Saturday, September 04, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 213 (9/4) -- Boneyard, Vol. 7 by Richard Moore

Reviewers often aren't very good at moderation, and neither is the blogging world. We're always ready to proclaim something to be absolutely wonderful, or uniquely horrible, but it's more difficult to talk about the stuff in the middle without either being wishy-washy or skewing too far in one direction.

Take Boneyard, for example: it's been a consistently entertaining contemporary fantasy series for twenty-eight issues (collected into seven trade paperbacks), mixing a series of mostly serious central plots with comedy relief and a sweet low-key romance plot. Boneyard has never been either great or bad, but instead maintained a level of competence and engaging fun, hitting the level that all entertainment should provide as a minimum (though that standard is often missed).

Moore's main character, Michael Paris, is a bit too sweet and nice and diffident, which has kept that low-key romance from going much of anywhere. And the other side of the romance, the ancient vampiress Abbey, clearly sees more in him than Moore's really made visible to the readers -- he's a nice guy, sure, but presumably someone like her has met more nice guys than you or I have had hot dinners. So their romance has stayed on the same level as that of a much better known single-cartoonist comic with a title that begins Bon --and that's slightly odd, when one realizes that much of Moore's other work is explicitly pornographic. (It's as if his characters can only "get together" if there's nothing more to it than that.) That's not a huge quibble, but Moore doesn't even advance their relationship in these series-ending stories, despite showing alternate-world versions of Michael and Abbey who have become a real couple.

So Boneyard ends here, and hasn't really moved beyond its premise -- that a normal guy, Michael, inherited a graveyard and its wacky folkloric inhabitants (aforementioned vampiress, wolfman, ambulatory skeleton, witch, swamp creature, and so on), and decided to take their side against the world, discovering along the way that the world was bigger and weirder than he expected. That's a sturdy premise, and Moore has rung a number of entertaining variations on it. Boneyard has been well worth reading from the beginning, and Moore owns it, so no one else is going to come along and change everything up for no reason -- and he may come back to it someday; the press materials about the end of the series clearly left that open (as does the end of the story here). Any readers who like actual stories, as opposed to the endless illusion-of-change-for-the-sake-of-change of the long-underwear crowd, should at least take a look at the first volume of Boneyard. Sometimes having an ending makes a story more accessible, and this story now does have one.

(I also reviewed Vol. 6 for ComicMix about two years ago, and a quick note about Vol. 5 during my first Book-A-Day run, back in late 2006.)
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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