This week, new horror comic from Image arrived in the form of Regression, written by Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, Monsters Unleashed), illustrated by Danny Luckert, with colors by Marie Enger.
As a big fan of Cullen Bunn’s other work in horror, I was definitely planning on giving Regression a try. What I found is a work quite different from anything else Bunn has ever written, and yet it’s a story he says has plagued him since childhood. In an essay contained in the back of issue #1, you’ll find Bunn’s very direct reflections on the inspirations that led him to write Regression, and they are deeply personal, grounded in observing his father act as a hypnotist and entertainer when Bunn was a kid. People under hypnosis seemed to reveal the details of past lives, or other personalities, and one young man’s behavior affected Bunn so strongly that decades later he is finally telling a story inspired by it. Eerie!
However, Danny Luckert’s artwork and Marie Enger’s colors on this book have a lot to do with just how and why the story is unsettling. They create an atmosphere that almost conjures the hyper-realistic styles of mid-century American paintings in a more comic art-based vein. The opening of the comic is set at a backyard BBQ, and everything feels so suburban, and so “normal” that the hallucinations which begin to haunt main character Adrian seem that much more horrifying by contrast.
This is a book full of creepy crawlies, and some visceral imagery in imagined and real form, so keep that in mind in making your reading choice, however, if you’re a horror fan like me, this is a book you don’t want to miss. As a horror fan, I’ve read fairly widely, and can honestly say that I have never read a horror comic quite like Regression. As an avid fan of series like Clean Room from Vertigo, Nameless from Image, and Colder from Dark Horse, I see some aspects of tone that are similar, but this series is still very distinctive.
When Adrian yields to a female friend’s insistence that he speak to a friend of hers–a hypnotist–about his increasing hallucinations–Adrian has an experience which the reader “sees” but he cannot remember afterwards that suggests he’s encountered either another personality or a rather diabolical past life. In the words of the official description for this issue, it seems like something has “come back with him”, something dangerous, from the regression experience.
But, to what extent are the hallucinations and the dangerous personality “really” Adrian? Are they part of him or outside of him? What are his chances in battling himself? This book poses a lot of questions, and leaving them unanswered is going to be part of the escalating tension of the book.
Regression is an intriguing new title that will certainly create suspense for the reader early in their reading experience. But ready yourself for some truly frightening comics–the creative team have managed to create a very unusual atmosphere where the line between reality and dark visions is very carefully blurred, making for an intense tale.
Regression #1 is currently in shops, and Regression #2 arrives on June 14th, 2017.