"The Unsound #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Jack T. Cole
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 7th, 2017
Sometimes you can go somewhere and instantly get a weird vibe, like something’s a little off. Based on the vibes coming off of Weirmont Psychiatric Hospital, any sane person would turn tail and run. Not Ashli though. It’s her first day as a nurse and she wants to help people. It’s just that the people here might be beyond help, and not in a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way. It’s more like there are some monsters and crazy dark magic brewing in this place. Seriously, turn around and run.
The Unsound takes a slow stroll from the everyday to the unsettling. It starts out normal enough with Ashli getting ready for her first day at work and taking public transportation out to the hospital. Then there are oddities that pop up here and there, like the homeless man yelling about the end of the world or the person cradling jars of what look like urine on the subway. Quick aside, what the heck is floating in those jars???
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When Ashli emerges from the subway, it’s like she’s in a different world. When she started, the sky was bright and it was a brand new day. Now it’s dark and gloomy, like an ominous cloud hangs overhead. Then she finds a razor blade at the reception desk. That’s weird. That’s just the beginning though. It only gets stranger from here.
Artist Jack T. Cole’s architecture is unbelievable. It’s incredibly well-detailed and feels almost like a photograph. These are real structures. This is contrasted with the characters who often appear flat and lack form, as if they’re person-shaped blobs floating from scene to scene. The anatomy is frequently off, with heads too small for bodies or limbs that are a bit too long.
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Creating scares in comics is exponentially harder than doing it in other mediums. There are no jump scares or soundtracks to frighten the reader. The creative team delivers several terrifying sequences that build on the feeling of unease that flows through every page of The Unsound. Anyone of them would have been enough to send a normal person running to update their resume and look for more work. These moments are rather subtle, which makes them doubly effective. The mind struggles to come to grips with the unnatural and disturbing things it witnesses. They creep up on you, and when you realize what is really going on, you get a shiver down your spine.
The Unsound is a brilliantly paced and unsettling horror comic. It makes Arkham Asylum look like a day spa. The book delivers the kind of terror that gets under your skin. You may want to sleep with the light on after reading it.