Something is Killing the Children Book One

Something is Killing the Children Book One
Something is Killing the Children Book One review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Boom! Studios - 978-1-68415-826-3
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781684158263
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Horror

Something is indeed killing the children of Archer’s Creek, and it’s way beyond the experience of the Sheriff’s department. Fortunately help is on the way via Erica Slaughter, who does know what’s going on, and what needs to be done.

James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera earned an Eisner Award nomination for this creepy series where the horror isn’t just confined to the monsters, and the solution may well be worse than the pain. There’s a slow build, rather in the manner of a TV drama series, with the background information drip-fed when necessary rather than in one dump, and some aspects remaining mysterious even as the clean-up begins. Tynion knows what he’s doing, though, and swirls the moral high ground around for what’s not an easy read. Yes, the children are being killed, but preventing it means endangering even more of them. While the opening scenes are the experiences of James, a child with a large role, the adults gradually take over the spotlight, not least because there are fewer and fewer children.

Dell’Edera is an extremely adaptable artist, although making the unusual artistic choice to tell much of the story across spreads rather than via conventional pages. It might make sense if they led to larger images, but generally don’t, the spreads composed of small panels. Within that, though, he’s exceptionally good. The opening chapters are threatening, bloody and explicit even for adult-oriented thrills, but the violence tones down afterwards, and Dell’Edera is disciplined when it comes to the conversations moving the story forward. His design for the monsters serves well throughout, unsettling and threatening, and his all-round credentials are proved by the action scenes showing how accomplished he also is with movement.

The population of Archer’s Creek are well developed, with understandable feelings and motivations, Tynion underlining how most feel well over their capabilities, with James’ head teacher a notably weary figure. From very early on the most interesting cast member is Erica, and as the story continues we learn who she represents, and their appalling worldview, although some secrets remain. It’s hinted at who the Octopus is, for instance, without it ever being entirely spelled out. That’s an extra spooky inclusion once readers have come to terms with the primary situation.

Eisner Award nominations don’t come easily, and even less so to a horror series, so that stands as a benchmark of quality for the opening issues. It’s quality maintained all the way through what’s a bleak and compelling drama that any horror fan should enjoy, although as noted in Amazon reviews, this hardcover the deluxe presentation missing out the original series covers is cheap. If still not certain, the story of Archer’s Creek and its inhabitants can also be found over three trades beginning with Volume One.