The final volume of Jeff Smith’s beloved comic series Bone. I don’t know. Maybe it was years of folks telling me how good it was. Maybe it was a matter of not reading it as it was coming out. Whatever the reason, this series really didn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong. There’s some good stuff in here. It just isn’t good enough and there’s not enough of it to make me love the books. It’s only been a few days since I finished this volume, and already I’m having to flip through it to remember what happened. I don’t think I’ll remember anything about these books in a year.
In this final volume, there’s a massive siege, with the good guys trying to fend off hordes of enemies. The true enemy finally reveals itself in full. Not everybody comes out on the other side.
Endings are tough and endings of epic stories are extra tough. This one just kinda peters out. It’s not a Lord of the Rings “and then, and then, and then” kind of wind down, yet it has a bit of that feel. “Hey! It’s all over. Let’s hang out for a little bit, I guess…Alright, we’re good…OK…Bye….FIN.” Looking back on the series, I don’t think any of the characters grow or change. There are plot arcs, but no character arcs. Thorn at the beginning is Thorn at the end. Some stuff happened to her, but she’s basically the same person. I guess maybe Gran’ma Ben learned something…maybe. The worst though are the Bones. Other than Smiley, who becomes a bit more Zen about life, the Bone cousins end up exactly the same as they started, and that’s infuriating. Fone is still timid and lost. Phoney is still annoying and greedy. They seemed to have learned nothing. We put up with nine volumes of Phoney being intensely annoying and it meant nothing. He didn’t suffer for it. He didn’t learn the error of his ways. He didn’t change his tune. Nothing. Ugh! At least Beni in “The Mummy” got eaten by beetles. Phoney? Nothing.
Bone frequently reminded me of William Messner-Loeb’s underground comic Journey. That comic is much, much better and I’d recommend seeking it out. As far as this series goes, it’s probably not a bad introduction to Fantasy and comics for kids, but I can’t put it on my list of great comics that I’ve read. There are some occasional bits of imagery that are especially nice and there are times throughout the series where it feels like it’s reaching for something grand. Sadly, it never achieves those designs.