BOOM! Studios often delves into the world of well-established IP. With comic book adaptations of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Steven Universe and WWE taking up a fair whack of the release calendar. When a release from BOOM! Studios delves into the dark and macabre you know there’s going to be something different about it. From cover to cover, The Empty Man #1 is that point of difference. Believe me when I tell you, there are spoilers ahead.
The Empty Man #1 depicts a modern day world becoming increasingly insane. An earth struggling to cope with a global epidemic manifested as “The Empty Man” virus. From the start of the first page, this particular comic personifies an element of uncomfortable horror. Although not my preferred style, Illustrator Jesus Hervas creates a messy tone echoing the present day apocalypse that Writer Cullen Bunn pens all the way through. Hervas’ style is an (sort of) uncomfortable chaos enhanced by colorist Niko Guardia’s strikingly bold palette. Its a contrast that works to manipulate comic readers used to the americanised clean style of the 70s and 80s. It worked on me. Chances are it will work on you.
The Empty Man depicts a world not unlike Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later
The Empty Man #1 concentrates on two main parts;
1) the effects the virus of its namesake is having on the Kerry family. Victoria, the teenager. Andrew, the father. Melissa, the Empty Man infected mother.
2) The degradation of society.
The how and why society will regress into the stone age. Turning to various types of metaphorical and figurative idols in the hope to wrap up their own fear and pain. That specific fear is explored in how your neighbour can turn on you. With a religious cult and the FBI thrown into the mix as archetypal antagonists. All the while, the unseen hallucinations of the infected can turn families on one another. Thematically, we’ve seen this all before. A perfect comparison would be to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film. The real villain here is the lack of trust and the bridge of separation constantly being constructed in the lives of the protagonists.