Roar Of The Month – CULLEN BUNN
Most comic fans are going to know our ROTM for August 2018. Cullen Bunn is a very well known writer due to both the extreme diversity in his ability as well as the breadth of publishers that have lined up for his services. Bunn has written for “the big 2” as well as a host of independent publishers such as ONI Press, Dynamite, IDW, Dark Horse, VERTIGO, IMAGE, Aftershock, and most recently he’s added BOOM! Studios to the list. OH, he also just successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign for METRO (with Brian Quinn and Walt Flanagan). The man has been published and for very good reason.
There’s certainly an aura to the work of Cullen Bunn. A dark, horror/noir world is definitely a hallmark of Bunn’s approach. He does the style very well and brings a different flair with each story he engages in this fashion. The diversity of his work in just this arena alone is rather amazing. You’ve got a rural supernatural thriller with an underlying grotesqueness (Harrow County), introspective occult mystery (Regression), psychological horror (The Unsound), and a tale of human evil (Unholy Grail). That’s just a taste of how wide he casts his net in just ONE arena of writing. It’s insanely hard to stay in a genre but continue to pump out not only ORIGINAL approaches, but top shelf works. Cullen has absolutely no trouble with this at all. Publishers agree as three of the four books mentioned above are from different imprints.
Though, let’s not get caught up. The horror/noir worlds that Cullen Bunn masterfully wields like Mjolnir isn’t a typecast for the writer. Yes he has a style and zone where he excels each time he puts the “pen to paper” so to speak. Don’t let that over shadow the exceptional work he’s done/does with the comic book super hero endeavor. We’re talking about a man that took one of the most popular characters in the Marvel universe (Magneto) and spin a personal redemption story that would make the most die hard Peter Parker fan rally behind rally behind the perennial bad guy. He then took that character and piloted an Uncanny X-Men book with a ferocity fitting of the lineup (Magneto, Sabretooth, Psylocke, Fantomex, Mystique). Yes it was dark but it also explored interpersonal dynamics of characters constantly on edge in a world trying to expedite the mutant’s deaths. The work with Magneto and that cast of X-characters was absolutely wonderful. Though, it might be his work with Moon Knight that gives one of the best examples of how good Cullen is. The ‘new’ approach to Marc Spector and his psyche is tough enough for readers with the depth and fracturing that has been added. What Cullen did though, was take those elements and focus them on the dynamic between Spector and Konshu. There’s an ambiguity introduced and Spector’s thought process drifts from him being dependent on Konshu to whether or not he even needs him at all. Exceptional insight and an entire new level to the Moon Knight character is explored.
We could continue the dive into the deep end with these books with Sinestro (where Cullen spins the take of Sinestro’s classic relationship dynamic with Hal and turns it back on him through Lyssa Drak) or the unbridled rage unleashed in Darth Maul. The larger point is that you’d be hard pressed to find an avenue of comic writing that Cullen Bunn hasn’t ventured into. Even further, you’d be hard pressed to find an avenue he hasn’t built a 5* resort on. Just take a look at the book that is perhaps Cullen’s great opus, The Sixth Gun. Western fantasy, magic riddled, old world politics with an otherworldly power underneath is quite the romp just from the description alone. Though, taking this bad boy in is something you need to do. The combination of elements and storytelling ability within is a master class. And this, leads us to the focus on the current state of Cullen’s writing:
Two issues in, and this one is shaping up to be as good/better than it’s spiritual parent. One of the few qualms people had with 6th Gun was the slow character build. Not here. With just two issues we have two dynamic sets of characters and two striking narratives forming. Cullen has taken the already well built world from the previous work and managed to expand on it and immediately improve on it straight out of the gate.
SOLICIT – Plagued by ghastly waking nightmares, Adrian reluctantly agrees to past life regression hypnotherapy. As his consciousness is cast back through time, Adrian witnesses a scene of horrific debauchery and diabolism. Waking, he is more unsettled than before, and with good reason—something has followed him back. Adrian descends into a world of occult conspiracy, mystery, reincarnation, and insanity from which there is no escape – Surprise, this is character driven! The horror is the backdrop (though extremely creepy and skin crawling) for an exploration of self while finding out that what you were scared of, you didn’t even know it existed. Add to that, that what you see in the past (that you’ve conjured up to try and fix your present) won’t stay there? Yes, this is a daunting horror story with a personal hit.
SOLICIT – The wickedness of mankind has moved the Creator to destroy the world by way of the flood. Noah has been tasked with building an ark to save his family and the animals of the world. But this is not Noah’s story. For darker powers have commanded the sorcerer Shrae to build his own ark and save the unnatural creatures of the world; the vampires, the dragons, the naga, and the manticore. But what will happen on a vessel crawling with monsters, where insidious intrigue and horrific violence are the rule of law – Another example of the breadth that Cullen displays with his dark writing. Biblical in source, this other side of the coin story about the The Flood that God used to wipe the Earth clean brings unique devices to tell the tale of evil. There are monsters, and there are monsters. Who or what though is truly the face of evil and damnation? Is it even a choice or is it forced upon some?
SOLICIT – A new drug is sweeping through the streets of New Orleans, one made from the ashes of the dead. Wars are being fought over who will control the supply, while the demand only rises. While the crime families wage war, users begin to experience terrifying visions of the dead coming back to life-through them –
This is a knock out debut issues. The premise is fresh and we’re dropped right smack into things. The age old turf war tale is an overlay for the dark insidious truth behind the newest rage in the drug game. Literally made from the bones of the dead, what could possibly go wrong on a trip? for those pushing it?
SOLICIT – Psychological terror, the undead, and a supernaturally bitter cold come together in present day. 10 years ago, Dan Kerr turned his back on his wife and unborn daughter. Now, both mother and child have gone missing, and Dan must face cosmic terrors to find them again. He soon finds that ghosts stir when his estranged daughter is near. And as the dead grow restless, the cold deepens –
There’s long been the association of cold with the dead. It’s a natural correlation as the warmth of life is literally no longer present within the body after death. Folk tales of “chills” when someone walks over your future grave persist as well. With this entry Cullen plays on these familiar known elements to bring about a creeping dread born out of real life regret.
IN SHOPS AUGUST 22nd!
ASGARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Be sure to follow Cullen to keep on top of his work! We’ve just scratched the surface of what Cullen has brought to this great community. Dive in and engage with one of the most talented and genuine writers in comics.