mr. Pip contemplating a position as cook for the rat creatures. When they meet the Queen, she shuts Mr. Pip down on the front of he being another servant, so he plays to her ego, but all it does is help her decide in which order she would eat them, then scolding Tyson some more about he needing to learn to chew if he was ever going to be king. What’s happened with Big Johnson and the others is given, they being in the throat hole still, and Johnson deciding the only way out was down. Mr. Pip and gang were in the pantry, of course, they a bit disappointed by Stillman not being able to save them, he again accepting his failure wholeheartedly. Pip was stressing how he hadn’t won the Queen over, the rat creatures advising them to stop worrying, for tainting their meaty flavors, and what they had in store for the rest of the forest being similar. This prospect must have made Stillman ill, since next is the rat creatures crispy and in shock Stillman could breathe fire, Pip being faced away from them and complaining of the noise for attempting to figure a way out. Meanwhile Johnson is relating another story of how slippery another experience he had was in comparison of their current surroundings not being as bad, the area rumbling, and Tyson announcing of not feeling well, still. The doctor is sent for, whom gives guesses as to what could be ailing Tyson, seeing inside his stomach again to view Johnson and kids still falling, until hitting the juicy bottom and being met with more creatures on the “shore”, they being the parents of the orphaned children, a happy reunion ensuing. Stillman is now going off to confront the Queen, viewing she is still pleading with the doctor for a diagnosis, then being interrupted by one of her minions. He reports of Stillman escaping, he coming right to them, but then realizing how many rat creatures he was soon to be dealing with, the doctor trying to coax out any wood elves which may be causing Tyson’s problem. Johnson is now trying to rally the group into building a fire, due to he being chilled, they making a honking bonfire, one of the kids even locating a musical instrument, Johnson ready to rock. Tyson is feeling the heat and the doctor then hears singing, thinking the culprit is fire sprites, Tyson now becoming sick to his stomach, he hurling Johnson and group out, Stillman being urged to blast some fire at the Queen, Tyson then attempting to defend her. Johnson has the idea to have the donkey run up Tyson’s tail, the same idea as before, to use Tyson’s “rudder” in his favor. When Tyson passes out from his doing a partial removal of his own body, the Queen believes Johnson wouldn’t dare to do anything similar to her, Johnson admiring her fur coat. The group leaves and they inquire of where Johnson would go, they wanting him to stay as their protector, but he reminding them of Stillman’s usefulness, and he needing to see more of the world. As the animals discuss how events could have turned out without Johnson having been there, Stillman then defends himself after hearing another downside, upon turning around, realizing it was the dragon from the high council, Red Dragon. Red Dragon then decides Stillman was doing a fine job and appointed him his position again, officially, Stillman ready for the challenge. The Queen is then speaking with her subjects of how the new decree of tail-cutting-off day would be implemented and the reason being caused by Johnson and his usage of them. Johnson is relating his tale to a visitor in his trade shop, and discovering how he’d purchased it and had Mr. Pip running it, the man seeing his new head wear, and Johnson saying farewell to continue adventuring. A fit ending since we now know why the rat creatures go around without tails, this shaped up to be a fairly decent story.

We then get the Bone: Holiday Special Premiere Edition, which is a fun one. Now, back to the main story!

Bone Vol. 7: Ghost Circles

For the 6th volume. We begin with Ted waking Jonathan to learn what has been going on, Ted realizing the news Jonathan had, wasn’t good and learning Lucius had done something which endangered Gran’ma Ben and Phoney Bone. Ted then discovers Jonathan had seen something questionable happen which made him think this, and Ted reasoning there must be a viable answer for it, the bug then easing Jonathan’s mind on he telling the Stick-eater Headmaster of what he’d seen. We then see Wendell being summoned to the main gate by the Headmaster due to tremors getting more noticeable, the Headmaster noting how he spoke, his conduct disclosing his obvious feelings about the Stick-eaters and how Lucius wasn’t one of them, the orders of the monks not coinciding with his own goals and being too hung up on Rose and devoted to her and her sister, Briar. This leads into Wendell discussing  with the Stick-eater about the disappearance of Gran’ma Ben and Phoney, the reason for the war beginning, and their disappearances lying on Phoney’s head, to which the Stick-eater discusses why his notion is ludicrous. The Stick-eater then shows Wendell the crest of the Harvestar family, he not recognizing it but being told of the purpose of the current keepers of “the source”, Wendell then uncovering how serious the legend of the Lord of the Locusts actually was. When they hear an explosion, the attack begins, Wendell being told to go and lead the villagers whilst the Stick-eater Headmaster took care of business on his end. We then get a close up of the destruction occurring at the mountain, seeing Gran’ma Ben leading Thorn and the Bones through the exploding rocks. When Fone almost gets crushed by a statue, he realizes they are going the wrong way, even though they were heading down, but then they are confronted by Kingdok, Thorn looking straight at him until Gran’ma Ben pushes her and Fone out of the way, Kingdok trying to bite them and getting a mouthful of rubble. They all get behind another statue and Gran’ma Ben uses it to throw at Kingdok, he busy spouting death threats.

