“Ghost Circles”

BONE 25th ANNIVERSARY REVIEW: “Ghost Circles” is a collection of six comics written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (Rasl, Tüki: Save the Humans) and published on August 15, 2001. This colored version was published in 2008 by Scholastic, with the colorist being Steve Hamaker. Reeling from the aftermath of “Old Man’s Cave,” Thorn, Grandma Ben, and the Bones trek from the mountain pass to find a safe haven. Unfortunately for them, there are several ghost circles laid out on their path; these are unseeable zones by the naked eye, and if they step in them, they vanish forever.

“Ghost Circles” presents a rather peculiar idea in this series, pertaining to what the graphic novel is named after. Adding onto the “Bone” mythos, ghost circles are apparently these areas where the dream world and real world collide, creating voids; whoever gets trapped in one is doomed to die. This of course was brought on by the chaotic events at the end of “Old Man’s Cave,” essentially launching us full speed into what’s to conclude of this franchise. Though this novel primarily focuses on our heroes picking up the pieces of what happened in the previous installment, I couldn’t help but be enthralled in the action that took place. Alternating between the village folk sitting at Old Man’s Cave and Bone and his group pushing away from the mountain pass, there was a lot of meat to sink my teeth into when it came to story. Unfortunately, this series has witnessed its first character death (whom I will not give a name of), though that adds to the grit of what this endgame is shaping up to be. From that point on, we are thrown into a heaping pile of confusion, all having to do with the dreaming and the real world. I always enjoy a story where our heroes are just as in the thick of their mess as we are; learning of this new knowledge alongside them made for entertaining and intriguing writing. I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of ghost circles fully (which could be a very minor con), but the idea of it had me extremely engaged. The way Jeff Smith displayed this in his writing and drawing was masterful. I’ve particularly taken immense love to how dark this franchise has been turning, from color tones to how banged out our main characters are getting. Outside of the ghost circles themselves and what they entail, we are dealt with further development of our characters. Some are fleshed out more than others, but it is always desired nonetheless, even if we are in book seven. Thorn’s background is finally becoming fully realized, and we even learn more about Lucious, and what he did when he was younger. Although it’s not a hefty amount of information, it is much needed, and I commend Smith on his brilliant work in the character department. Studying this graphic novel for all its inner workings, there’s not much I can say that is wrong with it. The pacing can get a little slow here and there, due to most of the story, if not all, being about our characters walking in the middle of nowhere. Elsewhere, there’s other characters trying to get walking as well. Making long journeys is the theme of this, and it can get tiring. Not so much to where I become bored, however. Like I stated, I was deeply engaged with the ghost circles and our characters’ predicament. I’m just giving reason as to why this novel isn’t perfect. However, it does put up a good fight, and I found myself enjoying this book quite a lot. The artwork is consistently terrific (like always), our characters are being developed further, and I can see broader, disastrous things on the horizon for our heroes. All is going well in this franchise, and I can’t wait to read what makes of it in the end. FINAL SCORE: 93%= Juicy Popcorn

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