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The Unsound #1 Review

I quite like to be scared.

Maybe this is common, but my days of enjoying a jump scare fest like a Jason or Freddy movie are long gone, and I go for more creeping terror. The psychological horror that sticks to you, and raises goosebumps and makes you run up the cellar stairs, certain that something is right behind you, teeth gleaming.

The Unsound? Not scary.

The Unsound
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jack T. Cole
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

I guess I can see potential here. The basic snapshot is, creepy insane asylum and new nurse. Not exactly breaking new ground, but hey: Shutter Island was a retread, and still a good read.

This just doesn’t seem to get off the ground for me.

There’s many a beat that’s supposed to help build dread. Abandoned razor blades left all around the asylum as a “prank.” Disembodied voices talking about princes and drooling. Menacing government-esque agents in black suits and wrap-around shades.

It just doesn’t work for me. The various separate pieces could elicit that slow build scare, but they don’t, and I think I know why: I don’t care about this protagonist at all, and none of the weird things she sees are all that uncommon in a big city!

Look! Kindly old people!

Disgusting people on the subway with creatures in urine filled jars!

Regarding Ashli herself, she feels like there’s a lot hidden beneath that placid interior, but without any insight into who she is, I’m not connected yet.

The artwork feels very “indie”–a good vibe for a horror comic, as the more unfinished aspects and less polished and computer graphic-like updates the big two use don’t fit as well here. Also, I cut my teeth on the Sandman comics, so gritty art for this type of read is always welcome.

The plot is the problem for me. We’ve seen the nurse with a past, who can’t get her s--t together. It’s the same trope as most of the final girl pieces – this one’s odd in some way, so she’ll survive. The tough as nails other nurse here – Nurse Jeffers – is toast. She’s stealing pills, and is an a-----e so the rules say she must die.

I guess, reading the preview for this, I expected something more unique. The issue ends with a pretty compelling final scene that could be the true act one, and maybe this issue is just a very bad pilot, but I don’t know.

I’m going to give this a chance here. This first issue was uninspiring, but the artwork saved it from being a total loss. I need to care about this protagonist a lot more to care about this story though, and I hope to see that start to shine through.

The Unsound #1
Is it good?
While the art does an admirable job of trying to carry a creepy story, the tale itself doesn't raise a goosebump. The bones are there, and maybe this can rise above the cliche haunted building and plucky final girl, but the jury is out.
Horror art should be messy and off-putting, and the slightly out of focus and almost rustic art here suits it well
Passes the bechtel test!
Just not enough of a scary premise at this point to build any real dread without turning the cliche around
If I know nothing about your main character, I'm going to hope the monsters win
Episodic nature might not lend well to a long scary narrative, as it might rely too much on end scares each issue. We will see.

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