The imagination of a child is a powerful thing… but young Rose is about to find out there are forces even more powerful. Your Major Spoilers review of Kill Your Darlings #1 from Image Comics awaits!
KILL YOUR DARLINGS #1
Writer: Ethan S. Parker and Griffin Sheridan
Artist: Robert Quinn
Colorist: Robert Quinn
Letterer: John J. Hill
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 6, 2023
Previously in Kill Your Darlings: Eight-year-old Rose loves nothing more than to play pretend in a magical land of her own creation. To her, that world is as real as our own, from her fluffy friends to the terrible evil that lurks at the center of it all. In one night, the line between fantasy and reality will disappear, an ancient hunger will feed again, and Rose will be pulled into a gruesome saga that began centuries before her birth.
IN A WORLD OF HER OWN
Our story begins in the year 1692, an era that history buffs likely recognize, a prologue that implies that there’s magic involved. Cut to 1995, where young Rose plays out the latest adventure in the secret kingdom of Rosewood, accompanied by her stuffie friends and the magical sword Francine. Taking a break from her exertions, Rose finds her mother engrossed in trying to pay their bills and keep the lights on in their home, but returns to play the battle to its end. She then signs a peace treaty with the creepy crawlies (because Mom taught her to make friends, even with the monsters. Before she gets sent to bed, Rose’s friend Wallace the elephant brings her news of something strange happening in the North country, a detail that she knows she didn’t make up. The next night, when she returns to the kingdom of her dreams, Rose is overcome by the urge to take her crayons and draw what has happened in Rosewood… A massacre of her imaginary subjects by “A Great and Terrible Evil.”
TAKES A TERRIFYING TURN
Even knowing what the solicitation materials told us ahead of time, this issue surprised me. Rose’s seeming trance state as she begins drawing is just riveting, but the entire last third of the book continues raising the stakes from there. By the final page, it’s clear that Kill Your Darlings isn’t going to play nice just because the protagonist is a third grader. The use of bright colors and art that evokes animation cels in Rosewood gives it a sense of unreality, while scenes set in reality have a rougher edge and a more muted palette. The contrast helps to make both parts of the narrative stronger, as does the dialogue. There’s a subtlety to the storytelling that makes it clear Parker and Sheridan are names to watch, especially the scene where Rose runs away from literal rivers of blood, only to find a kindly voice that will explain to her what happened.
And then, another turn.
BOTTOM LINE: AN EXCELLENT FIRST ISSUE
The upshot of Kill Your Darlings #1 is the feeling that the creators have invested a great deal of time and care into making Rose’s story familiar and fresh all at once, with art that manages to transition from fantasy to reality while supporting both, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. There’s an expert-level moment in these pages that references The Wizard of Oz, clearly honoring a story influence without breaking the spell of this story, which by itself will bring me back for more.
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KILL YOUR DARLINGS #1
A fine balance of unpleasant reality and fairy tale makes this one memorable, and the art brings it all together.