They all retreat as Kingdok continues his pursuit, Fone looking for a secret passage which will get them down the mountain safely, Phoney thinking he’s crazy and Smiley the one to discover it, everyone piling in before Kingdok can lunge at them again, Gran’ma Ben offering to hold off Kingdok, but Phoney hearing something in the tunnel, they having no choice but to continue, and Fone remembering and warning everyone of how the tunnel had made them hallucinate the first time around, Gran’ma Ben knowing this for having been there before, as well. Thorn is first to speak up about leading them deeper through the tunnel, Gran’ma Ben advising the Bones to get ready to run, she grabbing them as she let Kingdok’s face push through. Another explosion gets Kingdok’s attention and then we see the fighting amongst the rat creatures, villagers, and Stick-eaters. The Stick-eater Headmaster is ordering one of his men to deal with a gathering of enemies when they see the explosion on the mountain, his orders changing to get as many villagers and men into a cave, knowing there won’t be time for proper refuge from the danger to come. We then see Briar being revived by the Lord of the Locusts and learning she had configured their powers incorrectly, losing part of them and being told to fix her mistake. Meanwhile the Bones are continuing down the stairs of the passage and wondering if they’d missed a turn for having been walking awhile, Fone starting to notice he and his cousins were starting to take on the personalities of the characters in Moby Dick, soon realizing he’s sharing the hallucination with the other Bones. Gran’ma Ben then calls them further down where Thorn has collapsed and is ice cold despite the extreme heat they were all feeling and we find she had seen Thorn being invaded by the locusts and confiding in the Bones of this.

When Thorn revives and shares of speaking with the Lord of the Locusts, Gran’ma Ben relates to this story by confessing of how she had the same experience many years before (the details of which are in Rose and isn’t needed to complete this volume). She relates of following her sister to the cave and being confronted by the Lord of the Locusts, Thorn finishing for her by supplying what he’d been searching for, she being saved by Fone before the Lord of the Locusts had found her dreaming power source. Thorn then shares with Gran’ma Ben of a mistake regarding her sister’s abilities, they heading for a light source up ahead which turns out to be the end of the tunnel, they thinking it was snowing until realizing they are seeing ashes in the wind and everything’s gone. Thorn then speaks of only some of the destruction being real, Briar having used many ghost circles to give the illusion of everything being destroyed, sharing with them of she able of seeing where they must walk, but having to follow her exactly, failing to do so would mean the walker being gone forever. Fone asks how Thorn would reverse the changes, she unsure, but knowing it’s possible for how Fone had given her the charm necessary to repel the Lord of the Locusts and she having the missing powers Briar is searching for. As the Bones follow Gran’ma and Thorn, they argue about whether they believe the ladies about the ghost circles and all the fantastical creatures mentioned, Fone not interested in rocking the boat, especially when he and his cousins were attired like his Moby Dick dream. Phoney then lays into Fone about how he consistently seemed to come up with a reason why they couldn’t escape and go home, he making Fone promise the next time he figures a way out, he’ll drop everything and come with him, Fone reluctantly agreeing.

Meanwhile Gran’ma Ben reaches the spot she’d left Lucius and is becoming upset about not seeing him there, Thorn trying to calm her by speaking of the possibility she may still be able to help him, she attempting to see if she could sense him, but when it fails, has a vivid vision with Fone there, he seeing a new place and Thorn warning him to stay close to her, they finally returning to the others, Gran’ma Ben is relieved to hear of the trees surrounding them since she had left Lucius elsewhere. They then go toward the spring Thorn had noticed and stop for the night for Phoney requesting desperately for a break. Smiley then speaks frankly to Fone about whether he was feeling homesick and how they didn’t have to listen to Phoney all the time due to his usually being wrong, Fone seeming to be surprised by Smiley’s insight. Smiley going on to mention how even though Fone believed dreams didn’t mean anything, Smiley saw Fone react as if he’d dreamt something and told the others of Thorn being alright when she’d still been lost. Fone dismisses this and goes to sleep, dreaming of being in the middle of the ocean on a casket, and sinking under water. Fone then sees a large body, it coming into focus as being the Red Dragon, Fone attempting to get his attention and failing, the Dragon opening his mouth to yawn and inhaling Fone, we soon only seeing a spark.

Fone awakens to everyone gone, but is called to by Smiley whom was bathing, then mentioning Phoney had woken without his pirate look. Fone then has a bad feeling of Thorn being in danger, but Phoney trying to calm him, mentioning where she was and how she and Gran’ma Ben had argued about where they should head, Thorn thinking back to Old Man’s Cave, it having less ghost circles than going south, Gran’ma Ben wanting to head south. Neither Gran’ma Ben nor Thorn could pick up anything from the veiled world, Thorn only noticing the ghost circles seemed to be spreading. She then describes what the ghost circles signified, it having to do with the dreaming and the real world getting mixed. Fone then asking how the piece of the locust inside Thorn could be removed, which leads into why Gran’ma Ben wanted to head south to Atheia, where help could be found. Gran’ma Ben is still attempting to discover signs of life from the villagers, but soon hears sounds on the other side of a ridge, everyone seeing it was a slew of rat creatures. Due to where they were headed and they not having noticed Thorn and gang, they would now have to head south, Phoney agreeing, and assuring Smiley it didn’t matter if it took them further away from Boneville (giving the sense the little grifter had a devious plan), Phoney sharing quietly what he was thinking with Smiley.

As the group then discusses whether the rat creatures may have actually noticed them, they run right into them. As they attempt escape, Thorn and Fone get separated from Gran’ma Ben, Phoney, and Smiley, but Smiley then sees someone whom makes him smile. We then seeing Thorn and Fone trapped at the edge of a cliff, Thorn threatening to kill the Hooded One, she of course dead already, but sharing of how two would be needed to help the Lord of the Locust, Thorn not wanting to take part, and Briar attempting to convince her of the good she could do with the power it would give her, then confessing how her parents were responsible for her death and how they had actually died, then confiding when they would perform the ritual. As Fone defends Thorn though, it is revealed he also had a piece of the Locust within him which meant she no longer needed Thorn, but as Briar seemed about to do something terrible, she’s bum rushed by Smiley on a rat creature. The group now reunited, Thorn is thrown on Bartleby with Smiley as the rest ran after, Thorn stating she’d be able to lead them through the ghost circles as the herd of rat creatures again headed towards them.

