Review: THE EMPTY MAN #3 Brings Violence To The Streets

FIRST IMPRESSION

An engrossing narrative and surprisingly intimate art work makes this a successful horror comic packed with character and tension. As the story builds so does the readers connection to the characters creating an emotional roller-coaster of a comic.
Writing/Story
Pencils/Inks
Coloring
Lettering
- Advertisement -

What do you do if you are breaking the law and the violent mob are at the door? Run and hide or fight to the death? Can you ever escape from The Empty Man?

In issue 3 of Cullen Bunn’s virus based horror comic, The Empty Man, all of the main players come together to create mayhem. It is a violent and disturbing sequence of events which resemble something from The Purge movies.

Alternative Cover
The Empty Man #3 Alternative Cover Art

The Story

Bunn used the first two issues of The Empty Man to introduce the characters and their affiliated groups. In this third issue, he has brought them all together and allowed the inevitable conflict to spill out across the pages. But, before he does this, he gives the story a human, sympathetic face, for the reader to identify with.

- Advertisement -

In the opening pages we are introduced to Renee, a woman desperately wanting to be accepted and, unfortunately for her, she is being manipulated by Karl, the leader of the an obsessive religious cult known as the Whisper Oracles. Bunn introduces the character and shows how easy it is to twist the truth to make it seem acceptable, even reasonable. As a reader, we know what the Whisper Oracles are really about, but poor Renee is blinded to the truth by the need to be accepted. The script references her blindness and there is a stark contrast between the descriptions in the caption boxes and the images drawn by Jesus Hervas.

The reader automatically has some sympathy for Renee because she is identified as a victim of the Cult, just as Melissa Kerry is a victim of the Empty Man virus. The heart of this issue is comparing the central characters, especially the victims, and how they deal with the situation they are in. Renee is a victim of the Cult and embraces it in desperation; Melissa is a victim of the disease and unwilling succumbs to it; Monica Jensen, the FBI agent, is also a victim of the disease who is fighting it in every possible way she can.

This issue of The Empty Man is about what you do if you are a victim. Do you embrace your lot, accept the inevitable, or do you fight back? The narrative stretches beyond the confines of the page and reflects the current state of world politics. This is illustrated via the masks worn by the Whisper Oracles because, just like the bank robbers from Point Break, they wear Presidential faces. This elevates the confrontations from street brawl to political defiance.

Review: THE EMPTY MAN #3 Brings Violence To The Streets 1
The Empty Man #3 Interior Art

The Art

Hervas picks up on the sympathetic qualities of the script and produces some outstanding emotional characters. The emotional attachment that a number of the characters have with each other is only possible because of the believability of the art work. Characters such as Renee express some raw emotions and are totally engrossing. Despite the fact that Renne is ‘on the wrong side’, as a reader you find yourself rooting for her, hoping that she will see the error of her ways or break through the lies that she is being fed. This reaction can only happen because of the expressive quality of Hervas’ face and figure work.

The tension and, eventually the horror, in The Empty Man is mostly provided by the colorist Niko Guardia. The majority of this issue is set during one night and Guardia gives the sky a harsh modernist look with block colors of blues and purples. It’s slightly oppressive and disconcerting especially contrasted with the more realistic foreground art work. The only time that Guardia changes this gloomy backdrop is when he needs to accentuate an element of the story, such as a particular gruesome moment or a defining character moment.

For example see the penultimate panel on page 4 (below) where it’s Renee’s final chance to back out but instead she wholeheartedly opts in to the madness. Guardia has colored every other panel on this page with the oppressive blues, deliberately making it hard to pick out details in the darkened street but on this single panel he has dropped the color entirely, leaving the background white. It draws your eye and makes you realize this is an important moment for the character and the narrative. Simple but extremely effective.

If Guardia’s colors provide the atmosphere, then Ed Dukeshire’s lettering gives the comic its pacing. He breaks up speech with linked speech bubbles which both slows the dialogue down and adds emphasis to certain words. On the very first panel the name ‘Karl’ is separated from Renee’s speech showing that she has an intimacy with the leader of the Cult and that she is expecting something specifically from him. That break makes the reader stop and contemplate the relationship between these two characters from the very first moment.

Dukeshire’s decision to use a shadowed box for the captions throughout Karl’s speech not only provides an extra layer of separation between the words he says and the actions taking place but it also reminds the reader that he is speaking duplicity; his words are covering up the truth.

