Something is Killing the Children, a BOOM! Studios series written by James Tynion IV with art by Werther Dell’Edera, is undeniably weird. As the title would suggest, it concerns a small town with a big problem: something is killing its children.
Erica Slaughter: A Heroine for Our Times
Enter: Erica Slaughter, a mysterious girl with a talking stuffed octopus, an affinity for sharp objects (obtainable from your local supply store), and a sick neck gaiter. Slaughter travels from town to town, supported by a mysterious benefactor, hunting down and slaying monsters that feed on children.
Her past is a mystery, her methods are strange, but she operates with an effortless cool and confidence that makes it hard to argue with one simple fact: Erica Slaughter is good at her job.
She befriends a young boy from the terrorized town, opening his eyes to a world within our world, one where monsters lurk in the shadows, visible only to those who still “believe” in them. The story does specify that “belief” is defined not as thinking monsters exist, but as knowing they don’t but still being afraid of the things that go bump in the night.
This non-definition may seem like it’s splitting hairs (and providing an easy backdoor to work adults into the narrative as the series progresses), but it’s effective in that it speaks to a primal fear within us all and positions Erica as the light that will wash that darkness away.
Artistic Renderings of the Otherworldly
Dell’Edera’s artwork is phenomenal, both playful and morbid, with a hazy quality that lends the entire affair a nightmarish atmosphere.
Designs, especially of human characters, are often mundane, as called for by the story, until something weird is introduced. In those instances, whether we’re seeing the spirit in Erica’s stuffed companion, the “something” that’s killing the children, or a magical artifact, Dell’Edera goes for broke, sketching creatures and devices that would be at home in the works of Lovecraft or Cronenberg.
The only downside to the presentation of the comic is that Tynion and Dell’Edera regularly have panels read from left to right across two pages. While this does have its merits, it’s a tactic that always annoys me when it’s deployed in comics because it makes tracking the action more confusing. This isn’t a glaring issue, but it does come up.
This first volume of Something is Killing the Children throws readers headfirst into the deep end of its world and gives you just enough information to tread water. The experience is both unsettling and exciting, but it also leaves you hungry for more. Hopefully the second volume (available now) doubles down on the world’s mythos and gives readers more in terms of Erica’s backstory and her mysterious benefactor.
All-in-all, I’m calling this a Satisfactory Slaughterfest with a badass protagonist, a weird world populated by horrific monsters, and art that emphasizes the unsettling nature of the story without overpowering it.
You can purchase a copy of Something is Killing the Children here.
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