Bone: Crown of Horns

Reviewed: February 4, 2009
By: Jeff Smith
Publisher: Scholastic Books Graphix
213 pages, $0.00

Crown of Horns brings to a close the nine volumes of the Bone saga. The books were originally published in black and white format, with 55 issues appearing over the period from 1991 to 2004. The entire work was collected in B/W trade paperback volumes, and then in a massive omnibus edition (which I reviewed here some time back). Scholastic bought reprint rights and hired acclaimed colorist Steve Hamaker to bring the book to four-colour glory.

As good as Bone was in its original editions, I’d have to say that these Scholastic versions are an improvement, even if the page dimensions are slightly smaller than the originals. The colour heightens the drama and give texture to the characters.

Bone began as a kind of slapstick saga that owed something to the work of Walt Kelly’s Pogo, a bit to Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge and probably some more to the Hope and Crosby Road pictures. Three outcasts, banned from their home, end up in a medieval sort of valley where they are strangers in a strange land and make all kinds of mistakes. The first few volumes are funny with touches of seriousness.

As the story progresses, however, it becomes an epic fantasy in construction, bringing to a close a story that we learn has been in progress for generations, a cartoonish Lord of the Rings, to which it has been compared. Crown of Horns is the climax and coda of this saga, filled with battles, life and death struggles, magic and redemption, all salted with a bit of humor, just to remind you of how the story began.

This is fine reading for kids of all ages, and adults who haven’t forgotten how to enjoy a good story.