And finally, the sound effects are designed to be jarring against the otherwise quiet and empty setting. When there is a knock at a door or a car alarm blaring, the sound shatters the uniformity of the panels. The design of the font, including its color, is a harsh intrusion on the page, working in the same way as a ‘scare jump’ in a movie. It breaks the tension for a moment and allows the reader to take stock of the situation.

Review: THE EMPTY MAN #3 Brings Violence To The Streets 2
The Empty Man #3 Interior Art Detail

Conclusion

The Empty Man is an exciting, heart thumping read which embraces the medium to tell a brilliant horror story. Cullen Bunn has been proving himself with other off-shoots of the horror genre, especially in his haunted house series Cold Spots, and he brings his A-game to this virus/zombie influenced narrative. Everything about the art work, from the pencils and the colors to the lettering and design, works in tandem to produce the greatest effect on the reader, whether that’s to build tension, shock or create sympathetic characters. There are some amazing sequences towards the end of the comic which are surreal in nature and have to be seen; it has an element of David Lynch about it in the best possible way.

The third issue of The Empty Man is a glorious success of storytelling and leaves the reader begging for more. If you are a fan of the Purge movies or Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain comics, you should be reading this comic from BOOM! Studios.

Save 50% on graphic novels, statues & more!

TRENDING THIS WEEK

A New Team Forms in IRONHEART #10

Ironheart #10 is full of twists and turns, humor and tension. It’s a perfectly balanced issues, and one that will be remembered for some time.

Review: RONIN ISLAND #6: Will Hana Fight For The Island?

Hana and Kenichi—the dynamic duo who put aside their differences to fight the monstrous Byonin—have been separated for quite some time. After the warriors...

GOTHAM CITY MONSTERS #1 Explores Gotham’s Grotesque Underbelly

Diving deeper into the underbelly of Gotham City, DC Comics Gotham City Monsters #1 explores the uneasy corner known as Monster City, with dusky...

How STEEPLE #1 Launches a New Series

Steeple #1 is the dynamic start to an all-new series full of demons, monsters, and a priest in training. The idiosyncratic nature is sure to delight readers.

Review: POWERS OF X #4: The Introduction Of The Sassiest Sinister

Jonathon Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X stories are proving to be classics and Powers of X #4 is no exception. Hickman’s...

How Gwen’s Planning Needs Work in GWENPOOL STRIKES BACK #2

Gwenpool Strikes Back #2 continues Gwenpool’s quest for relevancy, bringing yet another chaotic scheme of hers to fruition, with lots of laughs along the way.

CHAINSAW REINDEER #1 Eschews Deeper Meanings, Embraces Gory Chaos

The titular character’s body count reads like a grocery list and it’s a doozy.

Review: THE FLASH #78 shows off the Terror of the Black Flash

The Black Flash Lashes Out Against the Forces The Forces are in danger of collapsing. As the Sage, Strength, and Still Forces continue to make...
Darryll Robson
Darryll Robsonhttp://www.comiccutdown.com
Comic book reader, reviewer and critic. Waiting patiently for the day they announce 'Doctor Who on The Planet of the Apes'.

SPONSORS

If you want your BUSINESS to be part of something bigger than itself, you might be a good fit to partner with Monkeys Fighting Robots.

Review: THE EMPTY MAN #3 Brings Violence To The Streets 5

CONTACT US

Review: THE EMPTY MAN #3 Brings Violence To The Streets 6

Are you a creator looking for a review of your book?
Use the form below to end us a message.

Are you a fan of the website and have a comment, question, or concern? Drop us a line, and we will gladly answer all your questions.

JOIN THE TEAM

Monkeys Fighting Robots is looking for passionate writers to drive the site’s coverage of the comic book industry. Authors will be responsible for a particular niche, providing reviews, opinion and news coverage, while building a reader community using his or her multimedia storytelling skills. The best candidates have solid writing skills, WordPress knowledge, and are engaged on social media. Do you love comic books and have a strong opinion, then we would like to speak with you.

Review: THE EMPTY MAN #3 Brings Violence To The Streets 7

MEET THE TEAM

COMIC REVIEW DIGEST, sign up today! At Monkeys Fighting Robots, we strive to talk about ALL aspects of a comic book, instead of just giving you a recap of the story.
  • Did you notice how epic the colors were?
  • That was a wicked panel layout by the artist!
  • What was the letterer thinking?
  • How did this comic book make you feel?
  • Most importantly, should you buy it?

Every Wednesday you will receive an email with our latest reviews and analyses, as well as our original comic strips and exclusive editorial content.
Thanks for signing up!