Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artwork: Leila Leiz
Colours: Giada Marchisio
Lettering: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 28th July 2021
Olivia Kade has written a book. A treatise on the true nature of humanity and how our civilised veneer is merely a mask for our true natures, that of blood and teeth and lust. Those who have read Olivia’s book are beginning to react strangely; savage and unfettered, divided into two groups – one embracing their primal desires through random acts of violence and depravity, the other hailing Kade as a prophet, seeking to hasten the coming of a change in the balance of light and darkness.
“Have you read Sutter Cane?” Cullen Bunn clearly has, as this first issue appears to bring us John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness by way of Brian Azzarello and Maria Llovet’s Faithless. This is a series that is setting its stall out early as a mature reader title, with a number of “undressed” cover variants much in the same style, although less subtle, as the erotic cover variants we saw in the first arc of Faithless. There is also a variant cover in the style of a 1980s pulp horror novel, again very much in the style of the books shown in In The Mouth of Madness. I’m sure that as the story progresses we will see more Cullen Bunn in the writing, but this first issue, for me felt like it was a reimagining or homage to, if I’m being kind, of John Carpenter’s story, and with little to disguise its influences.
The fact that this is a Vault Comics title gives me hope. With the exception of Money Shot (which I didn’t hate, but which equally wasn’t really my thing), Vault have produced some of my favourite comics of the last few years, and have a knack of fostering some of the best creative teams out there. And, on his best days, for me at least, Cullen Bunn is an extraordinary story teller, although I do have to say that Harrow County and Cold Spots were the last time I really felt like I was seeing Cullen Bunn on his best day.
Poorly disguised “homage” aside, this is a good story that drops you straight into the action with only the back page blurb to give you any inkling of what to expect. The fact that this is a global “epidemic” is well handled through snippets of media reports and talk shows, and the sudden, explosive violence is really well delivered. I’m not 100% certain whether you’re supposed to like our protagonist in this series, based on this issue I’m going to say no, but there are hints that Olivia Kade is hiding a secret and that outside influences are dictating the mask she wears.
Leila Leiz and Giada Marchisio’s artwork is good. There’s a nicely unsettling moment early on that could, for me, have just held on for another heartbeat before everything goes sideways and the overall character design and feel of the story is suitably dark and sinister. I’m not going to claim a huge familiarity with Leila Leiz’ work but what I have seen is beautifully drawn and overtly erotic which should certainly serve the narrative well going forward.
On the whole, this isn’t a bad first issue but it’s not a great first issue. I think it has the possibility to be a good series when taken as a whole, so while I probably won’t collect the single issues, I will still more than likely wait and grab the collected edition when it comes out.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek