"Empty Man #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Jesus Hervas
Colored by Niko Guardia
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 2nd, 2019
The Whisper Oracles are coming. They have their sights set on Melissa Kerry, who has been infected with the Empty Man disease. This cult is turning violent and they're willing to go to great lengths to get their hands on this woman, even if that means fighting their way through the entire neighborhood. Monica Jensen and Owen Marsh from the joint FBI / CDC task force are hoping to save the Kerrys from this bloodshed, but that's easier said than done.
I'm continually amazed by the twists and turns The Empty Man takes. Every time I think I have it figured out, writer Cullen Bunn takes it in a new direction. It takes from a variety of horror tropes to build this chilling narrative that keeps you on your toes. This issue moves fast, as the Whisper Oracles waste no time in putting their plan into work.
The cold and calculating manner of this cult is one of the scariest things about this comic. They see Kerry as one of their own, like a lost sheep and they intend to reunite her with the flock. They're all drinking the Kool-Aid and believe this with every fiber of their being.
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Artist Jesus Hervas crafts this violence in the most disturbing way possible. The Whisper Oracles descend upon the Kerry household and the other houses in the neighborhood like a mob. They're all clad in black and wearing ski masks. They're carrying guns, axes, and machetes. It really looks like an invasion. Innocent people are pulled from their cars and beaten to death. Others are sitting at home when their door is kicked in and they're shot to pieces. This is what this disease does to people.
The Empty Man #3 starts out in the cool blue of the night. The street is lit by the moon and a handful of street lights. When the cult descends upon the neighborhood, blood is thrown everywhere. Colorist Niko Guardia gives is a deep red shade. It doesn't fly off the page in a pulsing bright color. Instead, it pools in this sickly shade.
The delusions extend to Kerry and to Monica as well. The latter is keeping it at bay with some special medication, but it flares up from time to time. There are some creepy moments where Monica comes face-to-face with another infected and they seem to sense her. They can recognize one of their own and that shakes the agent to her core.
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The Empty Man is full of frightening segments like this. At one point, Monica uses her phone to call for help, but it's intercepted by the Whisper Oracles. The exchange is terrifying and it shows on her face as someone on the other end tells her that the Empty Man made them do it. Letterer Ed Dukeshire delivers these words in such a perfectly unsettling manner.
There are some great segments where we flash to what an infected is seeing. The virus shows itself to them in this weird way, like veins popping out all over someone's face. This is just one of the hallucinations at work and it never stops being creepy.
There's a major element revealed in The Empty Man #3 that takes this disease to new heights. Hervas creates this absolutely insane final page cliffhanger that I can't wait to see explored further. We're talking jaw-dropping stuff here.
The Empty Man is like Contagion mixed with The Purge. This disease has not just caused widespread panic, but there are literal riots in the streets as it's driven people to violence. The Kerrys give us a human face to all of this and their tale is nothing short of riveting.