REVIEW: ‘Parasomnia,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Parasomnia #1

Parasomnia #1 is written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated and colored by Andrea Mutti, and lettered by Simon Bowland. It is published by Dark Horse Comics. In a shadowy realm, a masked stranger travels searching for a boy who is being held hostage in a mysterious kingdom. But what is the masked stranger’s connection to the boy? And most importantly, what does it have to do with a couple whose son has mysteriously fallen into a coma?

Bunn is no stranger to the realm of supernatural and horror comics, having previously written comics such as Dark Horse’s Tales From Harrow County and Valiant’s mystical hero Shadowman. In Parasomnia, he draws upon elements of pulp fiction, with the most prominent influence being Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane. Much like Kane, the masked stranger is fueled by a strong sense of justice and is a skilled combatant. Mutti’s design for the masked stranger also pays tribute to Kane with a long flowing red cape and a pistol and cutlass he wields in battle. The only difference is the obvious mask the stranger is wearing.

Mutti’s artwork continues to impress throughout the issue, especially colorwise. The forest the masked stranger travels through is depicted as a nightmarish tangle of trees and shadows, with a dark blue sky topping off the ominous vibes. Wounds are depicted as splashes of what looks like red paint. And villages are comprised of huts that are either conical or triangular in nature, comprised of grey bricks. I’m not sure whether Mutti painted the issue or not, but one thing is for sure: this is a book that readers won’t be able to tear their eyes from. Even the Masked Stranger’s word captions are arranged in a descending pattern throughout the book, with Bunn and Bowland giving the words an appropriately mythic quality.

Bunn and Mutti also employ a narrative that cuts between the Masked Stranger’s world and a homeless man while heavily implying that the two’s fates are connected. The present-day sequences are tragic: the homeless man is besieged by thugs, and it’s hinted that unspoken tragedy may have cost him his marriage and led to the disappearance of his son. Vault Comics has utilized a similar method with its superhero title, The Blue Flame, and much like the story in that comic, I find Parasomnia to be a supremely gripping mystery. Hopefully, when all is said and done, this mystery will have a satisfying ending.

The end of the book also reveals a cult that may be the string connecting both worlds. The Masked Stranger’s world references a mysterious figure known as the “Faceless Queen,” which sounds like the type of being a cult would worship. Again, I’ll have to wait and see how it all comes together, but it speaks to the creative team’s talent that they can put a new spin on different elements of horror fiction and draw the reader into this dark world they’ve created.

Parasomnia #1 is a visually stunning dark fantasy, wearing its pulp fiction influences on its sleeve and setting up an intriguing mystery. Fans of the Solomon Kane stories or Bunn’s previous work will definitely want to check this book out.

Parasomnia #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Parasomnia #1
4

TL;DR

Parasomnia #1 is a visually stunning dark fantasy, wearing its pulp fiction influences on its sleeve and setting up an intriguing mystery. Fans of the Solomon Kane stories or Bunn’s previous work will definitely want to check this book out.