Review – Something is Killing The Children Vol 1 TP (BOOM! Studios)

Let’s talk Tynion. Firstly, to my own personal horror, I have found myself mispronouncing his name to my former customers for two plus years now. According to the GLAAD Award-winning writer’s Twitter, Tie-Nin is in fact the correct pronunciation. If you hear a flock of comic fans from Oldham getting it wrong, point the finger at me.

For those not familiar with the works of Tynion, you definitely have some required reading to do, starting with my current favourite title DC’s, Justice League Dark. Tynion has a finesse for promoting strong, unlikely alliances with solidly written characters. This is most notable with Manbat and Detective Chimp in DC’s magical misadventure. These comic creations are strongly in need of their own buddy cop series akin to Harley and Ivy (take the hint DC, make it happen).  Recently, Tynion has taken the helm of Batman succeeding from Tom King’s ‘City of Bane’ story arc. With many new characters and the Joker War brewing, this was frequently a pre-Covid top seller. So, following my enjoyment of his current DC works I took a dive into his latest creator-owned offering with BOOM! Studios, Something is Killing the Children.

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: James Tynion IV
Werther Dell’edera
Miquel Muerto
Letterer: Andworld Design
Release Date: 9th June 2020 (print), 20th May 2020 (digital)

BBOOM! Studios had initially planned to release this as a limited series, but quickly expanded due to the overwhelming wave of pre-release support from retailers and fans alike. There are a handful of trades I have purchased where I hugely regret not buying them as monthly issues, and this is fighting for the top spot on that list. Collecting issues 1-5 of BOOM! Studios: Something Is Killing The Children, we have the first trade.

‘Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.’ Even before you hit page one, Tynion is already warning you of the horrors to come. A small town is being stalked by a beast intent on feeding upon children. Hunting the beast, however, is no simple task with the creature only being seen by children and sightings being frequently dismissed by adults. The story opens with children playing game of truth or dare. With this being in the early pages it establishes two major things: the easy dismissal of our lead character James and just who James is implied to be, opening up the strongest aspect of the book. Pictured below alongside a photograph of James Tynion IV.

Something Is Killing The Children is a clear passion project for Tynion. The likeness he shares with the lead and some of the backstory seems to mirror aspects of his own. This includes the inclusion of LGBT issues, and Erica and James create a wonderfully believable partnership forged in desperate necessity living up to the ‘come with me if you want to live’ mantra.

The personal themes of this story are exaggerated in beautifully subtle ways. Now I’m not claiming Tynion was in fact living in a town with a horrific presence, but I am saying that the details play out rationally when explaining the irrational. Taking the time to use background characters to further the exposition and free up more time for main characters develop themselves naturally helped cement the story in normality. This all helps build a strong foundation for the story.

With issue one cementing so many key lot points and themes, the pacing of each subsequent issue can be switched up to keep the reader on their toes. Little touches like when an unlikely pair begin to plan their counter offensive ,focus briefly shifts to the waiting staff in their diner. Staff who are drawn into our lead’s presence are seen gossiping, adding a reality to the scene. In a story of monsters of disbelief keeping the small-town feel helps anchor us to the seriousness of the threat.

How could I have rambled on this long without talking about Werther Dell’edera and Miquel Muerto’s artwork? Its beautifully disgusting, and the body horror features John Carpenter levels of creativity. The designs of the characters are clearly descriptive of their personality and place in the story. The homely feel of the small town swiftly switches gear to push the creeping horror. Using a thematic drawing style for the body mutilation scenes keep an air of mystery while getting a mostly clear view of the creature stalking the town’s children. Even when you see the creature in full glory, you are only left with more questions. Again, you can’t help but be impressed at how solidly and early the scene was set.

Long story short, this book is a masterclass in both personal and survival horror. The horror element of the story is as compelling as the small moments created between its spirited characters. Even by the end of this trade there are so many unanswered questions, but all of these are posed with precision to the point you may not even want the answers – or may even be afraid to have them. Volume one is just the start of a series I will be following intently from here on.

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