A simple game of Truth or Dare turns into something much, much darker. What happened to James and his friends in the Ravine that night? Find out in Something is Killing the Children #1…if you dare.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’edera
Colorist: Miquel Muerto
Letterer: Andworld Design
Editor: Eric Harbun
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 4, 2019
In Something is Killing the Children: The things that we fear become the monsters in our minds. But the point of these monsters is that everyone knows they aren’t real and aren’t corporeal. But…what if…
CHILDHOOD ISN’T ALWAYS EASY
It was with some trepidation that I opened this book. While I can appreciate a good horror story, they aren’t my go-to. Killing children is right in the title too. Still, I thought I would give it a try, and I’m glad I did. This is a strong opening issue.
As Something is Killing the Children #1 opens, we’re with a group of boys, at night, with the lights out, playing “Truth or Dare,” and giving each other a hard time, the bravado we use to mask any fear we might be feeling. One of the challenges James to tell them about the time he was the most scared he’s ever been. He tells a story about hearing a noise from the Ravine (shades of Ray Bradbury?) and looked out the window and saw a huge thing standing in his yard. This rattles the other boys who then accuse him of making it up.
There’s a jump cut, from James to James, but now he looks frightened or even in shock. And he’s telling this story, about how he did make up the monster, about how they’d been in the Ravine several times before. He slipped and fell. It becomes apparent that he’s talking to an adult, and it looks as though he might be in a police station, and I just cringed.
Two weeks later, we see two girls in the woods. One of them is scraped up pretty bad, has a patch over one eye, and is missing an arm. The other, who looks a little older, has a blonde ponytail and is covered in smears of blood. The injured girl asks if it’s over, and after drinking some water, the blonde tells her that it is. She needs to get going somewhere else, but she wants to take a shower first.
Back at James’ school, things are not going so well for him. There are memorials set out along the entrance steps, where we see pictures of the boys he was with that night. One of the other kids from school comes along and accuses James of killing them. Tempers run high, and no one knows what really happened, so he lashes out at James, who tells him to shut the F up. This lands him in front of the principal, where we incidentally found out there have been nine kids found dead in the space of two weeks with even more missing. The news is no longer interested in this, and the Sheriff’s office isn’t sharing any information.
The blonde girl (Erica) arrives in town (Archer’s Peak), and one of the first things she sees is a board posting pictures of all the missing kids. She tracks down James, calls him by name, and wants to know if she can ask him some questions. She’s different enough from the police that he tells her. Then she gets a phone call, plainly about Archer’s Peak, and she says she has it handled. This catches James’ attention, and he asks her what she means. And she admits that she is a monster killer.
THE FLATNESS OF REAL-WORLD TERROR
We get so used to horror being an adrenaline rush, but that can’t be sustained. Something I really appreciate about the art in Something is Killing the Children #1 is how it captures the numbness of terror. For James, this may have started out at a more normal level even before his friends were killed. He wears glasses. He’s accused of being gay. He’s probably been picked on and tormented before. Now kick that up a notch with his being a suspect in the murder of his friends. And we see that – in his face, in his body language, in his expression. The thing in the woods could be a metaphor to anything horrible a young person experiences, but no one else believes.
Erica (Slaughter) is horrifying when we first see her. Not only is she covered in blood, but she’s wearing a kerchief around her face, and it depicts a toothy mouth. She looks like a monster herself. She has a predilection for dark eyeliner/eye shadow which, with her fair skin, also gives her a creepy look. Young as she is, she is convincing as a killer of monsters.
BOTTOM LINE: SCARY
There’s something extra-visceral in a horror story featuring young people as the protagonists, such as here in Something is Killing the Children #1. There is enough real-world that we are convinced that no one (other than Erica) believes James. We’ve already gotten a sense that the adults in town have given up on being able to do anything. But maybe there’s nothing else for James to do.
Something is Killing the Children #1
In one night, James’ life changes drastically – he alone escapes whatever killed his friends.