REVIEW: Basilisk #2 is Beautifully Unsettling

Basilisk #2 Comic Book Review

Table of Contents

Basilisk #2 Review

Basilisk #2 looks at the horrors humans would unleash upon each other if they were given terrible power. The series is written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Jonas Scharf, coloured by Alex Guimarães, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Forced to confront the horrors of her past, Regan hits the road with Hannah – a victim from her past – who has her own set of secrets. Meanwhile, the other four remaining members of the Chimera find themselves tired of hiding from the world and move to reignite their reign of terror and death.

Basilisk #2 is published by BOOM! Studios! And is available from July 7, 2021.

Basilisk #2, courtesy of BOOM! Studios
Basilisk #2, courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Basilisk #2 Story

The second issue shifts focus a little away from our two main characters of the first issue and brings the terrifying members of the Chimera, and their cult of followers, into scope. Doing so is an interesting move that perhaps not every horror comic would do. By letting us view the Chimera Bunn is sacrificing the potential fear of the unknown they might have had, they turn from mysterious monsters into characters. This is very clearly a calculated move, however, as in doing so Bunn digs deeper into the horror of human nature.

The Chimera, even with their inhuman powers, are very much human. They have desires and needs like anyone else, and it becomes clear that they don’t simply inflict terror because they can. The Chimera are, as much as many may wish to deny it, very much a reflection of humanity, the fact that within each of us is the capability to cause pain and fear. It is not difficult to look at the world and imagine that if people were given powers like they have that things would not turn out much the same.

On top of that, we get a slightly closer look at their cult of followers, regular humans who see their powers and actions as god-like. There are very strong religious overtones to this cult, even so far as to have prayer-like invocations (which the Chimera may or may not care for). Where the Chimera represents the horrors humans may commit for themselves, the cult are what horrors we commit with others.

The first issue showed that Basilisk is going to be a more character-focused horror, while this second issue cements it as one rooted firmly in the human condition. These are the monsters we could become, and the horror of what we may do ourselves is potentially worse than what others may do to us. Bunn is showing an expert handling of these themes, making every page turn intense as we are unsure what new uncomfortable idea awaits us.

REVIEW: Basilisk #2 is Beautifully Unsettling 4

Basilisk #2 Art

Scharf’s art continues to stun, particularly in how uneasy the imagery is. There’s no cheap shock factor here, images are disturbing in large part by how little emphasis it places upon the shocking elements. In at least one panel the horror is a side feature to the main focus of the panel itself. In a way, it reminds me of some 70’s horror films such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

It doesn’t shock you by focusing, instead, it leaves you uncomfortable by sitting on it quietly. The horror is almost simply a part of the setting, an exposition shot to establish where you are. These are images that remain with you, sitting in the back of your mind, even after you’ve put the book down.

The colours by Guimarães only help emphasize this unsettling quality of the images. There’s a wash of single tones across scenes, even more strongly during flashbacks, that create this cold and uneasy atmosphere, even when warmer tones are used. In some scenes the colour palette alone is beautifully uncomfortable. Strong colours are used, but sparingly. Only when it helps create contrast between characters or to invoke strong feelings when things really go bad.

Basilisk #2 Conclusion

It’s two issues in and so far Basilisk is a book that looks as though it very much comes through on its own promises. This is a comic that is unafraid to look at the darker sides of our own humanity and reflect that within the pages and manages to do so without resorting to cheap shock or extremes of gore. It doesn’t need to. It’s smart enough to make you uneasy with only tension and the uncertainty of what horror is to come.

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