BONE 25th ANNIVERSARY REVIEW: “The Dragonslayer” is a collection of eight comics written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (Rasl, Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil) and published in 1997. This colored version was published in 2006 by Scholastic, with the colorist being Steve Hamaker. After being told of who she really is, Thorn has trouble handling her current situation. Tensions rise in Barrelhaven, and Phoney Bone capitalizes on it by making lies against the dragons, saying that they are an infestation, and how he is the only one who can stop them. Little does he know how this accusation will backfire.
Recollecting on my past with these books once more, “The Dragonslayer” was the very first “Bone” book for me to buy, way back in one of my elementary school’s book fairs. It wasn’t the only one I picked up, however, for I also purchased “Old Man’s Cave,” the sixth book, and have kept them both in relatively good condition (except for the idiotic stamp placed at the front of the book in order to show that I bought them at the book fair and didn’t steal). I remember reading this graphic novel and having no clue what was going on, but because the artwork was fantastic and it had some relation to “The Great Cow Race,” I couldn’t put it down. Looking this over once more, I can say that this is where the franchise becomes gruesome. In my previous review, I said that “Eyes of the Storm” is where things shift into what this series is going to essentially become; now we are in the thick of it. Everything is turned upside down in Barrelhaven. Phoney has become the leader of the townspeople, Lucius can’t get a word out how the Bone is playing them, and Thorn, Grandma, and Fone are stuck in a dangerous situation in the woods once more. It is in these woods that we get a taste of the grit and roughness of this graphic novel series. Blood is spilt, bodies are thrown, and an arm is cut off; nothing that would be considered PG in this world. If there is one thing that irks my nerves about these novels, it’s how hardly anyone I talk to about it takes it seriously. They see the Scholastic logo and instantly think it’s for kids. Granted, Scholastic is an organization specifically created to sell books to children, but that doesn’t mean that everything they churn out is for the little tykes who can’t even stand on their own two feet. This is a series for mature ages, with enough simplicities for a child to get involved as well. Pushing away from that idea, let’s delve into this read. I think after reading this, I can safely say that Phoney Bone is my favorite Bone. He may not be the most endearing of the bunch, but he provides his own conflict, all of which is fun to see him crumble. Pitching to the townsfolk that he is a dragonslayer tops the scam of the cow race, mainly because of how much it alters the functions of Barrelhaven. Everyone is scared and looking to him for help in defeating the dragons, leading up to a thrilling climax that leaves on a cliffhanger. Like a few of the previous novels, this one got better the further I read. Not that the beginning was a low point; in fact, all of this was great information and pushed us closer to where we are supposed to go, instead of displaying a bunch of filler. We learned the whole truth to Thorn’s destiny, and what is really going on in the dark. Everything is set into motion, and the wheels seem to keep moving until a conclusion is reached. As I was reading, I picked up on a few things that Smith is trying to establish in this book. Besides its sudden graphic content, one thing he does is pair up characters who haven’t hung out with one another in the series so far. Fone Bone asks for help from Smiley, and Phoney gets pestered by Ted and soon runs into Thorn. The characters are making a rift, separating themselves into groups so that us as readers have two different arcs to focus on. It has been that way throughout this franchise, but only now have the characters gotten mixed around. This makes things fresh, and gives our figures more possibilities of developing through other, different people. The townsfolk in this, especially Wendell, grow increasingly more out of their background roles, and I await to see further development from them. I think the best thing that Smith has to offer in this story is its edge of danger. The situation now is especially hanging over the cliff, as we are just waiting for things to crash and burn. War is coming, and it is only a matter of time. If there was something I could say that is bad about this novel, it would be the distinction between the two main rat creatures. So far, it has been clear that the brown one loves to make his killings into a quiche, making him the idiot when compared to his traveling partner, who is colored blue. They are shown at the beginning of this novel at night, but it looks like the roles have switched. Unless a blue animal turns purple at night and brown turns blue, I’m pretty sure the blue rat creature was going on about a quiche. It kind of got on my nerves, and I hope it wasn’t a mistake. Besides that, there isn’t really anything jarring that I found to be bad. This is a bigger book, just like “Eyes of the Storm,” but I didn’t find that many slow spots that would cause too much damage. This series is getting increasingly better by the book, prompting me to give this one a better score than the previous entries. With its excess of meat to sink into for the story as well as consistently terrific artwork to back it up, it would be hard not to. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn