Cullen Bunn, Writer
Jonas Scharf, Illustrator
Alex Guimaraes, Colors
Ed Dukeshire, Letters
Basilisk is a story about The Chimera, a group of 5 individuals with powers based on the 5-senses, and the problem they have when one of their members’ deserts and teams up with a human to take them out. In the previous story arc, a major confrontation takes place when Hannah ambushes The Chimera, killing one of their members. She is aided in the battle by Regan, who has the power of enhanced sight. Hannah seeks revenge against The Chimera for the death of her daughter and husband while Regan is disillusioned by the purpose of The Chimera due to some of the tactics they used. The lost member of The Chimera possessed the power of enhanced hearing. The Chimera is aided by a man named Barrett, who is labeled as the leader of the faithful. The concept of the faithful has not been flushed out, however, it communicates a larger following who are loyal to The Chimera but do not have the powers they possess.
The initial arc leaves the holding tension around the idea of survival. Despite the power differential between The Chimera and the humans, they are vulnerable. Their vulnerability is communicated by the ease in which a single well-trained human killed one of their members. The death of Manny left me wrestling with two loyalties: A desire for The Chimera to survive and the desire for the underdogs to get revenge. I want the group of enhanced “gods” to survive so that I can learn more about their story, how they got their powers, and what their ultimate purpose is as a group. I want the underdogs to win because they are survivors of pain and suffering caused by the actions of The Chimera.
In this issue, Jimmy, who has enhanced physical strength, chases Regan and Hannah and corners them in the woods. Meanwhile, Vanessa and Cara, the remaining members of the group, follow at a distance. The battle is graphic and holds the tension of a life-or-death struggle. The intimacy between siblings and the hatred that only family can have for each other when things go bad, is felt. The desperation of Hannah and her desire to seek revenge is felt. The only critique I have involves the conflict between Jimmy, Regan, and Hannah. The result was predictable and the ending of this fight felt overused and worn out.
The larger elevated theme of this struggle between humans and their gods is spelled out at the end of the book when Hannah asks herself: Will I be strong enough to kill a god if or when I get the chance. It reads as a macro-level question that looms large for many members of society. The question speaks to a larger audience, those impacted by power-differential of the dominant group, addiction, mental health, and other important issues facing society today.
The art is graphic, with deep dark lines and deep colors. The themes are blunt. The emotions on the faces of characters are vivid, yet sometimes subtle to reflect the internal battles happening within characters that are not always evident to all. The pacing and flow of the panels are perfect. The reader is left holding the tension of two polar – opposite groups, in part, due to the visual aesthetic of each which depicts their strengths as well as vulnerabilities clearly.
I love this book and would recommend this story to fans of horror, and fantasy. Cullen Bunn has written a lot of books in this genre; however, this story feels original and alive. The tropes of the typical human vs powered gods are not present like most stories. However, the larger story remains compelling and I urge readers to check this out. Overall = 9/10