Boom! Studios 2017
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Jack T. Cole
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Ashli’s first day as a nurse at Wiermont Psychiatric Hospital turns into a nightmare as a bloody riot sends her fleeing into the bowels of the hospital. Her descent takes her to a hellish world populated by lunatics and monsters, cloaked in a secret history of black magic and heinous scientific experiments.
Uhm wow alright. If you’ve ever seen and enjoyed horror movies that rely upon the storytelling that messes with your mind instead of using the blood and guts then you’ll appreciate this greatly. The setting that Jack puts Ashli in, by that I mean the physical representation, really allows for us have those psychological moments that make you unsettled so that the story itself can seep inside you and fester the whole concept.
One of my earliest memories of being scared was being at my aunt and uncles and my cousins left the tv on, it was a little black an white number, with something about a monkey’s paw that would kill people. That was the beginning of my love of horror and Cullen seems to understand that psychological horror is far more potent than the slasher kind. As we go from Ashli’s apartment building to her job we see her trek through the city that has all these beautiful elements that taken are taken for granted and yet each one can be a source of unimaginable terror under the right circumstances.
Jack’s interiors here are stunning to see. It’s easy to see Jack’s an illustrator one who branches out to the comics medium. His style, attention to detail and his ability to utilise page layouts and bring angles, perspective and backgrounds to create modern old fashioned world full of symbolism. You really have to pay attention to what he puts on the page here because just as in real life there’s so much to see.
The characterisation here is phenomenal and as we see Ashli start her first shift at the new job as a nurse we see just how naive and eager she is. Her innocence is refreshing compared to the cynicism of Nurse Jeffers, or Ratchet if you’d prefer as her experience has left her more than just jaded. Still between her the brief history of the place, her tour and the very skimpy introductions to the patients and staff Cullen weaves one hell of starter tale.
There’s this wonderful, mood, tone and feel to what’s happening here. We’re left with what the heck is this place, what’s the full history and how did someone get the authority to reopen it. The questions may or may not have answers we don’t know yet all we know is that this issue sets up one of the most promising to stories to come along, it’s like crossing Gothika with The House on Haunted Hill. If that doesn’t set your heart racing thinking about it then this isn’t gonna be for you.
This combines stellar writing, plot development with beautiful interiors that will haunt you.