A hunted man, all Jace has wanted to do is save children from being forced into the life he left behind. Now that he has been captured by the hunters who killed his family, what options does he have? Find out in House of Slaughter #15 from BOOM! Studios.
HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER #15
Writer: Tate Brombal
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Colorist: Miquel Muerto
Letterer: Andworld Design
Editor: Eric Harburn
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 17, 2023
Previously in House of Slaughter: Maven gives Jace the name of the bar Jolie frequents. It is crowded, but he finds her. They talk for a while, reminiscing. He tells her about Sunny. She admits to having the little boy, but she really wants to know why Jace left her in a burning house. This goes back to the time when the Legacy butchers, including Jace, were all going to be killed. Jolie killed the White Masks who were lying in wait for him and saved his life. Then the house collapsed on her, and he left her behind. She talks about her mission being to save children, and he grasps this as a way to connect with her. Instead, he discovers that the bar is full of White Masks.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
House of Slaughter #15 opens with a flashback to the attack on the school bus. Jace tells Sunny when he can open his eyes. The monster is dead, but so are Sunny’s schoolmates. Sunny is bewildered. His first instinct is that he wants to help his friends, then he becomes angry, demanding to know why Jace did not save them. Then he bursts into tears and wonders why he himself did not save them.
In the present, Jace is tied to a hook in a meat locker among slabs of meat. Vionette greets him, reminding him that he has no family to return to. She also introduces herself; Jace does not know her. He does recognize Cassius and makes reference to his father being the one who cut out his tongue. These are the people who killed Jace’s family. In turn, Vionette counters that they have been picking up the slack for Slaughter. If they deliver Jace to the Great House, it will be another feather in their cap. Jace picks up on the mention of Slaughter and tells them Aaron had nothing to do with his survival. They tell him Aaron is dead.
In the woods, Hootie tells the kids that Sunny is nearby, and they run off to look for him, all except for one. Putting his shoe back on, he sees the White Masks go into the woods with Sunny in tow. Jolie tells Sunny it is time to face his fears. Sunny is trying to be strong, but he really does not want to deal with a monster right now.
A crow flies into the meat locker. It makes a lot of noise, and then Aaron shows up, Aaron who looks as though he was shot in the head. He reminds Jace that he is a weapon. Jace insists he wants to be something more, something better. Aaron tells him he cannot be better with unfinished business. He must do what he must do, and it will cost a life. Aaron vanishes, but the crow returns and frees Jace.
The White Masks find the little group of kids Jolie told them about. The little boy who was fixing his shoes follows them, marking trees. He looks up into a tree and sees Jace, knife in one hand and an axe fixed to his stump. He attacks the White Masks like a whirlwind, a murder of crows in his wake. One young girl breaks free and runs back to Jolie. She only has time to say that Jace escaped before she is dead.
Face to face with Jolie, Jace demands that she give Sunny back to him. More of her White Masks run up. As he attacks her, his memories come back. Remembering Jolie as a child, insisting he could not hurt her because she is family. As an adult, she insists that she is family. He prepares for the killing blow when Sunny strikes him.
Sunny insists that Jolie is the one who saved him. She listens to him. She cares about him. She helped him, and Jace would not. Jolie is his friend. Jace looks on, stunned. Jolie has gotten into the little boy’s head so quickly. He was not quick enough. Was coming back that big of a mistake?
A HUNTER REBORN
House of Slaughter #15 is like a nightmare. No matter how many kids Jace saves, more lives are lost. No matter how good a fighter he is, he cannot be everywhere at once. This theme runs through the entire issue with the red of fresh blood constantly reminding him of the consequences of his actions. From the monster on the school bus to the fight with the White Masks, the color that draws our eye is the red of blood which is echoed in the sound of crows cawing. Jace was a butcher once. No matter how he tries to distance himself from that past, it keeps reaching out to him and pulling him in.
Sunny is the catalyst of the story. He is young and has come face to face with far more trauma than any kid should have to deal with. His decisions are influenced by his fears and anxieties. After living a life of hiding in the woods, he had a small taste of what felt to him like the family he has lost. Jolie is terrible and kind at the same time, but her melodramatic attention to him overrides his fears. She has used him as monster bait. Still, he remembers the attention, the flattery, being made to feel special. Despite his fears, he can muster enough courage to stand up for her and physically injure Jace.
BOTTOM LINE: RUNNING OUT OF CHOICES
House of Slaughter #15 is an issue that makes your heart sink. This is a horror story, and only some of the monsters are creatures. Human monsters are trickier and at least as dangerous as the other kind.
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House of Slaughter #15
Jace did not heed the warnings and walked right into a trap.