“The Great Cow Race”

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BONE 25th ANNIVERSARY REVIEW: “The Great Cow Race” is a collection of comics written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (Rasl, Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil) and published in 1996. This colored version was published in 2005 by Scholastic, with the colorist being Steve Hamaker. Barrelhaven’s annual cow race has arrived, and Fone Bone is looking for a chance to woo Thorn. Elsewhere, Phoney Bone formulates a new scheme in order to earn a high reward off of the townsfolk and dig himself out of his debt.

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For the longest time, “The Great Cow Race” has been regarded as a personal favorite of mine. Why? I hardly have a clue. It may have been because it was the first “Bone” book that I read, way back in my early years of elementary school (I didn’t really read chapter books; once I found this graphic novel, I fell in love with the art). It honestly is a well-written single-story arc. The Great Cow race that Barrelhaven hosts doesn’t matter in the slightest to the overall view of this series’ story, but boy is it entertaining, and it is a solid character development builder. Fone Bone has trouble getting close to Thorn, Grandma Ben is losing confidence in herself, and, most importantly, Phoney Bone is plotting another scam to save himself from debt; all involving the secretive “mystery cow.” This is “Bone” mythology at its finest. Although there is such a thing as a cow race in real life (I looked it up; there are some held primarily in Australia), it is hardly ever depicted in graphic novels, let alone one that has the cows run by themselves. The race itself was the candy of this read, aside from the dreams that Thorn is having. Seeing Phoney’s Bone’s scam go to rot was funny, especially whenever Fone Bone and his mess get thrown into the mix, causing complete chaos. The drawings that display this are fun, with the coloring improving upon them once more. This was yet another entertaining graphic novel to study, as I got a tighter grip on the culture of Barrelhaven and its characters. The betting process really brought us closer to the various townsfolk, even providing further comedy. It worked masterfully. However, Barrelhaven wasn’t the only aspect holding the spotlight in this book. As I’ve mentioned before, some of the juicy bits belong to Thorn’s dream, which builds upon the last one we saw in the previous book. I loved the layout of the sequence, as well as the eerie coloring pallet used. Smith isn’t a guy to make a book solely for filler; what he creates matters in some way to his universe. If it wasn’t for this dream, or the more subtle hints at a dark future towards the end between Rose and Lucius, than I would’ve given this graphic novel a lesser score. It wouldn’t have been a whole lot, being as how this is thoroughly entertaining and builds on the characters. It just wouldn’t have been as grand of an experience. I loved reading over this personal favorite once more, and still retain that admiration for it even now, having grown in the mind. I think that is the best compliment I can give this book. FINAL SCORE: 91%= Juicy Popcorn

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