Review - Something is Killing the Children #1 (@boomstudios)

"And just for a second, I saw this...I don't know."

Monsters are out there and need dealing with. In Something is Killing the Children #1 from BOOM! Studios, dealing with a monster doesn't come without costs. The issue is written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell'edera, colored by Miquel Muerto and lettered by Andworld Design.

When the children of Archer's Peak begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories-impossible stories of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to see what they can see. Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it MUST be done.

What's especially on-point about Tynion's script is the undercurrent of tension pervasive throughout the issue. The issue starts off innocently enough--with kids playing as kids are wont to do--before steadily devolving into something much more sinister. Tynion does a brilliant job of slowly morphing the book into something terrible, offering up a character misdirection before introducing the reader to the real threat. Tynion also weaves the impacts of the trauma on one of the children as he copes with witnessing a truly horrific event into the overarching story, with one side feeding off the other for effect. The secondary protagonist in the book (Erica Slaughter) is written in sharp contrast to James and Tynion will likely use one as a foil for the other as the story unfolds.

Dell'edera's artwork is a great fit for the script in its style as there's a delicacy to the linework that belies the danger from the unknown monsters. There's a vagueness in Dell'edera's artwork that works well for the context of the story, in that it allows the reader's imagination to fill in some of the gaps--not always in a positive way. A lot of fear in monsters comes in the unknown and Dell'edera keeps most of the characters (and the reader) in the dark as to what exactly is out there, but when the monster is revealed it's pretty intense. Dell'edera spends a few pages that get a little gory, but the graphic nature of the monster attacks isn't overtly violent for the sake of being so. Muerto's colors provide a subtle darkness to the proceedings that aid in establishing the atmosphere.

Something is Killing the Children #1 is propelled by a steady drumbeat of stress that keeps tensions relatively high. James and Erica make unlikely partners, but there is something bad out there directly impacting James' friends and families that needs attending to. Tynion's script is well-paced and well-thought out, providing enough information for the reader to have a sense of what's happening through a steady drip of information where appropriate. Dell'edera keeps the reader on their toes by slowly building up to a the reveal of the big bad. Something is Killing the Children #1 is a very strong first issue that provides an excellent starting point for a new horror series.

Something is Killing the Children #1 is available now.