Bugged Out Horror
I’ve never really given a lot of time to the horror genre within the comics industry. However during Christmas last, I found myself reading and being scared out of my wits having read the first volume of Image Comics’ Wytches. I’ve read horrors books and never felt as on edge as I did when reading Scott Snyder’s terrifying story.
So when Regression by Cullen Bunn landed on my work desk just before the weekend and I spied the Image Comics logo and grotesque cover; I knew I was in for something good.
Scary and gross but good!
The first issue does not disappoint on any of those fronts.
Bunn tells us the story of a young man, Adrian, whose daily life is tormented by hallucinations. Adrian’s mind is plagued by nightmarish scenes of insects crawling everywhere around him. Bugs pour out of the eyes and mouths of his friends, they infest food and drink and fill up the toilet bowl he throws up. Adrian is aware that what he’s seeing are hallucinations, he’s aware that it’s not real but that only compounds the maddening effect. Unable to figure out or find a cure, he takes his girlfriend up on an offer to visit a hypnotherapist.
It’s here, on the stage floor, that Adrian, his girlfriend learn about past lives and regression therapy. A means of travelling back through our past, beyond what we consider our current life and into lives long forgotten. The aim is to uncover just what might be triggering the hallucinations and help put the underlying issue to rest. The result of the session leaves issue one on a bloody cliffhanger.
To do horror right, you have to force the audience to fill in the gorey blanks. To let them conjure up their idea of the worst thing that could happen and leave them wincing in their own agony. Bunn nails this down perfectly! No small feat in the visual medium of comics, mind you! His main character Adrian, seems like a decent person, someone we could know or even be, someone we can relate to. Adrian is trapped in his mental state, it consumes his daily thoughts and actions and he is desperate to see his life turned around. We feel empathy toward him and toward his situation, it’s another trick in the horror genre, one you can’t help falling for.
Beneath Adrian’s skin, beneath his mind there lurks something dark and sinister, something that’s itching to get free. Bunn teases us to scratch that itch with each page, toying with our perverse sense of curiosity. In the end he turns it against us, displaying the grotesque but only a morsel to sate that strange lust for the morbid many horror fans harbor.
This sense of unease, of underlying dark discretions is compounded by the art of Luckert and colours Enger. Luckert poses characters like they are straight out of catalogue. A tool of disguise; his work attempts to mask just really what’s going on. Even the panels bursting with bugs are posed with clean lines, fueling the notion that these hallucinations are the normal for Adrian.
The same can be said for Enger’s colouring. Nothing pops off the page, nothing grabs you to say ‘THIS, YOU SHOULD LOOK AT THIS’. It’s all there, splayed out in gory but normal detail. The middle of the comic features a splash image, twisted and faded. It is a collage of clues and a horrifyingly beautiful display.
If Regression was only just one issue long then I’d consider this a journey in the horror well told. It’s not just a single issue though and I’m excited. I’m also scared to take this on. This is a must read and must have for horror fans and for people to share my trepidation with.
Bunn’s story has given me the creeps and I want more!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!