BASILISK, ISSUES #1-2
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Illustrator: Jonas Scharf
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
WHAT IS IT?
Charged with supernatural antics and high-action sequences, a woman endowed with murderous powers flees from her bloodthirsty companions in Basilisk.
Powerful women and an evil cult make Basilisk feel like a mashup of Kill Bill and Midsommar.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A group of five people dressed in turquoise hospital scrubs descend upon a town in the waning twilight of a normal evening. Then, one woman in the group kills a citizen with a mere touch, and all hell breaks loose.
Bound together psychically like a hivemind, these cultish individuals self-labeled as the "Chimera" destroyed the town of Kingsley. Their sense-based powers allowed them to murder at will, unhinged and unmatched. But one of the Chimera, Regan, fled the fold. Two years later, Kingsley-victim Hannah remembers this mass murder. Hannah tracks down and captures the fugitive Chimera imbued with the power of a Basilisk.
Now, Hannah seeks vengeance against the Chimera. Using her mortal enemy as bait to enact justice seems like an ideal plan to Hannah. Unfortunately, Hannah doesn't realize the dangers of luring out a group of formidable superhumans, bloodthirsty for revenge of their own. Reuniting with Regan is exactly what the Chimera craves after their killing spree hiatus.
Cullen Bunn employs the horror genre as a vehicle to comment on humanity and our vices. Bunn's Basilisk script lays out themes about the mental and emotional costs of vengeance, seeking out violence, and allying with dangerous individuals bare for all to witness during these first two issues.
In Basilisk you'll see two visually divergent art styles from virtuoso artist Jonas Scharf. Flashback sequences portraying the Chimera's bloody rampage on the town takes on a retro watercolor composite appearance. Conversely, modern day illustrations are flush with a thickly inked noir flair.
Building on Scharf's visually arresting linework, colorist Alex Guimarães burrows horror into the pages through revolving shadows and light sources. A bold blue and green color scheme direct focus onto Regan and the power simmering behind her blue eye veil.
Master letterer Ed Dukeshire rotates through multiple lettering styles and bile-inducing SFX during gorefest scenes with ease.
General dialogue consists of long, wide typeface closely kerned. Dukeshire forces the letters slightly downward in the right direction, creating an illusive sense of falling before an action-based narrative crescendo.
For a comic about a supernatural, murder-frenzied cult, Basilisk maintains an unhurried pace. The comic meshes thoughtful pacing underpinned by the dreadful sense of the ephemeral.
Scharf's contrasted art styles emerge as paramount in distinguishing between the mystifying hellions comprising the Chimera group in the past and the quiet urgency of Hannah's mission.
The Chimera appear opaque, a fading sepia luster reverberating off their bodies eerily as they impose monstrous acts of violence. Meanwhile, Scharf and Guimarães douse Hannah and Regan in deep shadows and colors through a modern, conventional art style pertinent in reflecting the solemnness of their present predicaments.
Opening scenes introducing Hannah show her writing down her thoughts about her circumstances. Dukeshire carries over this handwritten script within caption boxes to communicate Hannah's internal dialogue. Subtly, this technique by Bunn and Dukeshire allows subtext, revealing insights into Hannah's character.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: A Basilisk can kill you with just one glance. One glance at the gore in Basilisk will dissuade queasy potential readers. Prepare yourself for carnage, blood and guts, self-mutilation, and the horror of watching a cook dunk his face in a boiling fryer in usual Cullen Bunn-authored comic fashion.
In order to show you how villainous these Chimera are, Basilisk #2 depicts excessively violent imagery. The grotesqueness definitely conveys what the comic intends to convey, but it's an emotionally difficult sequence to palate.
Basilisk #1 is a quieter opening issue. Reliant on art interspersed with minimal dialogue, readers may dub the first issue either confusing or lacking in enough content to really sink your teeth into. However, Basilisk #2 vastly improves and expands upon the story, develops the characters, and provides more of that "oomph" factor to keep readers coming back.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
I'm certain I’m not the only one who’s been on a Cullen Bunn comic horror binge lately with his wide array of new titles dropping monthly. Seriously, does he ever take a writing break? How can one person possibly add more innovation to the horror genre? If you're on the Bunn train, you should already be sold, but it's almost certainly Basilisk’s art that will initially entice new readers to this comic. Try not to feel breathless looking at Jonas Scharf's eerily spectacular cover compositions. Those covers present a small taste of the art inside Basilisk, transporting you into a cinematic experience of terror. It's like a horror film you can't look away from with the massacre splayed out in unexpected moments like jump scares.
Needless to say, Basilisk is another great horror comic to add to the sprawling list of horror titles popping up lately. Horror comics have converted me, someone who laughed at the absurdity of most modern "horror" films, into a fan of the genre now. While Basilisk doesn't feel entirely groundbreaking yet due to its slow-burn pace, the Chimera's powers and cult behaviors remain an immersive concept. Basilisk is a terrifyingly intriguing comic in single issues on the road toward achieving cult-like status in trade format.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Harrow County by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook
The Damned: Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus & Chris Shehan
If you like the art:
Bone Parish by Cullen Bunn & Jonas Scharf
Warlords of Appalachia by Phillip Kennedy Johnson & Jonas Scharf
Cold Spots by Cullen Bunn & Mark Torres
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Cullen Bunn – Writer (@cullenbunn)
Name Recognition: Cullen is a comics writer, screenwriter, novelist, and short story writer, well known for his work in the horror genre. He has written for major comic publications such as Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Oni Press, AfterShock and more.
He is the NYT bestselling writer of Dark Ark, The 6th Gun, Harrow County, and Bone Parish.
Multitalented: Cullen has had many jobs including an Alien Autopsy Specialist, Rodeo Clown, Professional Wrestler Manager, Career Consultant, Product and Project Manager, and Director of Marketing. He was also once the world's youngest hypnotist.
Jonas Scharf – Illustrator (@scharf_jonas)
Jonas is a talented illustrator who has worked on comic book titles for publishers like Marvel and BOOM! Studios.
Dream Team: He illustrated Bone Parish, written by Cullen Bunn.
Outlander: Jonas lives in Nuremberg, Germany!
Alex Guimarães – Colorist (@alex_guim)
Alex is a comic book colorist, working for comic book publishers Marvel, DC, Image, and BOOM! Studios.
Dream Team: Alex also colored Bone Parish, written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Jonas Scharf, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.
Outlander: He hails from Brasil, São Paulo
Ed Dukeshire – Letterer (@eDukeDW)
Multitalented: From Boston, Ed is the founder of Digital Webbing, a forum where comic book creators can professionally network, socialize, job post and find work.
Award Winner: He is a Best Letterer Harvey Award nominee for his work on the Boom Studios comic, The Woods.
Ed is also an unapologetic video game junkie.
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All Basilisk characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Cullen Bunn & Jonas Scharf or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED