Story: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’Edera
Colorist: Miquel Muerto
Something is Killing the Children is a hard title to miss. It had been on my radar for over a year, but I hadn’t glimpsed the art until last week. Now here we are; I’m all caught up on Killing and eagerly awaiting House of Slaughter #8.
Tynion’s expanding universe is achieving just that–a story that’s growing organically, in ways that are simultaneously surprising and satisfying. The first few volumes read like a story with deeper but non-compulsory lore. Tynion has expertly kept that lore inessential to page-by-page enjoyment, while continuously fleshing out the concept of monsters, hunters, house rituals, and so forth.
Tynion had initially planned the series as a mini, which makes the current arc so interesting. After an extended opening volume followed by a compelling origin flashback, “Road to Tribulation” marks the first “sequel” to Tynion’s original idea. Erica Slaughter is out of Archer’s Peak, away from the House of Slaughter, and facing an evil the likes of which readers have ever seen.
In fact, while Erica doesn’t know it, she’s caught the attention of a secondary antagonist, one slightly more human. Again, Tynion pulls the narrative away from “small town, dead kids, monster hunter” by introducing the Cutters. Yet, the addition helps the book feel more like itself. Like the story is finally letting us in on a delightful secret it’s been keeping.
At the same time, the Killing hasn’t lost sight of itself, hitting familiar beats with new textures. Erica had a mostly standard “found-mentor” dynamic with James, but with an interesting twist of transparency. It’s quickly clear to James that he’s not Erica’s sidekick, he will not be venturing off into the world of monsters with her after the dust has settled. He was a witness. He was bait.
Gabi has a completely different appeal, personally and aesthetically. Like Erica, Gabi’s character design at times feels like it comes from a different comic. This fits, as both characters stand apart from the events and people surrounding them. Gabi is a bubbling kettle of suppressed emotion; your heart breaks for her when, alone, Gabi releases just an ounce of vulnerability. She’s met with a hiss and a cat paw. You’re right, Gabi: it’s not fair.
Something is killing the art, and it’s Werther Dell’Edera. Dell’Edera’s lines dance between the clean Marvel house style and a shaggier indie aesthetic. Compositions are clear, but backgrounds, actions, and even characters can meld into more abstract shapes when the panel calls for it. Dell’Edera partners with colorist Miquel Muerto, who brings complimentary splashes of texture. The opening pages of #24 –depicting a married couple in a hotel room, their kids sitting by the pool– are gorgeous, largely thanks to Muerto’s textures.
If “Road to Tribulation” follows the first four arcs, next month will bring some kind of conclusion. Considering Erica has made little progress on her case, and is unaware that her former handlers want her dead, Tynion’s story seems primed to keep growing beyond this arc.
Something is Killing the Children #24
Like a monster eating children, SIKTC keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and better, and better..