REVIEW: Cold Spots #1 by Cullen Bunn, Mark Torres, & Simon Bowland

Cold Spots #1 is out Aug. 22, 2018.

By Zack Quaintance — Cullen Bunn is prolifically establishing himself as comics’ foremost purveyor of horror, and Cold Spots #1 is another title likely to bolster that reputation. In this opening issue, Bunn takes a minimalist approach to introducing characters and exposition, using a few small exchanges and revelations to hint at larger backstories. For the most part, this first issue concerns itself with ambiance, as well as with enabling Mark Torres’ artwork to really shine.

Although, shine is probably the wrong word for linework as alternatingly foreboding and forlorn as we get here. Simply put, Torres’ art in Cold Spots is beautiful, perfect for this story. The highlight of all of it is the use of color. Afternoons in rural locales, late nights in cities, even rooms for individual meetings—they all get their own palettes, palettes that go a long way toward influencing how the scenes in Cold Spots read and feel. There’s even a scene wherein color shifts based on a character’s (questionable) decision. It’s absolutely fantastic work from Torres.

The setting is also an interesting facet of Cold Spots. Between this book and other recent work (thinking specifically of Bone Parish with Boom! Studios), Bunn continues to tell stories about less-heralded regions of the United States, regions often ignored by television shows and movies,where problems in real life have made them ideal for explorations of the supernatural and occult, beset as they are by job loss and our worsening national opioid crisis (which, to be fair, is a problem everywhere). Anyway, Bunn has tapped into this as of late to emphasize the gothic qualities of places that range from Louisiana to the heartlands to (as in this story) North Carolina, telling tales of phantoms and wispy ghouls and the undead.

Cold Spots #1 is in the end a pretty and spry read, one that tears through its opening chapter while doling just enough exposition to further its mystery. The characters are shallow-yet-believable so far, letting the creative team provide a fantastic hook for readers along with a set of stunning and scary artwork. This is ultimately a five-part series, and I’d be surprised if the vast majority of folks who pick up #1 don’t end up sticking around for the duration.

Overall: A traditional supernatural mystery, Cold Spots #1 is another story from writer Cullen Bunn that uses horror motifs to chronicle forlorn pockets of the United States often ignored in television and film. This is a brief yet beautiful comic, and Mark Torres’ work with colors in particular is not to be missed. 8.0/10

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Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.