At this point, it’s safe to say Cullen Bunn may be the greatest ideas guy in comics, especially when it comes to horror. He’s currently writing series like Basilisk at BOOM! Studios and Parasomnia at Dark Horse. Today, The Last Book You’ll Ever Read read kicks off with its first issue and it may be his most disturbing work yet. This story centers around a book that awakens something in humanity and sends it spiraling into a predator and prey mode. Preview it here, if you dare.
This issue opens on an average everyday subway train. Everyone is going about their business reading, zoning out, or chatting with friends. To the right of the panel, we can see someone is reading a book called Sartyr which plays into what is going on in much of the book. Soon, the story follows an average everyday man in a suit and tie who is being stalked by a group of younger blokes. They aim to hurt him badly, but in a twist, it’s the businessman who hurts them back. Brutally.
So begins the chaos that is brought by the book Sartyr, which is written by the story’s protagonist who goes by the name Olivia Kade. Cleverly, Bunn introduces this character on the very first page through captions. These captions end up being words from Sartyr, which is revealed at a book reading by Olivia herself. It’s a clever way to draw the reader into the horror of what the book has to say in the real world. It’s a cinematic choice that draws you into the world very well.
From there, all hell breaks loose across the country. Bunn and artist Leila Leiz give the reader hints on what may be really going on and whether Olivia is in on it. There’s a bit of mystery mixed in with the growing rise in extreme violence. Is it the book or something more that is driving people to literally tear out flesh?
The story is haunting in a way that feels all too real. Violence is prevalent in our society, but what if it was turned to 11? That seems to be what this story is about beyond the fantasy elements which makes for a disturbing truism in the narrative. The first issue also has a good bookend to it that gives it a satisfying conclusion all its own. You’ll be interested in what happens next, but Bunn and Leiz give us enough to put this book down and be satisfied till the next issue.
Leiz’s art, with colors by Giada Marchisio and letters by Jim Campbell, makes for a believable book despite the wild premise. The art has a slightly cartoony nature, which amps up the gore and blood when it flows. And boy does it flow, which adds the action and prey response most readers will come away from this book with.
The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is a strong start to a series with a unique premise and a devilish deeper meaning. Most of all, it comes with a smart introduction that draws you in and won’t let you go.
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