As they traveled down a dune, Thorn describes their current route being filled with ghost circles and would need to slow down so they could navigate through them, which they implement as they see rat creatures disappearing due to stepping in the wrong spots. They stop after some distance, Thorn wanting to take a break, but Phoney eager to push on for thinking they weren’t quite safe yet, the group moving once more. We then see Wendell picking up robes nearby a bunch of dead, then being called since the group had found Lucius, he being carried and they describing how and where they’d found him. Wendell wakes Lucius, whom’s memories are hazy after the blast, after deducing Jonathan not being as fine as Wendell made it seem, they then being approached by the Stick-eaters, the Headmaster wanting to know if Lucius knew where Thorn and Rose were, he not knowing, but did know where they’d go if they had survived, the Headmaster not seeing the logic behind it, regardless of it being the place of their throne and believing Atheia was deserted, then stating Lucius was an enemy of the royals and to place guards outside the infirmary.

We then see Thorn and group still on their trek across deserted land, Thorn stopping them for the ghost circles getting thicker, she thinking it would be the opposite as they got closer. Phoney decides they were breaking, and it soon leads to him accusing Fone of being the cause of the trouble, the rat creatures not even going after the others anymore, only Fone, Smiley shocking the two with his electric fingers, then Gran’ma Ben interrupting Phoney’s revelation of they being chased because of what the Hooded One had said of only needing Fone for the ritual, to let them know of the new path they would walk. Gran’ma Ben deciding she’ll bring up the rear, for now being suspicious of Fone’s part which could be played, and everyone walking a longer, but safer way around to Atheia. Bartleby then informs Fone of Smiley falling, Thorn warning him to be careful not to fall into ghost circles already avoided as he rushes to aid him. When they reach Smiley, he indicates his fall was due to “taco”, he being hungry, of course. Phoney then comes up with the idea of Thorn and one other should go into a ghost circle to search for food, she considering the idea, Fone offering to go with her again and the two going in before logic set in, they near a farmhouse and Thorn sensing a family within, not alive but moving, they grabbing fruits, but then Thorn hears a sound, she figuring it was the family, which spooks her and drags Fone away, but too quickly since he dropped their loot.

Thorn continues to hear the dead call to her for help, then relaying a message from her mother, also warning her of how to extract the locust piece from Fone and of the Hooded One being close. Thorn and Fone escape before the Hooded One gets near, and then we see Lucius getting a visit from Wendell, they discussing the Headmaster being stubborn on moving the camp and whether the villagers were willing to travel to meet the Atheians. Wendell then begins asking Lucius of his connection to Rose and her sister and whom he’d been with when he was found by Jonathan. Lucius admits his story from his youth when he’d fallen for one of the sisters, and after Wendell spoke of his concerns, Lucius decided they were going to leave. We then hear from Bartleby speaking of the rat creatures superstitions about their tails and other parts of them which were medically altered, Fone inquiring what had happened when Bartleby had returned to them, the rat creatures shunning him due to believing he wouldn’t eat the Bones and group when it was necessary, he admitting the truth to the statement, Thorn then collapsing and Gran’ma Ben reassuring of they finally reaching where the ghost circles thinned. Fone is ready for them to go through Tanen Gard in order to reach the people who can help Thorn, then being more wary when Gran’ma Ben mentions of  the trespassing penalties if caught; it being of a serious nature.

Thorn is becoming weaker as they journey on, Fone mentioning to Gran’ma Ben of what he felt when Thorn had returned them, Gran’ma Ben trying to push them more quickly, especially after Thorn mentions of the Hooded One coming. As Phoney and Smiley struggle to follow Fone, Gran’ma Ben, and Thorn, Smiley mentions how he felt ill at ease and likening it to a story of their youths when Phoney had prompted Smiley to steal pies off of windowsills, they going through the dragon graveyard feeling similarly wrong. Fone then runs to them to share the news of discovering a way across the possibly bottomless crevasse, when the ground begins to shake. Bartleby recognizes the smell first and shouts of dragons coming from the pit, everyone rushing to the slim way across, Fone being the first to slip, but being caught by Thorn, whom at first had to be carried by Gran’ma Ben, but she relaying how she was starting to feel better due to Tanen Gard, they continuing across. When they get across, which is also the end of Tanen Gard, Thorn mentions of they being clear of ghost circles and the hope of the villager survivors making their way to Atheia since she still couldn’t sense Old Man’s Cave. We then see Wendell leading the villagers toward the Stick-eater guarding Lucius, they disarming him. The Headmaster meets Lucius as he’s walking out of his cell, he again mentioning of only destruction anywhere else and they being safe there. After Lucius shares how he can’t understand why they were protecting their brotherhood when everyone was going to die anyways, the Headmaster shows his face, and finally agrees to accompany them to the Old Kingdom. We then see Kingdok surrounded by darkness and walking somewhere. Gran’ma Ben is guiding the group to higher ground for a better view of where they were heading. When they reach the top, Gran’ma Ben breaks down how long it would take them to reach Atheia and what they could have in store with two days out with no cover. Smiley and Phoney have a little quarrel which Bartleby concludes by confessing of Smiley being “aces”; this volume coming to a close and making me start the next, immediately! If my statement isn’t a testament of the staying power and greatness of this series, then I’ll be blunt: It’s quite good and if other readers have made it this far there’s no sense in stopping now.

