Something is Killing the Children #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’Edera
Colorist: Miquel Muerto
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Available: September 4
“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Out this week is the first issue of the limited run, Something is Killing the Children, from Boom! Studios, officially ushering us into the fall horror season. And a welcome ushering it is.
Something is slaughtering the cheddar-headed teens of Archer’s Peak, Wisconsin. James, a lower classman at the town high school and newly-inducted member of his own band of merry misfits, hosts a sleepover. As the night progresses into a game of “Truth or Dare,” James’ story of monsters in his backyard incites a late-night search for said beastie…to tragic consequence.
Enter Erica Slaughter, haunted monster-slayer. Fresh off a recent assignment, the blonde, machete-wielding killing machine busses into town, ready to offer poor James something he’s not yet experienced, even from his kindly if burned-out principal: belief. And something to do about it.
Tynion’s (Memetic, Batman: Detective Comics) tale suggests equal parts It, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stranger Things without being derivative of any of them. Here in issue one, we are offered a sketch of our protagonists and the mythology in which they operate—a mythology of which only one of them seems remotely aware. James is derided by his peers, an apparent outcast prior to joining his own “Loser” club and blamed for what happened since, but flashes real strength in this chapter’s close; what will his psychology show us? Erica is a haunted badass—what led her to this profession, and her dogged devotion to it? And is it a Men In Black-esque shadow organization supporting her, or her own personal Alfred Pennyworth? Time (and future issues) will tell…
Dell’Edera’s (Briggs Land) art is deceptively simple and noir-esque, all shadow and haunted looks and economy of line, and works well in setting the story’s tone. Muerto’s color—also overtly uncomplicated, emphasizes this tone: bright greens and flesh-tones during the day, then dark blues and blacks as the horror builds in James’ retellings, finally to visceral reds and oranges as the monster attacks.
Like the most effective of monster stories, the beast is only alluded to and hinted at for the bulk of this chapter. The gore is there: we see the wreckage the “Class E7” leaves behind, but the big reveal is saved for near the very end, and then only briefly. Because really, it’s not about the monster itself—it’s about the fear we project to give it shape. As in It (or any good nightmare), we give terror its form; sometimes when we risk to stare too long into the abyss, the abyss occasions to glance back. The real story is what we do with that horror—and Tynion and Dell’Edera present us with a strong launchpad.
An excellent September read, with promise for a frightful October, Something is Killing the Children will be available from Boom! Studios September 4.
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com