I’ve read a bit of Cullen Bunn’s work, with Sixth Gun and Helheim being particular favorites of mine. So, when I saw the solicits for a new horror comic from Bunn and co-scripter Kyle Strahm, I got pretty excited. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Unearth, from the very first few pages, is designed to make your skin crawl.
A lot of that comes from the incredibly expressive art of Baldemar Rivas, who has a loose, light feeling to his pencil work, but that doesn’t mean anything is missing from the page. There is an economy to the art, leaving things pretty casual until the script calls for some fresh new hell to be rendered in horrific detail.
Rivas also has a way of drawing faces that tells you so much about the characters and how they feel about their surroundings. His characters are very expressive, tactile creatures. There’s a lot of visual acting going on in Unearth.
The story is pretty tight, too— a group of scientists are called to small village in Mexico, where a nauseatingly gruesome skin-warping disease has infected a good chunk of the population. The science group consists of Dr. Frankie McCommick and Dr. Reyes, and Lieutenant Morris. They’ve come to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the disease, with McCommick and Reyes hoping to help the villagers, while Morris is looking to torch the place and get away.
Once their guide shows them through the sicker parts of the population, he shows them to Dr. Hernandez. It’s not a pretty site— he’s pretty much a bloated mass of twisted flesh, limbs contorted around his distended flesh, and oozing a corpulent pink goo.
Reyes and McCommick lead a group of military specialists to site 17, which was where the first infection was reported. The expedition wants to get intel and get out, especially with guerrilla activity in the region on the raise. Things start poorly, and rapidly go straight to hell.
I haven’t read a lot of body horror comics in my time, but I can honestly say after reading Unearth that it’s a pretty effective medium for the genre. The key, of course, is good characters, which the first issue of Unearth has started to establish. We don’t know everything there is to know about them, but there’s enough background information to make the main characters compelling, and more than enough to make you care when things go pear-shaped.
If you’re looking for a solid read with great art that might just get under your skin, Unearth is the book for you.