Regression (n): a return to a former state; the act of going to a previous place—retrogression.
Adrian has been having nightmares that have manifested during the day time as hallucinations. He sees insects everywhere, crawling in and out of humans’ eye sockets, mouths, noses, everything. What could possibly be happening to him? In an attempt to seek clarification and halt these hallucinations, he sees Sid, a hypnotist friend of a friend. Sid’s way of helping is regression—exploring Adrian’s nightmares, childhood, and past lives. While Adrian doesn’t believe in reincarnation, it is all too real. Something—or someone—from his past comes to haunt him, and he goes back to Sid for help—but Sid is dead. What options does Adrian have left?
I might be a little biased when I say that this script is flawless, just because I’m a huge Cullen Bunn fan. I mean, have you read Harrow County? Bunn pulls aspects of this story from his own life. In an analysis of the plot at the back of this issue, we come to find that Bunn has witnessed a lot of hypnotism and regression, seeing and hearing people talk about their past lives in such immense detail. But one subject of regression always stayed quiet. Thinking the past was too horrid for him to remember, it worried Bunn—“like chittering insects”—for years. This book is the imagination-fueled story of that man and his possible past lives.
Bunn talks about a lot in this issue, and gives us plenty to think about—the power of hypnotism, the concept of reincarnation, the theory of the “soul,” the truth about mental health, and so much more. There’s a lot more happening in this script than a dude who hallucinates. Themes this heavy make the issue seem really dramatic, and rightly so. None of these themes are jokes, and should never be taken as such. The subtext alone is enough to keep me hooked.
However, on the surface, the writing is just as good. The dialogue between characters is natural and believable. This issue keeps up a great, steady pace because of the dialogue alone. We’re also able to sympathize quite a bit with Adrian—or at least I am—because of how vulnerable he is portrayed to be. He’s a normal guy wanting to live a normal life, but is plagued by something that keeps him from doing so. We’ve all been there, we all have problems, we all have something or the other to deal with. We can relate, so we’re on Adrian’s side. As much as we want him to be rid of his hallucinations, though, we want to delve deeper into his psyche to see where the heck they’re coming from. The digging has just begun, and it looks promising…
Danny Luckert’s artwork in this issue perfectly illustrates the script. That steady pacing is in large part due to the fluidity of the panel layout and clarity of the pencils. Luckert gives us really clean lines, expressive characters, detailed facial features, and a two page splash of the regression that we so desperately want to see. Marie Enger’s realistic colors make for a believable story, but when Adrian hallucinates, we get a lot more of a dramatic tone. The insects are dark, shaded heavily, and look repulsive in the best way possible.
The creative team on this series has done a fantastic job with issue #1, and the story is as captivating as it is disturbing. This is definitely a series to keep an eye on.
Written by: Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by: Danny Luckert