As awkward as it is to admit, as a critic I don't have previous experience with the 'Colder' series. 'Toss the Bones' has been my first foray, and from these two issues I can tell it's far from an ideal place to start. Revelations have been sprung, tortures endured, and the mini leans heavily on the resurrection of a character killed much earlier in the series. As awkward as this confession is, as a critic I think it's only fair to begin with this disclaimer, that my perspective on the series is far from complete and consequently affects my experience greatly. That having been said, despite being a consummately professional Dark Horse release, these two issues have effectively reduced my interest in going back to get properly caught up. In 'Toss the Bones', after a traumatic battle that left deep physical and emotional scars on our protagonist Declan and his girlfriend Reece, the two have tried to establish some peace in their lives, unaware that a psychotic enemy from their past has resurrected and is invisibly stalking them, wreaking transcendental havoc in his wake.
As with the first issue, not a whole lot happens over the twenty plus pages given. Declan and Reece's dialogue felt like it should have been covered in the deeply padded first issue, while the Joker-like Nimble Jack fills more pages with free-association babbling and intermittently creepy mischief. Obviously, my aforementioned handicap plays most heavily here, as I can only infer the relationships and gravity of the foreshadowing, but as an improvement over the first issue, this one still comes off as mostly filler. Nimble Jack frolics and commits random acts of insanity on bystanders, dominating the book while Declan and Reece's relationship is left to feel vaguely like an interruption to his antics. I suppose his disjointed speech and lack of predictability is intended to be creepy and unsettling, but it's presented in an intentionally dreamlike way, on characters we don't know, and without any of our protagonist's awareness or ability to intervene. It doesn't serve a function to the plot and is too surreal most of the time to have any tactile weight; just uncanny images and eventually wearisome mad poetry. The book spins its wheels till the last few pages, wrapping itself up where the first issue probably should have. It isn't terrible, but these first two issues have felt like they are entirely there to excuse giving artist Juan Ferreyra an ample twisted playground.
And play he does, Juan's art being frequently spectacular. His richly colored watercolor tones have enough fleshy detail to bring 'Colder's bizarre creations to life, while having a dream-like Simon Bisley abstractness. The book is nearly purely recommendable based on Juan's contribution alone, even if the end result makes his considerable talents feel mismanaged.
'Colder: Toss the Bones' has echos of the early arcs of Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' and Grant Morrison's 'The Invisibles'; that early 90's punk/beat influenced surrealism and black-natured whimsy. However, where Gaiman knew how to use literary archness to create a foreboding tone and Morrison was fully off his rocker, 'Colder' feels more like mimicry than madness, feeling around for that spark but not quite grasping it. Maybe one day I'll take the time to go back and experience the series properly, and I might even find this review entirely wrong in its assertions, but until then the greatest pleasure and awe I derive from this series is admiring the book closed, to appreciate its richly illustrated covers.
Colder: Toss The Bones #2 Writer: Paul Tobin Artist: Juan Ferreyra Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/28/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital