There's something inherently scary about the unknown, and the team of Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey taps into that fear to bring us The Empty Man #1.
Cullen Bunn (writer of my favorite comic The Sixth Gun) goes Boom! with a horror story that's part Contagion, part Dreamcatcher. resulting in the type of comic you shouldn't be reading alone at night. When FBI-CDC Agent Walter Langford is called to the scene of the latest Empty Man victim, he gets more than he bargained for when he nabs a member of a group called the Witnesses who seems to know a lot more about The Empty Man than he's letting on. And if the last page is any indication, we might not need to wait that long to find out!
I like how Cullen doesn't delve much into The Empty Man phenomenon, choosing instead to pepper the book with subtle hints of how absolutely horrible it is, and it comes across as very effective. You wanna know what it is about The Empty Man that spawned cults and crazies and pastors saying the end is nigh, but all we know is that it's a 'disease' that leaves a trail of bodies and blood and nobody really knows where it came from and how it starts. Anyone can be a victim, and for our poor characters, that's not even the scariest part.
Arist Vanesa R. Del Rey delivers some really stellar work in The Empty Man. Her sketch-like style lends an uneasy, frenzied atmosphere to the book, like there's something sinister scratching at the surface of the seemingly mundane, and the gory scenes are unsettling in its effectiveness. Colorist Michael Garland accents that with muted, almost drab colors that only pop bright red in the presence of glistening blood. There's something to be said about a book that already has me in suspense without having read a single word balloon!
To be honest, I'm not really much into horror, or maybe I haven't seen one that tickles my fancy the way this first issue does. What you don't know might just kill you, but what I do know is that The Empty Man #1 is chillingly good. This gets a 4 out of 5.