In a world of monsters and monster hunters, not everyone faces the darkness with a weapon in hand.
Further expanding the world of Something is Killing the Children, series creator James Tynion IV hands off writing duties to Sam Johns for a fresh story featuring a new character and shining a light on a different corner of an increasingly complex world of monsters—both supernatural and human.
From BOOM! Studios, House of Slaughter: Scarlet offers a completely new narrative set in the aftermath of Erica Slaughter’s disruption of her order. With monster hunters spread thin and the future uncertain, Edwin Slaughter finds himself called away from his service as a scribe for the Order of St. George so that he may investigate rumors of monster activity at a summer camp. The job should be a simple matter of dispelling rumors, but there is something ancient beneath the lake and darkness creeping in at the edges. Even more dangerous may be the secrets of Edwin’s past, secrets even he himself no longer remembers.
With Sam Johns writing the script, this new volume in the House of Slaughter storyline adopts a slightly different tone from previous volumes. There are still plenty of monsters, but Edwin is not a hunter. With less action, our hero—a scribe with eidetic memory—has time to ponder the nature of the monsters themselves. As he debates with his monstrous familiar, Scarlet introduces a more philosophical bend than the series has previously seen. Still, as much as the story contemplates its big ideas, it doesn’t lose track of the fact that in this world monsters are real—and they are always dangerous. Ultimately, Scarlet does occasionally get weighed down, pondering its own ideas, but I love seeing a series take a risk, and even if this volume isn’t the best of the series, Johns brings a welcome new perspective to an engaging world.
Capturing all of this on the page, Letizia Cadonici delivers art that is both grim and fantastic, shaping a world that fits this story while complementing the visual style established elsewhere in this series. Eyes and masks remain a focus, telling us things about the characters as they issue veiled threats and navigate a hostile world. From flashbacks and moments of gruesome violence to sequences of art and imagination, Cadonici brings bold life to this newest chapter, populating Tynion and Johns’ world with both hunters and prey.
BOOM! doesn’t provide an age rating for this volume. These series have always walked a line of maturity, offering certain appeal to teen readers while dealing in horror imagery and sometimes graphic violence. Scarlet offers much the same content as previous volumes, though its slower story and more idea-driven writing will likely appeal more to the older edge of the target audience. Though the story largely stands alone, it’s most likely to be appreciated by those who are already familiar with Something is Killing the Children and the previous (though unconnected) story arc in House of Slaughter.
While Scarlet may not be the strongest entry in this universe, it definitely will not disappoint existing fans while also delivering a bold volume in its own right. It’s a comic that dares to try something a little different while maintaining the connective tissue of what has come before. With dramatic monster action alongside big ideas, House of Slaughter: Scarlet continues to be a horror series well worth adding to any collection for older readers.
House of Slaughter, vol. 2: Scarlet
By Sam Johns
Art by Letizia Cadonici
BOOM! Studios, 2022
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)