Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jack T. Cole
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Cover: Jack T. Cole
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
A new book from BOOM! Studios, The Unsound #1 follows a mental health professional, Ashli, on her first day working at the Saint Cascia psychiatric hospital. What starts as a normal day, becomes a psychological undertaking that has Ashli questioning everything around her.
We join Ashli as she leaves for work, and makes her way through the city. Over several pages, we see examples of what some might consider “everyday crazy”, like her hoarder neighbor, a lady with dozens of cats in her tiny apartment, and a street preacher demanding people to repent. Though it’s not made clear, this could be a way of Bunn showing that the hospital’s patients may not be the most unstable in this world. Our time at the hospital is spent making the rounds, being introduced to colorful characters that range from the seemingly sane, to the self-masticating crazed. After slicing her hand open on a razor blade she’s disposing of(I’d expect more from a trained medical professional), she starts questioning her own senses.
Cole uses a muted palette of pastels that fits well with his wispy art style. What starts as a bright reality, darkens as our protagonist falls deeper into the hospital’s secrets. The art is very stylized, reminiscent of some spanish artists like Emma Rios or Javier Rodriguez. It seems pretty straightforward, but after going back through the issue I found several easter eggs in the backgrounds of panels. Kelsey Dieterich also did a wonderful job of designing the book. Overall, I enjoyed the art, but look forward to the story reaching the spectacles depicted on this issue’s incredible cover.
A lot of my thoughts on this book are what I may just be imprinting on it. The story is scarce, and everything seems vague. I can’t tell if this was done purposely, allowing the reader to imagine their own encroaching horrors, or if the creators just couldn’t fully break the story in 22 pages. Either way, this felt like it could have been a zero issue, just setting up the main plot. This is further implied by the title page being at the end of the issue, like this was just a cold open of a movie.
While it’s just the tip off the iceberg, this book has a beautiful art style and promises plenty of psychological horrors to keep you awake at night. Fans of “American Horror Story” or “Legion” will feel right at home in the halls of Saint Cascia. Some of the most interesting characters and aspects of the story are only introduced briefly, but give you plenty of reason to stick with this title.