Author: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Danny Luckert, Marie Enger
Letterer: Marie Enger
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre(s): Horror, Supernatural
Review Spoilers:  Mild

Let’s get this out of the way first: Adrian, the main character in Regression, looks like a very tanned and/or race-bent Tom Hiddleston. It’s not a bad thing at all. I spent a lot of time looking at the first panel, which shows a straight on facial shot of him as he shakes himself out of a rather gruesome hallucination… and then I found that picture for the featured image so that you could all see it too. Drop me a line in the comments, let me know if it can’t be unseen.

Whether it’s a dream, memory, or something else entirely isn’t quite defined, but whatever it is, it is visceral. Lost in his own head, Adrian imagines a body being cut into. There are all manner of bugs escaping from the abdomen before a rowdy barbequer shakes him out of his dark thoughts and returns him to his present surroundings. As he looks around and continues to be the only one to see maggots, flies, and other creatures on the faces of friends, he flees.

A concerned friend, Molly, follows him and introduces Adrian to Sid, a hypnotist who specializes in regression therapy. He might just be able to get to the bottom of Adrian’s problems. But a test session gone perfectly right may have unleashed something nobody was prepared for. With a shocking cliffhanger, it’s clear that this story is not nearly as straight-forward and formulaic as readers may have guessed from how the story began.

Those with body horror fears be wary, writer Cullen Bunn drops readers into the action immediately with a sequence that will stick with you, which I’ve already made reference to, and bookends the issue with more than one scene that won’t be forgotten easily. 

Pulling from personal experience, Bunn conceived the idea for Regression from watching his father, a professional hypnotist, conduct past life regressions. Believer or not, he claims to have witnessed people describing past time periods accurately, speak languages they did not know, and even creepy regressions that were the inspiration for the story being told.

It’s a solid start to a horror conspiracy story that has so much endless potential I couldn’t begin to guess where the story is going to head next. Bunn is able to masterfully weave that unease into Adrian, maintaining a healthy level of skepticism while also being desperate enough to try anything to cease the mental torture. There’s not much more to him than that yet and the other characters only serve to push the plot forward, but there is enough of a hook to keep me interested in what happens next.

The art team of Danny Luckert and Marie Enger really drive home the muddiness of Adrian’s mental state through a color palette of swampy browns and greens, making the pops of red stand out stark in comparison. All manner of nightmare fuel is represented during Adrian’s hallucinations, from bugs spilling out of a chest cavity to drinking maggots from a beer bottle (my cringiest moment reading the first issue), and isn’t easily forgotten.

With flies that linger through panels and more than one chest-bursting visual, there’s a grittiness and realistic feel to the art that serves to put mounting pressure on the narrative and the main character. It works to keep readers on edge and I think it’ll help keep the book grounded through the premise that past life regressions can make their way out in the present… and not always kindly.

Regression #1 is the kind of opening issue that burrows under the skin like mealworms and leaves readers itchy at the end of it. The exploration of past life regressions and how they’re manifesting in the mind of Adrian is only the beginning, definitely pick this one up if you’re a slow-burn horror fan.

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