Image Comic’s REGRESSION #3 marks the first time I have been convinced that horror can work in a comic book format. Cullen Bunn has combined an incredibly creepy story with brilliant pacing to deliver a comic book that is genuinely unsettling. Adrian is coming apart at the seams. An innocent trip into past life memories has unlocked something dark and sinister hiding inside him. Slowing taking over, this new consciousness has already murdered the hypnotist responsible and is now out for the other loved ones in Adrian’s life. Flashbacks to a strange cult and a seductive temptress round out this issue that is a visual showcase for what it looks like to see a young man loose his mind.
Real tension is incredibly difficult to pull off in a static medium. In a movie a director can control the suspense of the moment because film is linear, in a comic book the readers eyes are always scanning the page before the first word balloon is read thus subconsciously spoiling a reveal or a monster lurking in the dark. Cullen Bunn and artist Danny Luckert have created tension by keeping the reader in the metaphorical dark via the script and through the unsettling imagery portrayed in the art. As Adrian fall apart you can see visual cues like the insect pests that have been appearing more and more since issue #1. This coupled with a creepy cold open featuring characters we have never met and some strangely horrific pencils make for one of the most unique books I have read in a long time.
If the first issue of a new series is responsible for establishing premise and the second issue establishes character then the third becomes the payoff and REGRESSION #3 pays off in spades. The script is tight and not overly wordy, we learn just enough to know that something is definitely not right and that the forces at work are coming from Adrian’s own mind. I must reiterate again how fantastic the pencils are in this series. A good artist can tell a story and convey a mood without any dialogue and that is exactly what Danny Luckert has accomplished. REGRESSION is quietly becoming one of the books I look forward to the most each month and I really want to spread the word to others who might be missing out.