“Crown of Horns”

BONE 25th ANNIVERSARY REVIEW: “Crown of Horns” is a collection of six comics written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (Rasl, Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil) and published on April 25, 2004. This colored version was published in 2009 by Scholastic, with the colorist being Steve Hamaker. The war between the Lord of the Locusts and the Veni-Yan has commenced as everything comes crashing down. As Grandma Ben rallies forces against the rat creatures, Fone Bone and Thorn must find a way out of prison in order to find the sacred Crown of Horns and stop the Lord of Locusts from rising.

This is it: the ultimate battle between good and evil; Atheia and the rat creatures; the Lord of the Locusts and Thorn. For me, the final installment in any series is typically the better of the bunch, specifically because it’s the culmination of everything we’ve been waiting for. I remember buying this as a young child, feeling the power of the pages in my hands, and reading over the beautiful artwork in awe. This is the largest novel of the set, so I believe that was the first contribution to my love for “Crown of Horns.” Everything else that lied in the content soon followed, and reading it once again proved to be amazing. This was my battle for Middle Earth as a kid, and my gosh was it epic. Beginning with Tarsil’s swift killing, the war that followed was brutal. This is where the people who called these books childish would shut up, if they haven’t already (there have been gruesome moments before). Bodies are thrown, swords spear into people, and freaky townsfolk of the ghost circles are shown. Though it’s not the most horrifying sight I’ve seen or read through, it sure does take the cake over most graphic novels read by a kid. Honestly, carnage was not necessarily needed, but was a bonus. What truly mattered in this story was wrapping things up in a neat bow while giving explanation to the why all this happened. How that was executed was masterful. All of the little pieces of flashbacks were sewn together to create the whole back story, with some extra to really draw the reader in. I was captivated throughout this novel, from the always fantastic artwork to the raw emotion that was evoked in the characters. This is what everything has come to; our heroes are tired, beaten, and ready to go home, though the war is not over. I loved every detail of the fight and everything in between. Our characters were often scattered around the location of precedence, offering great content that was fresh and not repetitive nor tightly boxed in. There was great tension in the effort against evil, and I found myself on the edge of my seat while reading. Playing the score from “The Lord of the Rings” helped the experience immensely, by the way. Everything went by in a flash, as so much was crammed into these pages. Lives were lost, victories were made, and goodbyes were given. It’s what I expected to come of this conclusion, and I will say that it is very satisfying. I enjoyed the grit that came with the war as well as the somber moments that came afterwards. It was rather sad to bid these figures ado, though everything must come to an end. I think, overall, all that Smith set out to do was accomplished. The character arcs were fulfilled, his artwork was brilliant, and the story was neatly wrapped. It’s such a wonderful book to read, and clearly the best of the bunch. If there was one thing I would say that kept it from achieving perfect status, however, it would be the flow. Overall, the flow of this was smooth, though once the war ends, the book continues for two chapters, all displaying the aftermath. It was a nice read, though it felt more like an epilogue than a part of the main story. The action is what really took the cake of this book, and it was by far some of the best work of the entire franchise. What Jeff Smith did to craft this ending was genius, as was the entire story of “Bone.” It’s saddening to see it go, as I mentioned, though there’s still more to this universe to discover. If you find yourself reading this graphic novel series, I will tell you that you won’t be disappointed with how it ends. You’ll most likely find yourself grinning ear to ear, as I did myself. FINAL SCORE: 97%= Juicy Popcorn

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