Bone: Trilogy Tour II – Rose

trilogy-tour-ii

For the sixth volume. I found this story should probably be read after the 7th volume, but doesn’t really hurt anything, only makes the flashbacks of Rose flow a little better. This seems to be a background story for Rose which has us start with seeing her coming back for her dogs who are glad to see her, she being pleased they’d obeyed her orders to stay where she left them and giving them a treat, the Red Dragon appearing to tell her she must get back to what she’d been originally meant to be doing with her time. Rose gives in after defending her reason for being out, the dogs sad to leave their bones behind, but the three going off, Rose wondering why she was sent on this quest by her mother, she then seeing Briar, her sister going up the side of a mountain and deciding she should follow her to see where she was going, even though Briar was supposed to be attending a class with Rose. Rose is noticed before long and chases after her despite the terrifying omen of shouting for her to flee which she ignores and is soon overcome by locusts, deciding she’ll continue forward to discover what was going on and this being where the story ends, but most likely will continue in another volume. Before completely finishing the side-story, we get a two page throw-away of Phoney Bone and Smiley in which Phoney asks why the townspeople don’t like him and Smiley believing it had to do with his unabashed love of greed and Phoney and Smiley coming up with ideas of how they could get the townspeople to admit they either loved greed or at least could warm up to it, the two believing a political party or religion centering around greed would work, but abandoning the idea in the end leaving us with the idea of the irony of their plan.

Castle Waiting is a separate comic, beginning with a nun on a picnic visiting a grave and being interrupted by an imp from Hell masquerading as someone she’d known, until she’d figured out it was a trick, the little demon going on to argue how similar they were, and she shouldn’t be so up in arms around him, whilst she offers a type of cookie not common in his fiery home. After being certain there wasn’t anything holy in the ingredients, he munches gladly and then offers to walk her to her vehicle, the nun then wondering how the creature could be walking on hallowed earth, the imp stating how it wasn’t as off-limits as it seemed and could even foot through her church if he so desired, she wondering why he didn’t then, and upon the imp learning he wasn’t barred, getting a wink as she bikes away, he calling it “a date”, and poofing into nothingness. Iiiinteresting, I may have to look further into this.

Scary Godmother begins with a little girl, Hannah Marie, her scary godmother, and the two hosting a tea party, a little boy, Orson, spying on what they were up to with a bear called Harry. Orson wanted to join in, but Harry holds him back for believing it was only for the females, since his mother had stopped him from eating the finger sammies she’d been preparing, Harry left to fend for his own tummy. Then, upon Orson hearing about the best shrimp puffs and the one man allowed to attend having arrived, he insists they figure a way to get invited, Harry not wanting to miss the “boo-fay”. Hannah Marie is then prompted to share a story as Mr. Pettibone grabs the door, Harry and Orson masquerading as exterminators and offering a limited time offer to dust the bugs, but Pettibone declares it’s unnecessary, due to another attendee having already taken care of this. The two resort to attempting to get through an outside window, but fail to make it, Orson greeting his father as the two sat, forlorn under a tree to admit their want. His father suggest he ask, Orson going for it, and Mr. Pettibone immediately allowing them entry after sprucing up their outfits, Orson now more interested in the party games then the snackies, but Harry staying focused on the plentiful variety of yum-yums. As the two sit and listen to Hannah Marie’s story though, their resolve fades a bit with boredom along with the constant story-telling and chat, but Harry finally gets his mouth full, which keeps him content. Orson is bad mouthing the state of the stories he’d had to listen to, not realizing until too late Scary Godmother was listening, she unphased and offering he share the next story, Orson down for this, but then walking in to Harry getting into the story of a series, and starting with the first one, since Hannah Marie hadn’t heard of them, Orson dreading how long this would take, Harry successfully boring everyone to sleep, then contemplating his plan for pizza and if Scary Godmother had a running bill he could take advantage of, since the party hadn’t covered what they would do for supper. Weeks later, Scary Godmother is asking Skully if he remembered ordering a multi-hell-layered pizza, he denying able to stomach it. Entertaining, but not my cuppa, which was also covered at the tea party! Har Har!

Akiko was mentioned being a stand-alone, so those who didn’t know of it could be properly introduced to the main characters (hooray for me!) It begins with a child, Kiko and an oddly looking super-hero whom looks like Neil Gaiman, called Spuckler, in search of a Mr. Beeba, they discovering a path of books where he’d been, a robot, Gax bringing this to their attention. Kiko is certain he’s been kidnapped, but Spuckler isn’t sure Mr. Beeba had the foresight to unload such a perfect plan for them to locate him so easily, Kiko not arguing, only certain they needed to get to him quickly, running off. Mr. Beeba is then shown caught in a web and attempting to sweet talk a “monster” out of harming him. Kiko and Spuckler arrive outside a cave where the book trail ends, Spuckler insisting they needed a game plan before rushing in to a place where a large creature was mostly likely lurking, he having seen massive footprints. Spuckler relieves Gax of a sharp looking implement upon his robot-hood (near his neck, pervs!), and leads them inside, he warning them to hang back a bit, and rightly so, as he’s attempting to threaten the big fella into releasing Mr. Beeba, but instead getting entwined in the creatures tongue. Mr. Beeba confesses how much entertainment he’d gotten from Spuckler’s failure, they fortunately saved by Poog, a round face which sings unintelligible words, the creature lulled to sleep and everyone returning outside, Spuckler grateful, but relating how he’d like to discuss further a way to implement Poog’s talent upon requirement, so he didn’t look a fool next time. Not bad, I believe I’d read more if I had the means or was quite bored.

