By: Matt Ringel (@BadBeaverComics)
Something was killing the children until that something itself was killed. So, the town of Archer’s Peak and James can finally live in peace, right? Probably not, at least for James. After the climactic ending of the first three volumes, we see Erica Slaughter and James leaving town. It seems that the work is never done for Erica and her new companion.
Volume 4 features the same art we’ve been treated to throughout the series. Werther Dell’Edera and colorist Miguel Muerto continue to bring an awesome visual experience, and unlike the first volumes, #4 takes place less at night and is instead illustrated with brighter scenes and colors. The darker scenes still feature the more muted palettes with splashes of red which we now know means that some blood and horror is coming our way.
This new volume takes a step back from the events in Archer’s Peak and provides us with somewhat of a breather from the gore-laden monster infestation that the first three volumes treated us to (Although Tynion doesn’t ease off the pedal in terms of rich visceral storytelling). We get a chance to see Erica’s backstory, what turned her into the monster slayer she is today. Like many of the other main characters in the story, Erica’s origin is filled with tragedy and trauma. However, even at 12 years old, she’s able to use that trauma and turn it into a weapon against the things that killed her loved ones. She is saved by Jessica Slaughter and brought to the Order of St. George. There she is taught about the secret world of monster-slaying and that it’s a worldwide operation. Erica undergoes the initiation process, facing resistance and doubt from the rest of the Order. It’s a bit of an overused trope that lacks gravity or suspense since we know she becomes an ass-kicking monster slayer and not dead. However, ignoring what we know coming into this volume, it still works and helps toward character development. It also gives us a bit of a glimpse into why Erica may have that chip on her shoulder.
Tynion took the opportunity with this volume to thoroughly explore the world of Something is Killing the Children. We’re given much more insight into the Order of St. George and how it is structured and governed. Jessica gave us some awareness of the personal relationships in the Order. But when we’re introduced to Gary Slaughter, he really fleshes out the organization. We learn more about the tattoos, the meanings of each bandana, and the origin of the totems. We’re teased that there are regional differences and a very deep history that may or may not include actual dragons. Tynion is clearly building a huge world that he plans on telling stories in for a long time, and I look forward to seeing all the different lore he brings to the table.
Something is Killing the Children Volume #4 is a welcomed step back from the first three volumes, exploring the world in construction, and a good intermission that will hopefully bridge us back to the current events and to what is going on with Erica, James, and the Order of St. George. The most important takeaway for me from this volume, though…what color of Bandana would you wear?