‘The Empty Man #3: Comic Book Review

In the first two issues of The Empty Man, Cullen Bunn was revving his engines. In this issue, he steps down hard on the gas pedal.

Something bad is infecting people, or has always been a part of people, and it’s been awakening, making them violent, making them crazed. Zoom in on one family: father, mother, and daughter. In a situation that’s societal, it’s good to focus in on the microcosm for emotional resonance, but that isn’t all that’s going on. The mother is infected. The father is keeping her in the attic where she bangs her head on things until she bleeds.

The father and daughter are approached by two different people. A weird religious group shows up at their home and tells the father that they will help with the mother. Meanwhile, someone from the FBI approaches the daughter and offers her their help. With these two parallel organizations represented by some strong characters in play, this third issue plows forward in some truly unexpected, but thrilling, ways.

Bunn knows how to pace a story, and he knows how to build tension. Artist Jesús Hervás is really taking advantage of that. Together, they are tapping into some solid genre tropes, tropes that when used well get under my skin. They are weaving them in and out of each other quite well. This issue was very much a home invasion scenario with cult-like, Resident Evil-style undertones.

Hervás knows when to go detailed and when to go minimal to create certain emotional effects. Careening through this visual [race car] circuit is a pleasure, and like a full-speed, souped-up circuit race, the results are thrilling.

While it’s a little early to talk about thematic content, I do have to take a moment to point out the potential political underpinnings or at least influences that are starting to pop up. Horror has always been a way to reflect something about the society we’re living in: from Romero’s Dawn of the Dead to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Again, it’s too early to tell, but with some very specific visual choices and the choice of antagonists, under the violence and terror, we may be witnessing an allegory of sorts unspooling.


Creative Team: Cullen Bunn (writer), Jesús Hervás (artist), Niko Guardia (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Marie Krupina (designer), Eric Harburn (editor)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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