Adrian Padilla hasn’t been doing that great lately. He’s been plagued by hallucinations of insects and rot infesting the people and objects nearest to him. Though he’s not a junkie, his friends are about to write him off as one. Well, all of them except for Molly who recommends that he go and see a hypnotherapist to find out what’s plaguing his subconscious. They do this… and things get worse. The hypnotherapy awakened the memory of one of Adrian’s past lives, a psychotic English serial killer named Sutter who joined a cult in search of even greater pleasures of the flesh. Sutter’s soul was pledged to the dark god they worship and it’s determined to have him back along with his current host.
This isn’t a bad setup for a horror title but it doesn’t really rise above being “not bad.” Adrian makes for a sympathetic protagonist, even when he makes the occasional dumb move like lying to the police. While it feels weird to describe artist Danny Luckert’s style as appealingly clean, given all of the gruesome and… wriggly things he has to draw it’s still the truth and the first volume has a nice overall style to it. Where it goes wrong is in writer Cullen Bunn’s decision to lay on the horror bits with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Adrian’s initial hallucinations come on fast and strong and hardly a scene goes by without some kind of weirdness occurring. It gets predictable and even boring after a while, even with Luckert’s efforts to bring the creepiness.
What at least makes me amenable to picking up the second volume is the fact that it feels like real progress has been made in the story by the end of the volume. Adrian has an encounter with another hypnotherapist that goes better for him. Instead of revealing that it had no effect in keeping his protagonist’s demons at bay, Bunn has a new but still related threat emerge to drive the story. I’m not convinced that “Regression” is going to lead anywhere interesting yet, but it ends in a way that makes me want to give it the benefit of the doubt for now.