I’m not going to lie, I originally jumped at the chance to review this issue because of the title. I’m a big fan of The Black Tapes podcast, and for those who don’t know, in that story, the Unsound is an urban legend about a sound which if you hear it, you will die one year later. Based on what I just read, this may or may not have anything to do with The Unsound by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Jack T Cole.
Bunn, whose series The Empty Man has a film adaptation currently in development with Fox Studios, said that The Unsound was “in many ways…a sister series to The Empty Man”, allowing him to develop “a new horrific mythos”. The Empty Man features a contagious insanity that becomes an epidemic, so it’s unsurprising that The Unsound also concerns mental illness (“unsound” as in “sound of mind”, not “un-sound”, as it turns out). But, for anyone who made my lexical mistake, not to worry; there’s plenty of mystery and conspiracy here.
Despite the fact that there isn’t a lot of dialogue in this first issue, Bunn and Cole work together nicely to establish character. Protagonist Ashli is starting a new job at a poorly funded, understaffed, overcrowded mental health facility. Her new supervisor is brusque and hardly impressed with Ashli’s work thus far… and possibly stealing some of the patients’ medications for herself.
There’s certainly tons of creepy atmosphere, and a lot of unexplained elements that must be foreshadowing for later in the series, and Cole certainly is able to provide illustrations that increase the readers’ uneasy feelings and blur the edges of Ashli’s reality and the eerie visions she begins having once she has entered the institution. The one downside is that it is occasionally difficult to follow what is happening in the story. Cole’s characters also don’t seem to have a wide range of expression, which makes their reactions to the creepy things that happen as unsettling as the creepy things themselves.
So even though so far the story has nothing to do with the urban legend Unsound, it’s got a very intriguing start, and will definitely have curious readers coming back for more.