So, let’s say you bump into an old acquaintance. You haven’t seen this person in years, and there’s this instant spark and, suddenly, you fall into a deep emotional bond with that person. You can’t put a name to that feeling, really, only that it’s suddenly a very central and enriching part of your life. You’d be hesitant to call it the most important part of your day, but you wouldn’t be able to say that it wasn’t.
Now say you initially met this person fourteen years ago, when her father kidnapped you and made you dig through a mountain, thus cracking into an ancient profane space that may or may not have unleashed some arcane, violent Louise Belcher type into the world to do whatever creepy, likely maladjusted things such a creature might do. And also, maybe your new friend — the one you’ve been spending all this time with — actually died in that cave 14 years ago.
Ah, the summer of my 32nd year.
This is Bunny Mask, which spends its second issue building this emotional core for protagonist Tyler Jenkins. It’s an interesting move for a horror book to establish a character’s emotional confusion before readdressing the supernatural mystery, but it’s a move that just may pay off surprising dividends — horror always feels more visceral (even if its bunny-adjacent horror) when we are invested in the characters, and Tyler’s seemingly emotionally bankrupt life is the sort of heart we like to see warmed.
Alongside the story of Tyler and newly reacquainted Bee Foster are intermittent, dreamlike scenes in which we touch base with Bunny Mask herself; she seems to be a protector of innocent children, which seems nice until the horrible rending of flesh.
This lingering dreamlike quality — something artist Andrea Mutti is also supplying over on his other book, Parasomnia — keeps the book anchored so that it never drifts too far afield. Dark voices speak to Tyler, and the reader is never quite sure how real anything is.
The issue ramps up in its final pages to the edge of conflict and a reunion between Tyler and the supernatural force. While not a pulse-pounding second issue, Bunny Mask is nonetheless creating a compelling world that I didn’t expect to be so deeply invested in so quickly. The mystery here is just unique enough, the characters just well enough drawn, to hook the reader; Mutti and writer Paul Tobin have laid a groundwork that implies a deepening of its tones and mysteries as a given, rather than something we can only hope for.
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