A foreboding terror lurks at the edge of the reader’s peripheral vision in James Tynion IV’s horror thriller Something Is Killing the Children. Nine kids have turned up dead in the sleepy town of Archer’s Peak within just two weeks—while a handful of others remain missing at large. Supernatural eeriness wrapped in an intriguing mystery steers the plot in this horrific tale that baffles the mind. The opening begins with a campfire style scenario centered on a game of truth or dare amongst a group of teenage boys exchanging scary stories. The scene then switches to one of the boys, Jimmy, who has single-handedly witnessed the demise of one of the children and is now being interrogated by the police.

As this bizarre mystery thickens, a pony-tailed blonde donning a skull-like face covering (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer) arrives on the outskirts of town. Wielding a pair of machetes and covered in smeared blood, Erica Slaughter is hell-bent on tracking down the monsters that have supposedly devoured the missing children. She projects a mysterious aura, speaking only a few words at a time, and occasionally consults with a quirky talking stuffed octopus. When the situation requires, she leaps into action with a fierce, vengeful determination. Jimmy crosses paths with her, and the two embark on a mission to hunt down the monstrosities that have consumed the young lost souls of Archer’s Peak.

Thus begins an enigmatic tale laced with mounting tension, mystery, and impending dread. Along the way comes another character named Tommy in search of his missing sister. His quest leads him to Erica, whom he suspects must somehow be connected to the onslaught of vanished children. Meanwhile, the town’s Sheriff Cavanaugh whittles away at the missing pieces of this puzzle surrounding the mysterious deaths. While these characters act independently of each other, their paths ultimately converge, generating faceted subplots that crystallize over time. Tynion ratchets up the suspense meter with a steady, narrative pace, dropping clues strategically while building each character in the process. Like a noir television series, events unfold like intricate pieces of an interlocking puzzle, drawing readers deeper into this chilling mystery.

Complementing Tynion’s storytelling, Werther Dell’Edera and Miquel Muerto introduce key characters with ocular facial expressions while adding thick color tones to the background in creating a surrealistic atmospheric mood. Action scenes unfold through each panel with close-up shots and sound effects, blending against a somber background amidst clashing colors, sometimes with characters caught in mid-action. In certain scenes, Muerto incorporates violet hues into striking action sequences, infusing the panels with a dream-like ambience.

The inaugural volume of Something Is Killing the Children sets the stage for an uncanny mystery, perplexing characters harboring dark secrets, and supernatural elements that intrigue. Each chapter tantalizes readers with clues that hold them in anticipation of elusive answers. Just as the works of Stephen King fill a horror niche in every library collection, so will this graphic novel attract adult horror fans seeking a mix of horror and mystery to whet their literary appetites. The end of this preliminary volume will leave readers clamoring for the next volume in this thrilling limited series.

Something Is Killing the Children
By James Tynion IV
Art by Werther Dell’Edera
ISBN: 9781684155583
Boom! Studios, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: General Adult

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NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)

  • Jerry

    | He/Him Information Strategist, San Francisco Public Library

    Reviewer

    By day, Jerry Dear, APALA member and Information Strategist at the San Francisco Public Library tackles research questions in the Periodicals department. He also teaches in the Library Information Technology department at City College of San Francisco. By night, he serves the Asian American community and ventures into the vibrant literary arts and graphic novel scene. In whatever time remains, he indulges in comics, anime, manga, and Asian American literature and film.

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