ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Crone’ #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trigger Warning: Crone #1 deals with issues of suicide 

Crone #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics, is written by Dennis Culver, art by Justin Greenwood, colors by Brad Simpson, and letters by Pat Brosseau. Bloody Bliss is the terror of all who oppose her. With a flick of her wrist, blood rains down from her blade as she cuts a swath of destruction through untold numbers of her enemies. Or, at least, it used to. Those days are decades ago now. Bliss has retreated into hiding. But when an ancient enemy returns, an old friend appears on her mountain begging for help.

From the first moment readers are introduced to Crone #1’s protagonist she feels instantly familiar. Seemingly cut from the same cloth as legendary comic character Red Sonja, Bloody Bliss is a warrior who was once capable of slaughtering her enemies with abandon. Now, however, she is long since removed from those days and has sentenced herself to an apparent self-imposed exile on a lonely mountain. With only memories and ghosts for company, Bliss seems to be facing some new adversaries as our story opens. And it doesn’t seem to be going well.

A lifetime of war comes with its own struggles. This remains true even long after the swords have all gone to rust. This is certainly true for Bliss. The first time Crone #1 introduces us to the current day Bliss she stands on the edge of a precipice, contemplating whether or not to take one more step. This instantly brought me into a new understanding of what kind of book this was going to be. This moment, and others, feel carefully handled by the creative team. Bliss’s solemnity in this moment gives the impression it has been a long struggle for her. It’s something that may be an all too frequent occurrence in her life. Terrible, but also something she has learned to live with.

As someone with similar struggles, I instantly felt an understanding with Bliss. That acknowledgment of its presence in her life. That it is a part of who she is on a daily basis was something I could appreciate and understand. I hadn’t seen the issue handled in this way before. It felt much like how I have at times felt. Because of this Bliss instantly felt real to me.

Even when she is reunited with her old friend Gaspar it feels bittersweet. So much of what haunts her is clearly tied up with all the old “adventures” they went on. Culver’s writing in Crone #1 handles all this with subtlety and tack. Bliss has led a hard life and she shoulders the burden of that life. All those burdens are showing on her.

This showing is captured wonderfully in Greenwood’s art. The stark contrast between then and now are captured beautifully. The energy of Bliss’s younger days which open Crone #1 is replaced with so much stillness. Even when action does happen in the present Bliss’s approach to it mirrors the changes in her perfectly.

The divide between past and present is also heightened by an amazing coloring job on the part of Simpson. The fiery reds and oranges of the opening battle sequence stand in sharp contrast to the blue tones of Bliss’s mountain home. The story goes back to those hotter colors only once Bliss is told why her old friend has come seeking her. As tempers flair about who and what Bliss still is, the colors change on cue to support the feel of the art and the story.

When I first approached Crone #1, I expected a quirky swords and sorcery tale about a past-her-prime barbarian that had to dust off the sword for one more adventure. Instead, I found a deep, emotional beginning to what I hope will be a satisfying tale of a person who, after living a hard life, is able to come to terms with who she was, and maybe manage to find a little piece by the end.

Crone #1 is available on November 6th.

Crone #1
4.5

TL;DR

When I first approached Crone #1, I expected a quirky swords and sorcery tale about a past-her-prime barbarian that had to dust off the sword for one more adventure. Instead, I found a deep, emotional beginning to what I hope will be a satisfying tale