Something Is Killing The Children #2 is published by BOOM! Studios, written by James Tynion IV, with art by Werther Dell’Edera, colors by Miquel Muerto, and lettering from AndWorld Design. After arriving in a small town caught in the grips of a series of child murders, the mysterious ‘monster hunter’ Erica Slaughter sets up camp in the most unexpected of places.
After the visceral monster attacks of its debut issue, Something Is Killing the Children #2 takes a step back from the horror to catch its breath and give us a better picture of the cast of characters. Freshly arrived in Archer’s Peak, our main player is Erica Slaughter, a mysterious young drifter who claims to hunt monsters. Joining Erica in her hunt is James, the teenage survivor of a savage monster attack that left three of his friends in body bags. While most folks in town suspect James of killing his friends, James knows the truth. To track down the beasts of Archer’s Peak, James turns to the enigmatic Erica Slaughter for help.
Something Is Killing the Children #2 also brings a new character onto the scene. A young man who appears to be in his early 20s, Tommy Mahoney lives with his mother and manages the local Applebeans. Tommy’s life used to be normal until not too long ago. Back then his younger sister Sophie was alive and happy. But then Sophie vanished, just like all those other missing kids in town. Without a body, the police can’t say whether she’s alive or dead. That uncertainty has worn away at Tommy’s mother, leaving her a shell of her former self. So Tommy wakes up every morning and does what he can to keep his family from washing away. This proves to be a challenge when Erica Slaughter decides to turn Tommy’s Applebeans into her base of operations.
There are so many things Something Is Killing the Children #2 does well. But Tynion’s evolving portrayal of a small town in crisis leaps out at me the most. In Something Is Killing The Children #1, Tynion laid out the external signs of Archer’s Peak damage. Smiling school portraits of missing children envelop the town bulletin board. The children whose bodies the police recovered haunt Archer’s Peak as well. They stare at their former classmates from over-sized portraits that line the walkway to the school. Each slain child’s picture day smile stands as an open wound in a town whose horrors have no end in sight.
In Something Is Killing the Children #2, Tynion sets his sights on showcasing internal trauma. In Archer’s Peak’s, that trauma expresses itself as cruelty and paranoia. James’ classmates routinely accuse him of murdering his friends, turning the boy’s sexual orientation into a weapon. Even total strangers who see James, spread misinformation about him, sharing the lie that James withheld information from the police. In the case of the Mahoney family, the child slayings have worn them out and hardened their hearts.
Even if Erica Slaughter could hunt down the monsters preying on Archer Peak’s children tomorrow, adults can’t see the monsters. No matter what, the families of the lost children can never actually understand what happened to their children. Adults can’t seem to see monsters, let alone believe in them. It’s heartbreaking and definitely paints Tommy in a sympathetic light.
Something is Killing the Children #2 may not have the visceral horror that marked the debut issue, but by focusing on its main cast and the current state of Archer’s Peak, the issue further grounds its story in bleak reality. The monsters may be on their way. But the damage they leave and the lives they ruin are here to stay.
Something Is Killing The Children #2 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Rating: 5/5 Stuffed Octopi
Something is Killing the Children #2
Something is Killing the Children #2 may not have the visceral horror that marked the debut issue, but by focusing on its main cast and the current state of Archer’s Peak, the issue further grounds its story in bleak reality.