By: Rachel Freeman
The Unsound is published by BOOM! Studios. It is written by Cullen Bunn with art by Jack T. Cole.
The Unsound is the latest supernatural horror tale from Cullen Bunn. It follows Ashli Granger, a young woman who begins a job as a nurse at Wiermont Psychiatric Hospital. Despite it’s reputation and…admitted personnel, Ashli wants to be here because she wants to help people. Ashli is naive. In this issue, we watch as her very first day on the job becomes a nightmare. It’s very clear this is no ordinary hospital. Hell, it may not be a hospital at all. Lunatics, monsters, silent men in black suits taking patients to their “sessions”. Are these people lab rats for scientific experiments? Sacrifices to the devil? Maybe even both. What a world we are tumbling in to…
In this first issue, a lot happens, but at the same time, nothing happens. Which sounds strange, I know, but it makes total sense and works amazingly well. So we have Ashli, who lives in run-down apartment with a hording neighbor and a crazy cat lady, living in a big busy city and taking a train to work (which is all pretty normal minus the person with jars full of who knows what and talking to said jars), but all of the busy stops when she gets of the train. She, very calmly, walks through what seems to be a deserted part of town and up to the giant (and quite frankly, terrifying) hospital, Saint Cascia. We meet Nurse Simone Jeffers, a very busy and to the point individual. She mentions several times that the hospital is under staffed and you can just tell from the dialogue how fast she’s speaking. Next, we meet Claire, a heroin addict who claims she isn’t crazy and ultimately, I can believe it. That is, until Josh comes along. But who is Josh? He’s in normal clothes and he doesn’t address himself as “nurse” or “doctor” or even “director”. So, I really take what he has to say with a grain of salt as well. I feel like we’ll need to do that with everyone in this place. Minus Xerxes. He’s pretty straightforward in his psychotic-ness but he definitely knows some shit. And we meet these people and we see some really weird stuff, but at the same time, nothing comes from it. Not until the end.
Pros: This issue sucked me in immediately. I could hear how fast Nurse Jeffers was talking, I could hear the low-key nervousness in Claire, I could hear the creepiness in Xerxes voice, the dialogue for each character was perfect. Initially, I thought I wasn’t going to like the art. The preview pages I saw, I wasn’t swept away. But pairing the art with the full story, it fits. It makes sense. It adds to the tone and setting of the story so much more than I previously thought it would.
Cons: It’s hard to tell the “patients” from the workers. I mean, maybe that’s the point? But It threw me. I mean, there’s people in hospital gowns spouting crazy stuff and then there’s Claire who is dressed normally. On top of that, Nurse Jeffers keeps saying they’re understaffed…maybe that’s because she’s the only staff? Is she staff? Is there even a staff?
OVERALL SCORE: 9 / 10
I was very impressed with this first issue. Horror generally isn’t a genre I connect with BOOM! Studios, but this series may change that. If you like horror and supernatural, then you’ll definitely like this book. Make sure you stop by your local comic store and get a copy!