Basilisk Vol. 1
Basilisk Vol. 1, collecting issues 1-4 of the story created by Cullen Bunn & Jonas Scharf, is available for sale in Trade Paperbook (TP) format as of this Wednesday, December 29th. I’ve been pulling this book by the issue and was anxious to see how it read as a collection. Since many of us choose to “trade wait” so we can afford more comics, I’ll avoid spoilers as best I can!
By: BOOM! Studios
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by: Jonas Scharf
Color by: Alex Guimarães
Lettered by: Ed Dukeshire
IF LOOKS COULD KILL
The title itself really tells more than anything else I can share. Anyone wondering what a basilisk is? I am snake phobic, so I remembered that it was most definitely a dangerous sort of snake, but a basilisk is not just any serpent. It’s a mythical one, and literally has looks that can kill. The eyes of a basilisk are lethal weapons. That should be enough to give you a clue as to why a modern master of horror like Cullen Bunn might want to reunite with Jonas Scharf, the co-creator of Bone Parish, to spin a story like this.
SUPERNATURAL POWERS UNITED
Again, without saying more than is in the basic description of this story, Basilisk is the story of a collective group of beings who look like humans but have the superhuman power of basilisks. And when I say collective, I mean it literally; they also share a hive-mind. We begin the story knowing that one of them has split off from the group to deal with guilt from past actions. We also know that a past victim is tracking them with vengeance in mind. And that, dear reader, is all the plot you get out of me. If it’s a good enough place for BOOM! Studios to stop sharing, it’s good enough for me.
In this first arc, we get an idea of the universe that’s been built, who lives in it, and how things work for these members of the collective, anyone who is exposed to them, and their affiliates and enemies. In sum, their world is built quickly and compellingly. We get an idea of the past of the collective, and how they got to the present. Most of all, we get a chance to be curious. I left each chapter of this collection with questions about what was to come. I must confess, it was nice to be able to keep reading rather than waiting for the next issue, as much as I am enjoying pulling this story. But that is as much because Bunn and Scharf are as skilled at hinting at the answers to questions as they are setting up further curiosities to keep this reader interested. This is an page turning read, with a good mix of suspense, horror, and details about the humanity of the relationships among this group.
Artistically, this book is well done. I love the details, from the fonts used for different parts of the narrative (especially the hand journaling), to the texture of the repeated design echoing the title design. The pattern used reminds me of some tribal mud cloth patterns I have seen and admired over the years in textiles of some cultures in African countries without appropriating them. They are instead evoked in ways that suggest ancient origins, and they are very eye catching and alluring for me personally.
Scharf’s art and color palettes are used to full effect. They convey both the horror this collective can unleash, and flashbacks to the journey the group members have made together over time with clear changes to texture and color. In other words, the art acts as an inviting guide through which we learn to understand as much as we are able to at this point in the story.
Between all of the elements revealed and questions unleashed, this arc definitely leaves me wanting more, and I am ready for the story “to be continued.” There is plenty I still do not know, and perhaps more importantly, there are also ample reasons to care whether I find out more.
As I concluded this TP, I asked myself, would I have enjoyed this better the way I collected it, or as a Trade Paperback alone? My answer? Yes. I really like each format very much. I did enjoy the bonus that this TP allows me to see more of the variant covers in detail, and since I tend to collect A covers except in very special circumstances, I look forward to this when it is part of any collected volume. More Bunn please. Anything that can make me want more Basilisk, or anything remotely Serpentine that is not on Earth, Wind & Fire’s Greatest Hits is really quite noteworthy.