Usagi Yojimbo is about a ninja rabbit, Usagi, whom also guest appeared on The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show. Usagi is in this episode called, The Guardian, and immediately has to choose which path he will go down, allowing a butterfly to make the decision, and he following complacently. He walks on to see a samurai, he greeting him pleasantly, but when the fully armored samurai stays in his way, he learns of his leader preventing any “enemy” entry. When Usagi denies being an enemy, the guard relates of anyone not under the rule of his master was an enemy, and Usagi properly disgusted by this, decides to announce of locating another way to cross, unfortunately, the guard denies him this idea, since he could be going back to inform his friends of his leader’s defenses, Usagi confiding he was a ronin and traveled alone. This guard was on guard though, and declared of all enemies dying, Usagi backed into his metaphorical corner to the point of having to teach this fool a lesson, readying to fight. Usagi pulls a fast one, and jumps over the samurai into the water, believing his armor would prevent him quick pursuit, Usagi correct and slicing him, but as he’s retreating, the samurai returns a blow and states of not failing his leader again. Usagi next wakes to a couple of monkeys (literally a couple, they referring to each other as “husband” and “wife”) wondering if he had survived, soon learning this to be so as Usagi opens his eyes. He’s shocked to see he hadn’t been killed, and then can’t believe the bridge which had been guarded was years older and broken, the couple sharing how the civil wars had brought the bridge down, a samurai having caused enemies to get through and gave the general such a good fight, he almost lost, and in his rage, trashed the bridge and the ghost unable to leave his failed mission after death. The couple then asked why he hadn’t taken the newer bridge across the way and must have gone down the wrong path, Usagi blaming the butterfly and attempting to cut it down in anger, the two monkeys regarding him with confusion as he continued to attempt to split the butterfly. Now this is entertaining, I could definitely see myself reading more of these, if I can find them.

The final comic is a two-page Bone throwaway, Smiley and Phoney discussing why Phoney was so despised in the village, Smiley figuring it was because of Phoney’s blatant selfish greed. Phoney doesn’t buy this though, since in his mind, people understood greed and only couldn’t come to terms with it. The idea of if they were able to convince people they truly did love greed, they’d have them wrapped around their little finger, Smiley building on this by suggesting he turn it into a political party, so the people would love him because they’d be voting for him, Phoney taking it a step further and thinking a religion would work much better, then almost drooling with the thought of combining the two and having an uber-greed dual politico-religion. In the end though, disbelieving it could work and going back to washing dishes whilst Smiley dried. I loves ’em! Next is the cross-over of Castle Waiting and the Bones!

Bone Vol. 6: Old Man’s Cave

For the fifth volume. We discover Fone climbing a tree to get bearings as to where they were in the woods, Smiley waiting below. They’d been lost for days already and Fone still wasn’t familiar with the area, meanwhile Smiley is having trouble watching for Fone’s climb down due to a groundhog getting mad at Smiley for stepping on his home’s entrance, Fone having a moment to break his handhold and falling directly onto the groundhog. Ted the bug then finds Smiley as he’s trying to extricate Fone from his fall into the groundhog’s hole (ha ha) and Fone is as happy to see Ted, as well. The groundhog then overhears their happy reunion and who Fone was, getting scared since the rumor was Fone had killed Kingdok, he retreating inside, Ted then catching the Bones up on what had been going on, Fone getting angry with Phoney and they both being led by Ted back to where the village was.

We see Phoney in cover of the trees spying Thorn helping a family escape the burning village, meeting the rest in the brush before two groups of rat creatures approach from two sides of the clearing and everyone hiding in the darkness of the trees hoping not to be seen. The two rat creature group leaders speak of the news about Kingdok, one group leader not knowing the most recent news being of his death. The two group leaders then digress into another language which gives Wendell time to threaten Phoney for being the one with the star mentioned by the rat creatures and wanting to give him hell for getting them in this mess, Phoney cowering and knowing his words bore truth. Thorn then divulges she understood the language the two groups were speaking in, not knowing how but then giving orders as to where to take the new family and getting Wendell and a couple others to do what they had already done before, everyone having their tasks and Phoney surprised Thorn believed in his innocence. When Thorn and company get back, they don’t see the town, she making it clear they were in it already. Wendell gets newly enraged at the thought of everyone’s home being obliterated and chasing imaginary dragons because of Phoney, Thorn having to come to his rescue yet again, but not succeeding so Phoney lets out with Thorn’s secret which at first they have trouble believing.

Thorn then tries to get everyone’s attention on a trail she wanted to follow, with or without the group which she believed may lead to the other Bones. Jon, one of the group then encounters a note Thorn had written to Fone Bone and discovered it wasn’t in the place she left it, Lucius most likely having put it in the known spot for trading messages, the group, other than Thorn and Phoney deciding to check Gran’ma Ben’s farm in the morning. The two then go off in search of Fone, but the men in the group notice hooded figures, the Stick-Eaters heading towards them. When Thorn acknowledges them, one confides a message from her grandmother and where she wished Thorn to meet her, Thorn than asks what they know of Fone and they recount the latest news as to his whereabouts, she still struggling with what to do first, deciding she’ll make her final decision in the morning. We then see a dream Thorn has which shows her looking like Snow White and speaking to her younger looking grandmother who urges her to cut the vines around her, younger Lucius advises her to disobey, another young grandmother coming from behind Thorn, but not being able to see her. The younger “evil” grandmother tries to take Thorn’s sword and Thorn wakens clutching Fone’s spiked club, she walking off into the darkness.

