Review - Bone Parish #1 (@BOOMStudios)

"The ash?"

Regardless of where you fall in terms of drugs and their legality, there's an indisputable notion that drugs affect everyone differently. A drug's reputation grows or shrinks demand for the product just like anything else that's sold to end-users. In Bone Parish #1 from BOOM! Studios, the demand for a new drug called Ash is through the roof and it affects everyone differently as well--everyone from the users to the dealers to rival dealers. The issue is written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Jonas Scharf, colored by Alex GuimarĂ£es and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

A new drug is sweeping through the streets of New Orleans; one made from the ashes of the dead. Wars are being fought over who will control the supply, while the demand only rises. While the crime families wage war, users begin to experience terrifying visions of the dead coming back to life-through them.

As far as first issues go Bunn ensures that Bone Parish #1 is packed with interesting characters and storylines. The central element of the book is a new drug called Ash and it's this drug that Bunn uses to bring together disparate characters; characters such as a young queen and her drug empire, up and comers within that empire and outside forces looking to muscle their way in. Bunn weaves it all together quite effortlessly, handing of the narrative from one character to the next as he delves into the inner workings of a drug cartel on the rise selling a pretty inventive new drug. The dialogue throughout the issue is strong, with Bunn using it well as a means of both informing the reader of what's what while also moving the plot along at a comfortable pace. There's even a pretty delightful twist at the end that puts a lot of the previous book in a new perspective that Bunn leverages extremely well to convince the reader of the power of Ash.

The gritty illustrative style of Scharf is extremely appropriate for Bone Parish #1 as it grounds the book in seediness. Each character looks grizzled and worn in ways that are reflective of the toll the various stations of a drug cartel takes on an individual. The scenes where the effects of Ash are being shown are very interesting as Scharf gives the reader a glimpse of just how powerful the drug actually is. Scharf arranges the panels in a way that's very tidy and reinforces the buttoned-up approach being taken by the Ash dealers as their product becomes bigger and bigger to its clientele. The colors by GuimarĂ£es are dark and moody save for the vibrant pops of pink that demonstrate the hallucinations that accompany an Ash trip.

Bone Parish #1 is a very strong first issue that sets the reader up nicely for an engaging series. Grace is overseeing a drug cartel on the rise, but there are forces both internal and external looking to perhaps interrupt that ascent. Bunn's script is fluid and well-crafted, presenting the reader with great detail about the world without being overbearing. Scharf's illustrations are grimy in a way that underscores the notion that those involved in drug cartels are not exactly filled with the friendliest of people. Bone Parish #1 is a thoroughly enjoyable first issue that sets the stage for what's shaping up to be an equally enjoyable series as it unfolds.

Bone Parish #1 is available July 25.