Something is Killing the Children #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’Edera
Colorist: Miquel Muerto
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
James Tynion IV is no stranger to horror comics, and Something is Killing the Children is evidence he has no plans on staying in his comfort zone. The new BOOM! horror series, which was recently promoted to an on-going due to reader interest, sees Tynion and illustrator Werther Dell’Edera stepping over boundaries and then walking way beyond them with a story about monsters that kill children.
The setup for the story is refreshingly complex and ambiguous. As the title suggests, something is killing the children. A boy finds himself in a situation where all his friends have ceased to be among the living, and with him being the only survivor, questions start to pop up. Meanwhile, a mysterious blade-wielding girl is introduced, and she carries her own storyline. She intends to kill monsters.
The stories intersect, but the structure reminded me, in a sense, of the best parts of True Detective. In fact, the comic itself has the grit and grimness of a dark HBO series. A lot of it has to do with tone. The series looks like it’s going to be a slow burn carried by character development and mounting dread. This isn’t much of a departure from Tynion’s previous work. The Woods, Memetic, and UFOlogy are all carefully calculated character studies, whether it takes place on a misplaced school, a violent virus-ridden world, or in the presence of alien lifeforms. Something is Killing the Children is definitely cut from the same cloth, but it’s in how visceral it is that it stands apart.
Dell’Edera and colorist Miquel Muerto have crafted a bleak and somewhat muted visual landscape that makes the often colorful and wondrous world of children feel very unsafe. Dell’Edera’s expressionistic faces do a great job of character development on their own right, with key scenes producing genuine facial expressions that heighten the horrors put in display.
Muerto’s colors add a generous portion of dread in each of the more terrifying encounters. They also keep the setting constantly bleak. If there’s any hope in the comic, it looks like we’ll have to wait a while before we even get a glimpse of it. The colors play a big factor in creating this impressively dangerous mood.
Something is Killing the Children has a pretty special trick up its sleeve that I hope Tynion and Dell’Edera further indulge in as the story progresses: visceral and violent double-page spreads. Most of these pages are reserved for intense and unreservedly gory horror sequences that are fast, shocking, and not subtle in the slightest. When children die in this comic, they die horribly. And yet, none of these violent death sequences feel gratuitous. They serve the story and make you want to see whatever’s causing this suffer greatly.
The spreads are expertly broken down and Andworld Design’s letters are carefully placed and do good job of controlling the pacing in each sequence. These pages feel nightmarish and have that same blurry quality dreams have. Believe me, you’ll want to see these pages more than once to take it all in.
James Tynion IV’s script is tight, economical, and purposeful. Not a panel is wasted. Everything contributes to character development and Dell’Edera takes full advantage of the emotions each character expresses along the way. With exceptional coloring and strategic lettering adding their own flavor, BOOM! has managed to put together quite a team to tell horror stories.
Find Something is Killing the Children #1 in your local comic shop on September 4, 2019.