The four left in Thorn’s group, being deserted by her during the night, end up walking in the dark trying to uncover Old Man’s Cave. The biggest in their group is still steaming about Phoney’s trouble-making ways and is about to take it out on him again when Wendell tries to hold him back, enforcing Thorn’s order to leave him alone. Gran’ma Ben soon shows up and enquires where Thorn is, stopping the two from fighting amongst themselves. They escort them back to the cave, Lucius going after Thorn. We then see where Fone and Smiley have gotten to, they soon finding themselves amongst rat creatures and when they begin threatening them with death, Thorn comes out to defend them, but upon seeing the club she brandished and giving to Fone, they truly show fear and run off for believing they were the ones to kill Kingdok. After greeting each other warmly, Thorn then figures out which direction will take them to Old Man’s Cave, then promptly heads in the opposite direction, believing they can’t be helped by anyone there, looking for shelter instead. We then see the Hooded One speaking with the Lord of the Locusts who was concerned with his interest in the one who bears the star, the Lord of the Locusts making it clear if the Hooded One’s idea failed, he’d pay for it.

We then see the Bones and Thorn spitting cherry pits at each other in the tree hollow and they getting so loud as to bring Ted back to inform them to keep it down for having to try and keep them hidden. Thorn then shares their plans to confront and over-power the Hooded One, Ted then voicing his opinion they should be going to Old Man’s Cave. Thorn still denying this to be a suitable plan and the three discussing what more is known of the Hooded One and where the Lord of the Locusts came from. Thorn then confides why the Lord of the Locusts was showing such interest in herself and Phoney and how it will aid his release from bondage, going on to confess why she doesn’t trust Gran’ma Ben at the moment and it having to do with the knowledge of a nursemaid Thorn had come to realize didn’t exist. We then see Roque Ja confronting whomever is in his presence, it turning out to be the Hooded One asking for a favor, Roque Ja turning him down before he can continue, taunting him with how he probably wouldn’t have been able to get the information from Kingdok who is now lacking an important appendage needed to speak, he coming out from the darkness as well and the Hooded One having to hold him back.

The Hooded One goes on to mention needing Roque Ja’s help in capturing the Bones once more and what state he wished the princess to be in, he accepting once he gets an agreed upon reward for his efforts. Then we see Phoney being wakened by Jon, he revealing how long Phoney’s been asleep since he’d been ill and now they all residing in Old Man’s Cave. Jon explains some of the cave’s history and Gran’ma Ben comes to see Phoney as well, he realizing her status and thinking he’s going to pay for his bad behavior, she agreeing to judge him lightly. Gran’ma Ben then takes Phoney to a part of the cave which shows drawings on the walls implying the beginning which started with a dragon queen and how the Lord of the Locusts became involved, including an ancestor of Gran’ma Ben’s and in extension, Thorn. Phoney then learns what role the rat creatures believed he would be playing in all of this, Lucius interrupting by coming to update how he hadn’t found Thorn due to her excellent training from the dragons and how they were getting boxed in by the Hooded One and rat creatures setting up camps around them. Gran’ma Ben then defends Phoney from getting decked by Lucius since he was only worried about the well-being of his cousins and when Lucius departs, he asks Gran’ma Ben who the Hooded One was, she not knowing either, but being able to clarify what would occur if he succeeded in releasing the Lord of the Locusts, the outcome not a good one.

Fone and Smiley meanwhile, are gathering water at the barn to prepare for a bath whilst Thorn was within, looking through her grandmother’s belongings. They continue to discuss what the next item of business will be for their group, they not knowing and figuring Thorn would be the leader. Thorn meanwhile is hearing their conversation and interjects what her plan is and reveals why she hadn’t told them until then. Fone puts in his two cents and Thorn expands on why she doesn’t want to go to Old Man’s Cave, but then Fone with Smiley’s help, convinces her it’s the best idea for now and they head in the same direction instead. Lucius is then shone giving command to the group following him in order to keep the rat creatures from completely surrounding Old Man’s Cave. Lucius then sees a woman who introduces herself as Briar and we learn who she’s related to, he in denial it could be her and Jonathan overseeing their conversation from within the woods, also noticing rat creatures approaching. Jonathan then shouts of their closing in and Lucius breaks away from Briar to help defend the cave. We skip to where Gran’ma Ben is updated on what was happening outside the cave, the scout not learning much and then continuing conversation with Phoney in relation to his soul and as she’s explaining she again gets the “gitchy” feeling and Phoney feels a rumbling around them. When they get outdoors they see the place where the Lord of the Locusts is trapped has a dust cloud rising up around it and then Gran’ma Ben learns of what’s happened to Lucius, he coming to inform what had happened to them, she hoping Thorn is alright. Then Roque Ja comes out from behind Gran’ma Ben’s farmhouse sniffing around and seemingly stalking Thorn and co.

Lucius reports back to Gran’ma Ben of who he’d seen as the Hooded One to which she has trouble believing for the one mentioned was thought to be dead, after only seeming to feel pity for her. Gran’ma Ben goes on to share no one else coming to help them and they would most likely be fighting among their own, alone. Wendell then walks up demanding for Phoney to be given to them since he’s the one the rat creatures are looking for and being in this mess because of him. Gran’ma Ben tries to appeal to Wendell and those with him they shouldn’t hand over the one thing they were after if they believed it would help release the Lord of the Locusts, but whilst they were being held off, Phoney takes off and so Gran’ma Ben spreads everyone out looking for him so he doesn’t get caught by the enemies and lose the war inadvertently because of his absence, she going off in search of him on her own and being seen by Roque Ja. Gran’ma Ben notices Phoney and stops him before he made matters worse, Lucius coming up behind the two and Roque Ja looking ready to act, Lucius warning her and Roque Ja pouncing, getting Gran’ma Ben, Lucius jumping on him and the three falling off the cliff. Gran’ma Ben starts by punching the lion though, showing her strength isn’t only rumors, Phoney continuing his ditching of them.

