Regression #1 – When Your Past Lives Come Back to Haunt You
Cullen Bunn is no stranger to graphic horror- but Regression #1 hits a new high of creepiness and gore that is sure to impress and disgust. This first issue is a short foray into Bunn’s personal experiences and nightmares that speaks to our biggest fears about death and the inner working of our own minds. The art catapults this introductory issue to the top of my reading list.
The first issue begins with a seemingly innocuous introduction of a likable and mundane protagonist, Adrian. Things escalate from slice-of-life to slice-of-gross, disturbing death when Adrian’s everyday barbecue experience escalates to a freak show of death and decay. From beer bottles of grubs to maggots worming their way through his friends welcoming smiles, Adrian is dealing with some scary imagery. Bunn keeps readers guessing with nonchalant explanations of these disturbing images. Adrian passes it off as visions, or nightmares when it is so clearly something much more sinister.
As the story continues, Adrian is dragged through his past lives and the deepest caverns of his mind through hypnosis. Bunn continues to drag readers deeper and deeper into a complicated horror-scape. Through Regression Therapy, Adrian hopes to discover the source of his waking nightmares and find a way to deal with them. What he really brings back is much more mysterious and sinister.
Bunn’s success in developing this story draws from his personal experience as the son of a professional stage hypnotist. His own experience with Regression Therapy and Hypnosis overlays a level of realism that validates the choppy story, jump-scare panels, and disjointed horror imagery. Though the story may not be completely fleshed out by this first issue, the tone and direction that Bunn is bale to communicate by molding his own experiences into the course of the plot is enough to make the second issue worth a look.
Bunn’s storytelling, though rich and graphic, is not enough to hold up the introductory issue to Regression. The plot os still vague and mysterious as Adrian slowly discovers the source of his nightmare, and what he may have unearthed under hypnosis. With the support of the excellent art of Danny Luckert and the adaptive, multi-dimensional colors of Marie Enger, Regression #1 has enough meat and mystery to hook bloodthirsty readers.
Luckert brings a depth to this issue that reinforces the tone and direction the plot. The detail on bowls of maggots, rotting corpses, and bloody murder scenes highlights the disturbing imagery Bunn is relying on to convey the severity of Adrian’s waking nightmares. The stark contrast between ominous scenes of decay and violence with the opposing view of Adrian’s “normal” life lends even more credibility to Bunn’s sinister, disturbing plot twists.
Regression #1 stands heavily on the impressive colors from Marie Enger as well. The scenes of the normal world are soft and welcoming. The tones of yellow and orange draw the reader into a trap of light, vibrant colors that, when abandoned, make the dark of the nightmare sin this book even darker. The ability to adjust from light, inviting colors to the frightening, saturated scenes of decay and horror in Adrian’s nightmares and past lives takes this book to another level of horror.
In horror books, lettering is extremely important. One cartoony font can take the reader out of the realm of disbelief and fear and ruin the tone of a darker story. Anger avoids this trap and excels in developing a lettering style for this book that enhances the horror elements. Along with her divergent color scheme, Enger splits her lettering into two distinct styles. The tight, upbeat letters for the bulk of the book provide excellent contrast to the sinister lettering used for the nightmare scenes and the voice of the demons plaguing Adrian. This reinforces the tone of the book overall and is one of the most provoking elements of this issue.
I am a fan of horror books, and of Cullen Bunn in general. With a personal, innovative storyline and graphic art, this book has a chance to succeed in the horror genre and strike a chord with the bloodthirsty fans of recent horror comics. Fans of Bunn’s work on Harrow County or other realistic, modern horror books like Nailbiter or Locke and Key will be able to enjoy Regression. The book is similar in tone, but Bunn’s personal connection to this material shines through and adds a unique, memorable element to Regression that feels refreshing.
Overall, this first issue is not the longest of the most jam-packed with action. However, the graphic art and the tone launched in this short introduction praise a great series ahead.
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