WHAT IN THE HELL DID I JUST READ? Nameless has been one of those horror/sci fi comics that filled me with some serious expectation that it would be a bona fide hit when it was first released. A full throttle ride down the terror train that would inhabit my thoughts and creep me out for several days after I finished reading it. And in regard to the artwork of Chris Burnham, it has been just that. The images are really twisted and evil with a nastiness to them that really invoke a strong gasping response.
But now four issues into this story, I do not believe that the writing has quite matched that dark intensity portrayed in the art. It feels like we are floating aimlessly from nightmare to nightmare with no idea where the endgame may be. We are lost, abandoned, missing in action.
And if there is any issue in this series so far that matches that description perfectly, it is here within the pages of Issue #4. This one is one psycho-cosmic mind trip of a read that will shock you and leave you confused all at the same time. It is the stuff of full on schizophrenia…A psychotic break on the printed page.
And I am simply not happy with that. Especially after the cover to this one had me hooked immediately. That, and the ending of Issue #3 that had given me renewed expectations of a story that has not quite captured my imagination as of yet. There is a lot of darkness, a lot of mysticism, and a lot of spookiness. But everything has thus far felt too tightly packed in and thrown at you like a freak show trying to bring awe with no substance. This bearded lady just isn’t bringing it.
I don’t really know how to even go about explaining this issue. It might be a dream. It might be reality. It might be some musings of a criminally insane mind. Who the hell knows? The only thing that is certain is that this issue has lots of falling, Twisted Tarot cards, primordial evil ooze, mind controlling somethings, voices from unknown origins, and carnage…Lots and lots of carnage. The gross out factor is heavy within this issue as it hits on nearly every page. It is intense and not for the squeamish to be sure.
But as intense as the nightmare imagery is (thank you very much Chris Burnham), the writing is simply not there. We have an epic undertaking on a one dimensional scale with unbelievable art, but no plot line that is coherent or even able to be followed. Nameless isn’t only the name of our primary character. It also details the description of the story. There is no name that I can put onto it.
And I find this particularly disappointing, as I have been a fan of one of the OGs of the comic writing world for a long time. Grant Morrison’s work on Animal Man in the late 1980s was some of my fondest reading experiences back then. His Batman work is considered legendary. And many of his own creations have reached into those dark corners of the mind’s eye that make you think, stirs you up, and creeps you out too. It really troubles me that I have not enjoyed this work as I thought I would.
All of the elements are there. They are. I want this comic to succeed. And It still can. But something needs to change before the whole story begins the endless fall that covered in much of the pages of Issue #4. Nameless is falling and needs a strong turnaround to right the fall and find its freaky footing, becoming both an artistically stunning thriller as well as a well written mystic mayhem filled work of sci fi horror. I am pulling all the way for that reality to occur. But as for now, we are stuck in the ooze. Not knowing what is what.