Roque Ja ignores them after and mentions his targets being Phoney and “the princess”, we then seeing Phoney run straight into Fone, Thorn and Smiley walking close behind. Phoney explain how he’d been to Old Man’s Cave and it not being safe anymore and then of Gran’ma Ben’s run in with Roque Ja, which makes Thorn want to go and defend her, Phoney and Fone trying to stop her, but not getting far since Roque Ja had followed Phoney and swatted Thorn out of the way. Fone gets swatted down some boulders and Roque Ja picks up Thorn and Phoney to finish his mission, Smiley trying to get Fone to wake up, but he’s gone into his dreams and sees the Red Dragon there stating for him to wake up and of Thorn’s condition, needing him to follow her. After the Red Dragon conveys how he won’t be able to go with him, Fone wakes and Smiley tells him which direction they’d gone, the two running after Roque Ja.

We then see Gran’ma Ben tending to Lucius who had been hurt, but advising her to make haste for Roque Ja so she can try and divert the lion from succeeding in catching Thorn or Phoney, he assuring her he’ll be going back to Old Man’s Cave and so Gran’ma Ben follows their trail. Smiley and Fone are then shown running over some rocks to where they witness Kingdok, some rat creatures and the Hooded One, Phoney having been bound on a flat stone, the Hooded One remarking how he may have evaded them for some time, but he was caught now and his mystic powers must not be as strong as he thought, Phoney denying knowing anything about this and admitting it was a big misunderstanding and refusing to take part in the Hooded One’s ritual to release the Lord of the Locusts, but she warning Phoney if he didn’t help her willingly she’d accept him as a sacrifice, Bone trying to reason with her, but the Hooded One then showing how the foretelling of Phoney’s coming had been known, an obvious sign, appearing through the thick smoke behind her.

Phoney then realizes what they’d seen and how Fone would definitely be mad if he knew, Fone and Smiley putting two and two together and the balloon shaped like one of the Bones being the cause of them being run out of Boneville. Gran’ma Ben then tries to stop the Hooded One from continuing the sacrifice, after Bone had tried to explain what the balloon had been for and the message beneath, it having a banner at the bottom which was ripped, partially. Gran’ma Ben then speaks of the mistake the Hooded One had made and how the balloon wasn’t the one needed to free the Lord of Locusts but Thorn, who the Hooded One said was dead. Kingdok then goes on to berate how the Hooded One had disgraced his people with the mistake made and then we see what happens to the Hooded One due to the incompetence allowed to play out. Fone goes to Thorn and gives her the necklace the dragon had given him whilst he’d been unconscious, meanwhile locusts having covered her, but when he gives her the necklace, she awakens and Gran’ma Ben and the Bones all try to make sure she can walk so they can escape the area due to it’s instability. Thorn stops only for a moment to put up her hood, giving the impression they haven’t quite saved her yet and this volume ending. I won’t like pausing in the story, but there’s a side-story to be read: Rose, but this volume and the whole series so far is definitely worth the effort.

Bone Vol. 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border

For the fourth volume. Smiley is shown pointing out Fone’s process of making a sandwich to the cub rat creature whilst Fone sulked. He then assuring Smiley they couldn’t linger in the woods much longer, needing to return to town soon for running out of food. Fone is then privy to Smiley naming the cub rat creature, Bartleby which makes him remind Smiley what they’d gone to the woods to do in the first place, being to set him loose. Smiley then manipulates Fone into talking about Moby Dick so he could teach Bartleby how to nap after lunch, Fone falling right into his ploy. We then see Fone settle into perusing through his book as they are being spied upon by other rat creatures. The two rat creatures sneak up on the Bones and Smiley promptly commands Fone to read from the book to bore them, but when Smiley tries first and believes he’s failed, gets Fone to start reading and it knocking them out as he suspected it would.

Smiley, trying to comfort Fone in their escape by it being possibly Fone himself whom is boring and not the story at all, then noticing Bartleby hadn’t followed and saw he was sniffing around the snoozing rat creatures. Fone gets Smiley to realize this was exactly what they were trying to do anyways and continue up the mountain, we seeing the rat creatures revive and following them. Fone and Smiley are trapped, but Bartleby comes to their rescue and ends up sticking with the Bones. Fone is stumped as to their next step when a humongous mountain lion comes up to tell them they’re trespassing. As the mountain lion tries to figure out what group the Bones belong to, he introduces himself as Roque Ja, the master of the eastern border, he wondering aloud if the Bones knew of the Bone with the star on his chest. Fone then tries to ascertain what side Roque Ja is on, but he dodges the question since they hadn’t answered themselves and when the Bones try to walk away, Roque Ja knocks them off the cliff, they hanging onto the ledge and he requesting them to hand him the rat creature cub first, to turn them all in. They try to resist, but Bartleby is first to comply and we leave them awaiting Roque Ja’s next move.

We then see the Possum kids discovering Smiley’s trail after having lost them once before. One of the kids has a slip of conscience and then they hear something, they all playing dead, but realizing it’s only a raccoon. The raccoon, Roderick tells of not trying to scare them, but was on the trail of his parents killers, getting the kids to follow him. He leads them to where he’d last seen the rat creatures, they all then encountering Roque Ja and the Bones after moving past the rat creatures. The Bones are still arguing with Roque Ja about they not wanting to choose a side and how Roque Ja seemed to be catering to the rat creatures for someone who was supposedly the ruler of the eastern border. The Possum kids then learn which side Roque Ja is on after talking with Roderick about who Roque Ja was and his thoughts on the dragons versus the rat creatures, the kids continuing closer to the Bones.

