"The Unsound #5" 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 October 25th, 2017
St. Cascia is much more than just an asylum. It's a gateway to something far more terrifying that taps into insanity itself. Ashli may have started today as a nurse, but she's found a deep connection to this place. Now that she's trapped deep beneath the asylum with a number of surviving patients and workers, she doesn't see a way out that doesn't involve more bloodshed.
If I had to pick one word to describe The Unsound, it would be “unsettling.” This is a comic that cannot be predicted. Each twist and turn is entirely unique and filled with terror. For example, after a strange group therapy session, Ashli reveals a startling secret from her past and then razor blades start raining down from the ceiling, slicing through the flesh of everyone else in the circle. Think about that for a second. You don't have an umbrella strong enough to handle a razor blade storm.
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Artist Jack T. Cole creates these alarming snapshots of the blades hanging in mid-air around the characters. In that moment in time, they're harmless, but a split second later, they become deadly. The first panel on this page looks rather beautiful as you can't entirely tell what's happening. It's only as you continue through the page and realize what's raining down on everyone that the fright factor gets turned up to eleven.
It's hard not to put yourself in Ashli's shoes, a seemingly sane person in an insane world. The things surrounding her should not be. They defy all laws of physics and reality. She has a near permanent look of shock on her face as her mind grapples with these abnormalities. I can say that my facial expressions matched hers, as writer Cullen Bunn presents a gripping tale. Real terror can be tough to do in comics, as the medium doesn't have the same benefits as film or television. If you ever had any doubt that comics can terrify you, look no further than The Unsound.
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Each chapter of this book has ratcheted up the horror to a new level. Every time I think it's peaked, the creative team takes it a step further. It's not a particularly gruesome comic. It's the tension that gets you, as it never lets up, even for a second. Ashli doesn't get a moment to catch her breath or regain her composition. She's bounced from one horrifying thing to another before she can really wrap her head around any of them.
The building itself is scary, even without the psychopaths walking its halls. It's vast and way too big for the space it's in. You can see how easy it would be to get lost in it and never see the light of day again. There is somehow a million places to hide and yet none of them are reliable.
The Unsound is insanity unhinged. When you can't trust your own mind, the entire world becomes way scarier. I have no earthly idea as to where this comic is going to go next, but I'm certain it's going to shake me to the core. It's the type of comic that will leave you shaking from fright, yet begging for more. It's a perfect horror comic.