Boone Dias, adventurer and investigator still has not mastered the art of making friends. Who does he tick off now? Find out in Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell #2 from Dark Horse Comics.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: David Rubin
Letterer: David Rubin
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 30, 2019
Previously in Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell: Boone Dias has what he needs to live in his beloved Ether, and he is living here in exile. A man comes to his remote mountain-on-an-island to bring him news. Lord Ubel has claimed absolute power over Ether and has been busy dismantling all of its magical institutions. The man is Violet Bell’s father; she has been kidnapped and he believes that Lord Ubel is responsible. This brings Boone out of exile, and they travel to the new Faerie Kingdom and the crime scene where lie the bodies of many, many guards. Boone investigates and announces that the killer…is still in the room!
NOT LISTENING WITH GREAT PANACHE
When Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell #2 opens, Boone is attacked by something he identifies as a Battle Sarcophagus (isn’t that a fascinating name?), an exoskeleton that surrounds the fleshy remains of someone whose bones are long since gone. The attacker can also create weapons on the fly right from its flesh. After few pages of fight, it flees, but not before Boone breaks a container of smelling salts on it. This is the clever, infuriating Boone – he has a magical journal that can track the smelling salts. Of course, he does.
To track the assassin, he needs a ship. Glum carefully negotiates passage for the on a pirate ship in return for an as of yet unnamed favor from Boone. Then Boone digresses into the story that tells us how Glum got his eye injury, even though for two pages, Glum insists he doesn’t want to talk about it. But this does segue neatly into the other condition – Boone has to let Glum take the lead with the pirates and try not to piss anybody off. Any guesses as to how long before Boone pisses somebody off?
As on the most traditional of quests, they meet strange challenges on the way. There are the hallucinogenic gases, which don’t seem to affect Boone at all, and which he figures out how to dissipate with only some collateral damage. Then there’s the Blood Gulf – not water but living blood that will leave them alone unless somebody does something stupid (another concept I dig). Boone triggers an attack, figures out how to get out of it, and causes more collateral damage. He makes it to the Isle of the Seven Lucky Gods, and by this time Glum has had quite enough of Boone and they part ways.
Boone boldly walks into the temple where the Seven Lucky Gods are, since this is where the assassin went. He wants their help; he recalls their story where they cannot die; and he offers to kill them if they help him. He has a plan for doing so. If they’re tired of being immortal, it can only mean they want to die, right?
ACTION-PACKED AND LOOPY
Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell #2 has a mix of serious, emotional moments as well as a lot of humor. The art communicates both of these but leans heavily into the humor. The pirate ship scenes are a case in point. The Port of Skulls, where they hire the ship, is built almost entirely of bones. The skull and crossbones features a skull with three eyeholes. The more you look, the more you see. The figurehead looks like the figure in Munch’s “The Scream.” The pirates are truly an odd bunch. And we haven’t gotten to the hallucinogenic gases yet. But support all of this with a vivid color palette and dynamic sound effects and it has quite the visual impact.
The over-the-top action and Boone’s almost vaudevillian disregard for how his actions affect anyone else contrast strongly, almost jarringly, with the deep emotional moments. It’s like the book is so silly it doesn’t know how to handle being serious. On the other hand, that’s a perfect metaphor for Boone Dias.
BOTTOM LINE: ONE OF A KIND
I enjoyed Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell #2, but it is a book that challenges classification. It is fantasy, but not the high fantasy that pervades most of the genre. There’s a mystery investigation, but Boone cheats it with his gadgets. There are plenty of amusing gags, but this isn’t just a funny book either. I suspect this is a book some people will really like, and others will just think is weird.
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Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell #2
Boone Dias – burning bridges almost as fast as he can get to them in the first place.