History is alive. It shapes the present just as surely as the immediate moment does, if not more so. When a work of fiction delves into its internal history, it can make for an enlightening, rewarding experience that deepens its readers’ understanding and appreciation of the work. It can also lead to an utter slog that chomps down onto its own tail and devours itself.
Fortunately, Something is Killing the Children‘s 17th issue, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera, written by James Tynion IV, colored by Miquel Muerto, and lettered by AndWorld Design is very much the former.
Erica, who will eventually become Erica Slaughter, one of the Order of St. George’s monster hunters, is newly arrived at the Order’s headquarters. Her parents and best friend are dead, brutally slain by a monster. She is alive. She fought the beast off for long enough for Jessica, one of the Order, to seal the creature in Erica’s plush octopus. Jessica, both impressed and well aware that Erica’s been through horror, offers her a position in the Order. Now at the House of Slaughter, Erica’s sudden initiation into the Order — controversial at best with Jessica’s peers and superiors — begins.
Muerto and Dell’Edera command scale with a similar strength during Something is Killing the Children #17’s nightmare/memory sequence. The titular “Something” is only in one panel, and then heavily in shadow. But it’s a multi-limbed monstrosity bound as much to the panel frames as it is the space within them. Through Muerto’s black grid and precise reds and Dell’Edera’s thick panel lines and expressive body language, the monster dominates the sequence despite its minimal page time.
Author James Tynion IV matches his collaborators in Something is Killing the Children‘s craft. Issue #17 turns on a series of private conversations — between Erica and Jessica, Erica and fellow hunter-in-training Aaron, and Jessica and her rival in the Order Cecilia. Each is fraught, but fraught in a distinct, specific way. Jessica wants to do right by Erica, even though she may well have doomed her. Aaron and Erica get off to a rough start, but they’ve got enough in common to spin a halting bond. Jessica and Cecilia have history, history that informs everything from how they approach hunting to how they drink together.
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