Boom! Studios has a good streak with their creator owned titles and it seems like recently they’ve been getting into the horror game more. The Empty Man is a new series from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey about a virus that is driving people crazy. Is it a horror title worth your time? Read on Spoilerite!
Previously in The Empty Man: New Series! The Empty Man pandemic is causing people to go insane and kill themselves in a variety of ways. Some think it’s a virus but it just might be something more evil.
SOME THINGS FAMILIAR, SOME THINGS SICK
There are a lot of things in The Empty Man that have been seen many times before but there are some surprises as well. Something, possibly a virus, is causing insanity in people and making them harm themselves and others. It’s not clear where it started, where the name came from, or if it even is a virus, but Agents Langford and Jensen of the FBI-CDC task force are in charge of finding out. Sound familiar? It’s very X-Files in tone and even the relationship between Jensen and Langford is similar. Langford is a believer that The Empty Man could be more than a virus and Jensen (his female colleague) is skeptical that it’s anything more. The dialogue between the two is good and gives a good understanding of their relationship. There are moments that are creepy, even downright horrifying, and should please horror fans. Heads being smashed, people seeing things in meatloaf, it’s all great stuff. As I read, I was sure that Bunn was crafting something I’d seen many times before. To an extent that’s true, and what is familiar is still done quite well, but he throws some new plot twists in the end as well as a nice cliffhanger that drew back. The addition of cults that worship the Empty Man virus is appealing and the fact that the virus may have mutated into a monster makes me think that Mr. Bunn may have more up his sleeve than I think.
WAS SOMEONE EATING FRIED CHICKEN?
Vanesa R. Del Rey definitely has talent and has developed a style, but it doesn’t work for my tastes. Her lines are thick and her style reminds me of Chris Samnee. Many of her subjects, especially when drawn smaller, have a smeared look. It made me think that she may have been eating fried chicken while illustrating and accidentally smudged the inks. It sounds a bit harsh and certainly is a stylistic choice but it doesn’t attract. Things get somewhat distorted when at angles and the opening horror scene’s action is unclear. Coloring looks off as well and I don’t know if it’s due to Del Rey’s style not meshing well or not. On the plus side, her work fits great with the story with its dark palate and thick lines. She’s effective with the disgusting stuff and is able to convey emotions in faces extremely well. There’s good stuff here, but many of the stylistic choices just didn’t click.
BOTTOM LINE: IF NOT SQUEAMISH, GIVE IT A LOOK
There is enough in The Empty Man #1 for horror fans to try out. Much of the issue has been done before, but Bunn leaves a hint at the end that there will be some twists coming. Fans of bloody, disturbing scenes will have something to enjoy. Del Rey’s artistic style works with the story but I found it lacking. I’m curious enough that I’ll at least read the next issue and I’m holding out hope for new things. It may not be worth dropping the money but readers wanting a creepy horror story should at least give this one a read.