What if there was a book that seemed to unlock the most savage parts of humanity, that seemed to accelerate the collapse of civilization as we know it with every new reader it gained? What if that book was so effective at unleashing this primal sense of violence that you didn't want anyone close to you reading it? And perhaps more frightening still... what if you wrote it?
Cullen Bunn, the writer behind horror comics hits like Harrow County and The Empty Man, has dreamed all manner of nightmarish concepts in his career, but he's never done anything quite like his next project. The Last Book You'll Ever Read is a new Vault Comics series created by Bunn and artist Leila Leiz (Alters, Horde) that explores the questions above — and SYFY WIRE is pleased to reveal a first look at what that means.
Last Book follows Olivia Kade, the author behind Satyr, the most controversial book in the world, a book so potent and provocative that it's getting blamed for the breakdown of the civilized world as acts of violence break out everywhere people are reading it. Still, Olivia is determined to go on a book tour to promote Satyr, even if it means her own life is in danger.
“With this story, I'm exploring some concepts and themes that really trouble and frighten me," Bunn explained. "This is a story of fantasy and supernatural horror, but the themes and concepts haunt me like a ghost in the dark. The Last Book You'll Ever Read is about the collapse of society, about the descent or de-evolution of mankind. The book referenced in the title is the Bible of this massive shift. In ourselves. In our friends and neighbors. In our culture. In the world around us. Reality itself is becoming more fierce and wild, and it is taking us with it.
Is the 'last book' sort of a doctrine to what is coming? Is it somehow bringing about this cataclysmic reckoning? Not even the author of the book, Olivia Kade, seems to know. She knows only that the people around her want her dead because of the words she's written. She hires a security consultant, Connor Wilson, to protect her. In order to protect him, she asks that he never reads her work. From that moment forward, the fates of Olivia and Connor are intertwined. And they are facing a horror of unbelievable proportions. This isn't a story about the end times. It's about a new beginning that is violent and terrifying.”
In the gallery below, you can get an exclusive early peek at how Olivia's world is changing in the wake of her book, and get a sense of the kind of beautifully horrific style Leiz is bringing to the series.
While longtime horror fans might immediately tie this story and its concepts to things like John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, Leiz also explained that the art is driven by visual inspirations that tie it back to classic Hollywood, creating a singular style for both Olivia and the book as a whole.
"When I read the first script for The Last Book You'll Ever Read, I was immediately captivated," Leiz said. "It got its hooks in me. This mixture of horror, suspense, and sensuality already inspires my art. Being an admirer of film noir and '50s style, I wanted to bring a little touch of both to the book. Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, and Audrey Hepburn inspired me when designing Olivia, who's a mysterious and cold, but fragile character. Every issue is full of action, and Cullen manages to keep me always in suspense. I always look forward to reading the new script, and I can't wait to read the end of the book... just hoping that it isn't really the last one."
The Last Book You'll Ever Read arrives July 7 with colors by Giada Marchisio, letters by Jim Campbell, design work by Tim Daniel, and a variant cover by Jen Hickman. If the rest of the book is as good as this preview and the overall concept, it seems destined to join the ranks of recent Vault Comics horror hits like The Plot and The Autumnal.