As the Possum kids are close on their tail, Roque Ja is starting to hear something suspicious, but then gets distracted by continuing his rant about rat creatures. We then see what the rat creatures are doing when the Possum kids show up to use themselves as bait to create a chase for them in the direction of Roque Ja and the Bones. Roque Ja is in the middle of relating the tale of why the valley people thought dragons created the mountains when the Possum kids show up as the rat creatures catch one of them in front of Roque Ja, who jumps at the rat creature for trespassing. The Possum kids and Roderick stop at the end of a precariously hanging log, the rat creature and Roque Ja soon following and then the second rat creature joining them, sealing their fated fall, the kids jumping to the small branch across the way. When the Bones realize the kids are safe, Smiley is first to see Roque Ja is angrily making his way back up the cliff, they needing to book it out of there, the Possum kids calling for Roderick to come along, but he not being able to for the other orphans of the mountain, hoping they could all help each other.

The orphan kids tell of their hiding places, willing to help Fone and his friends out before Roque Ja finished his climb back up, but they don’t get away undiscovered, Roque Ja following close behind them until the Bone crew have jumped into a cave in the ground, he not fitting down the gap, but Roque Ja staring at them through the crevice. Soon the orphan kids are trying to exclude the rat creature cub and the Possum kids try to aid the Bones by defending their trustworthiness of allowing the cub rat creature to accompany them through the tunnel. Soon they’re convinced to its necessity the rat creature cub be able to come along, everyone going through in darkness, until Smiley sparks a light. Soon they’re through the tunnel and walk out into an area with Aztec looking statues. The orphan kids show them how they would next need to climb down a cliff to get to the forest, which would take a moment longer to get to, but once they did, they realizing getting down was going to be tricky, unfortunately before they can even attempt it, the two rat creatures come out and stop them, then being engulfed in bugs which then turns out to be Kingdok. He is not happy to see his cronies here with the Bones, having failed to stay with him and then pushing them off the cliff, but two orphan kids are left on the side with Kingdok, Bartleby then showing how useful he could be, by jumping back over for them and bringing them to everyone else, they all then having to figure out where they’d go next.

Fone comes up with everyone needing to walk along the steep edge of the rock. Kingdok then speaking to them and giving them the option to tell him of Phoney’s whereabouts and he granting them their lives, but Fone decides not to take it and Kingdok collapses some rocks impedes their path. Roderick is almost lost, but is saved by a rat creature for selfish reasons as we observe when they stop to account for everyone’s presence. Fone decides to make a deal with the rat creatures, since the orphans weren’t going to help them, they having to agree to stop trying to eat their group and they, in return would help them get away from Kingdok, the two rat creatures taking up Fone’s offer. As they continue down the ledge though, Kingdok is seen patrolling above and since Roque Ja was back the way they’d come, they would need to go down, but then Kingdok sends his locusts out, it engulfing the bunch and they trying to stay calm as the grasshoppers’ presence thickened. Fone doesn’t make it through the locust shower, getting pushed off the ledge and then being pulled off by the locusts when the hoard clears from Smiley and the rest. Kingdok then shows up, trying to crunch on Smiley, the locusts picking up Fone, but something falling from his bag and scaring the locusts away. They then proceed to look through the items Gran’ma Ben had Fone keep safe, the rat creatures acting squirrel-y around a particular one. The orphan kids then discuss how Kingdok didn’t seem real, especially when he vanished and considered how the temple was built on a ghost circle, which would explain the strange things they were experiencing. Fone then decides they need to check on Thorn so they try to get down the mountain as quickly as possible, hoping nothing else arises.

Smiley voices how the rat creature cub would now be able to stay with them as Roque Ja stalks the group. Fone decides the cub should stay with the dense rat creatures, they taking offense, Smiley then noticing the fire which was seen near the village was out and Fone not wanting to jump to conclusions until they saw for themselves what was going on. They then learn a bit about where the Hooded One came from by the rat creatures when they were asked what they knew about the war. The rat creatures then tell of when their race were a content bunch until the locusts came and threatened them into helping the Hooded One. Fone tries to convince the rat creatures it’s possible for them to be happy without following the Hooded One, but then Roque Ja butts in with his own advice, surprising everyone and he deciding they all would return with him back up the mountain, he explaining as they go what the difference is between power and happiness, they then running into Kingdok and the two rat creatures realizing how much trouble they were in whilst the others contemplated whether Kingdok was real this time, settling with the fact he smelled real enough.

Roque Ja then claims to Kingdok he was taking his prisoners to him after Kingdok commands he release them into his custody, then scaring Roque Ja off and Fone debating escape when he and Smiley are grabbed by the two rat creatures, but the Possum kids bite them and give them their chance to flee, they taking it and jumping down a decline. They plan on splitting up at the woods, but Kingdok jumps down to block them, they then trying to get into a depression in the rocks, Roque Ja coming back to body slam Kingdok giving everyone another chance to get to the trees. When everyone gets covered, the orphan kids seperate from the Possum kids, everyone saying their goodbyes with promises to visit, they following the Bones. Smiley then notices Bartleby hadn’t followed them, they returning to the bottom of the mountain expecting to see the rat creatures, but running in to no one until they look higher on the mountain to see the rat creatures carrying Kingdok away with the two traitors following and Bartleby trying to join them, they all going off together and Smiley uncertain whether Bartleby will be alright amongst them, watching him worriedly as they walk away in the opposite direction. This series is getting better as I go, quite captivating. Here‘s the next volume.