Note: the title is not intended for younger audiences. It contains nudity, graphic sexual content, violence, and explicitly disturbing scenes of horror.
In Regression #2, we delve into the story of Adrian Padilla, and the aftermath of his decision to see a hypnotist to help him get rid of his nightmares. As the story progresses, strange things start happening to Adrian. His thoughts begin to transform, taking on a personality at odds with his own, hell bent on self-destruction and pushing away those closest to him.
I have seen some work from Cullen Bunn that I thought would cause me to be terrified, like in his work on Harrow County. Yet I was pleasantly surprised by the underlying message in Harrow County about understanding one another despite our differences, and following the golden rule. What I thought would be a horror comic ended up being a message with a deeper meaning and one that explored more wholesome concepts that a stubborn society was fighting their damndest against.
Regression is not one of those works.
Bunn definitely went full dark side for this title. Not that I have any complaints against it. It is a rare thing for something so colorful and bright and visually stunning to also be so morbidly dark and unsettling. The cover art depicts a golden gate with angel statues standing ready to let anything through the opening; a pleasantly atypical gate to paradise. Yet at the opening is a dark and dilapidated tunnel, with who-knows-what waiting to come out from the other end (not to mention the insects crawling beneath the gate). This seems to be only the tip of the iceberg of the theme, as the first panels greet the reader with Adrian puking up a large cricket as he attempts to brush his teeth.
There is a lot of visual storytelling that goes into this and Bunn relies just as heavily on this aspect to carry the story as he does with dialogue and first-person narrative. There is a lot of visual direction that emphasizes the graphic nature of what Adrian is becoming that runs supplemental to the dialogue, and I believe that this is as important in showing the reader as any word bubbles or thought clouds splashed across a page. With the dialogue, Bunn does a lot to relay the sense of urgency from the main character as well as the alienation that happens from other characters because of this. There’s a lot to be said about what isn’t said, but shown. Just as much, there is a lot that is shown from what is said, a glimpse into the alter-personality of Adrian, the distress he feels as his mind is torn apart, and the aftermath of his actions as the authorities are investigating crimes that he has some connection with.
The art style by Danny Luckert is amazing as it is able to show the horrible specifics of what Adrian is going through. Scenes like puking up bugs, a crime scene where there is a pool of blood beneath a carved-up corpse, an impromptu tryst in a filthy stripclub bathroom, or a dream sequence where an orgy turns into a colony of insects looking for their next meal. Luckert is capable of delivering it all in vivid detail. It not only shocks the reader, but shows the story visually, maybe even more so than any thought or dialogue by the main character.
The coloring choice by Marie Enger seems counter to the mood of the comic at first glance. It is a dark and disturbing world, so why would there be colors indicating most of this is happening at high noon? Yet as the story continues, there is a sense that the blatantness of it all happening in broad daylight runs counter to the solution that our main character seeks. The fact that all of this happens under the sun adds to its disturbing quality. Most crimes, as they are hidden by shadows and concealed in darkness, have a sense of shame about them, which is why they are committed during those times. These acts, done in the light of day, show that Adrian (or whoever is controlling him at this point) is unashamedly brazen in his actions, and does not care about who sees him to some extent.
I like surprises in art style and in writing, and when these two come together, the work that is produced tends to leave a lasting impression on the industry. Regression #2 does that in a way that I hate, where now I have to applaud a genre that I am most uncomfortable with: horror. Cullen Bunn is already known for brilliant writing, and this title is no exception to his skill of storytelling. Yet after seeing a few pages from Danny Luckert, I am mesmerized at how he can draw a character so simply yet detail them in such a way to make them utterly disgusting, in tandem with the writing of Bunn no less. And after reading up a bit on Luckert, it seems he is fairly new to the comic book industry with only a few titles under his belt. With what we’ve seen from these pages, I believe he will have a long career as a notable artist for many titles to come.
- Dark and disturbing artwork
- Character regression easily seen in both visuals and dialogue
- Colors highlight the gruesome detail of each scene
- Not a title for younger audiences
- Shocking scenes could leave more of an impression than dialogue at times