By Daniel Vlasaty
I’ve been a horror fan for almost as long as I can remember. It started when I was eight or nine when my mom introduced me to horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby and Poltergeist and The Return of the Living Dead. I remember we used to go to the video store every Friday on our way home and we’d both pick out one horror movie and we’d watch them over the weekend and see who picked the better one. Some of them were good, some of them were bad. Most of them were probably movies an eight or nine-year-old kid should not be watching but whatever. Lately, though, I think I’ve gotten kind of bored with the genre. I haven’t really been excited about anything horror related (movies/books/comics) in a long time. Cullen Bunn and Danny Luckert’s Regression is a book that is breaking through that slump. I’m not going to go so far as to say that it’s rekindled my love for the genre, but it’s a solid, creepy-crawly offering in a genre oversaturated with crap, in my opinion.
In Regression #3 we see Adrian’s past life and his current one becoming one and the same. No matter how hard he fights or tries to keep the thoughts and images and bugs at bay it’s getting to a point where he’s no longer in control. He is regressing to that past life, and it’s completely changing him in the process. Usually quiet and meek and shy, by the end of this issue those characteristics seem to be gone in him. And in the last few panels, where we meet this new Adrian, you can see that he’s changed. It’s in the look on his face, no longer broken and defeated. And in his posture, he seems to be standing more upright and not all hunched over like he’s trying to protect himself from the world. And especially in his smile, which shows us so much of his intentions and desires.
Cullen Bunn is taking his time with the story, building more and more with each issue, adding more and more layers onto Adrian and all of those around him. His use of pacing has somewhat of an emotional effect. He’s playing games with us here, really giving is us time with the characters to create and emotional connection between us and them, and also between each of them. You can tell that Graymercy is suspicious of Adrian, but there’s more to it than that. It’s almost like he relates to him on another level (maybe their love of toys and memorabilia – I don’t know). I believe I might have said this in one of my previous reviews, but the way the story’s taking shape, the way things are unfolding and coming to light, this is some deep-seeded horror. Not any of that PG shit. This is horror that goes further than jump-out scares and gore to replace a lacking story. Don’t get me wrong, though, Regression has plenty of gore – it’s just that it doesn’t seem excessive or unnatural. It has a purpose. Regression is the kind of horror that takes root in your brain, festers there for a while, stays with you. This is the kind of horror that makes you suspicious of every fly you see and every spider you cross and every naked woman covered in bugs in your bed.
Danny Luckert’s art is great. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, as long as I keep reviewing books he does the art for. His shit’s just good. And coupled with Marie Enger’s colors, it’s even better. It’s simple and has a desolate quality to it. Which I think really plays up the isolated feel of the book, especially during Adrian’s scenes. For example there’s two-page spread with Adrian, right after Graymercy is finished interviewing him and he has his “run-in” with the bug lady. It’s kind of a mundane two pages. He’s just looking at his hands and Graymercy’s business card and his hands are shaking and he finally reaches for a beer from the fridge. There are a few bugs scattered throughout the panels and all of the panels are either just blank backgrounds or of trivial things. It’s just a few random and boring panels but I think it means so much more. He’s almost calm for a second, just sipping on a beer. I think it’s showing us when Adrian becomes something or someone different. The change in him. This is one of the things I love about comic books. Sometimes you can get more from the “silent” panels and pages than you can get with the ones full of words and dialogue. Especially in a book like this. Especially in a book where all the creators, the writer and artist and colorist, seem so in tune with one another.
The best way I can describe Regression right now is that it’s a quiet horror book. That to me just means it’s more of a slow burn. It’s not worried about scaring you right here and now with cheap thrills and cheesy gore. It wants to burrow deep into your brain and live there for a while, create its hive there. This is the kind of book that stays with you long after you finish it. I can tell. Things seem to be ramping up with how issue #3 ends and I am stoked to see where Bunn and crew take us. Seriously, it’s been a long time since I was this into a horror comic, or anything horror for that matter.