What kind of horrors destroying humankind have we seen? Zombies? Bold-faced check. Diseases that turn us into zombies? Done and done. Flesh eating titans? Animatedly done. How about a contagious form of hallucinations that make people act in violent or suicidal ways? Just to add to the crazy, people are not fleeing from terror from other humans. These people are worshiping this madness. This is The Happening on a crazy level to the power of say whaaaaat?! Boom! studios grants us this madness in their comic series The Empty Man. Two agents from opposite fields work together to find patient zero and end it all. Walter Langford works for the CDC and Monica Jensen works for the FBI. The Empty Man has been described as a police procedural mixed in with an X-files vibe. Considering I still can’t watch an episode of X-Files because the scary theme song, reading this comic succeeded in wanting me to stock up on weaponry and door locks.
At first glance, the cover fell flat for me. It seemed a bit off. The male character (Walter) reminded me of Gomez Addams and the female character (Monica) reminded me of Martha Jones from Doctor Who posing in a chalky field. I expected this comic to be boring just based off that; until I noticed the ridiculously large river of blood flowing near their feet.
I was sucked in from the first page. This is the second issue of the series but I did not have any trouble figuring out what was going on. Everything worked well to make my skin crawl even while reading this mid afternoon on a scorching summer day. Something about the way the art is slightly off, almost like a distorted effect that plays with your eyes as you read.
The violent hallucinations in the comic remind of a real world horror. There is a drug called “Yaba” (translated means : Madness Drug) in Thailand. Once taken, people can become so crazy that they will run out in the middle of a busy intersection and stab people. So unlike zombies, this can happen. So can the religious aspect of the comic’s anti-vaccine craze. It can happen.
I did pick up on something possibly mystical in the comic. It sounds like people are willing to go into these hallucinations because there is place that they see. Mumblings of a “a painted door”. Are these acts of violence access to portals? Gateways to a better place? A worse place? During an interview, the creator mentioned that he had the idea while traveling on an open road. He was distracted by fluttering debris and thought, “The Empty Man made me do it”. Chills.
My interest, despite my paranoia, has definitely been piqued and I will look forward to reading the next issue. After making sure the door is locked and a weapon is nearby of course. Even though I am the biggest wuss there is, I did enjoy reading this.
For this paranoid reviewer, all I can say is YOLO.
(You Outta Look Out)