Graphic Novel Review: Something is Killing the Children Vol. 02 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera

Remember when I said that Killing the Children isn’t only horror? Reading this second volume, it’s kind of hard not to bonk myself on the head, because the horror elements, my friends, are nothing if not manifold.

Let’s get this out of the way: Should you pick up the second volume of this comic book? The answer is clear, definite, and indisputable: Yes. What the first volume does, the second one does, too. It does it better, by raising the stakes to what seems an impossible degree, by using a slow-burn build-up of tension that electrifies every page.

Never, not for a moment, does it let up. Not when we jump inside the House of Slaughter, an organisation whose purpose is not perhaps as straightforward as we might think; not when we are introduced to Aaron, Erica Slaughter’s handler, a prim, prickly member of the organization whose stylish exterior hides unexpected depths. The tense relationship between him and Erica, the tight rope he has to walk as we readers are let in on the nature of his mission long before Erica catches up–the possibilities for conflict are delicious.

Tension is generated as much through the stalking monstrosities in the dark as it is through humans, most of whom are getting progressively more frightened–and you know what that means. The more scared we are, the more prone to making the worst decisions imaginable.

I find that I’m not at all immune to the sheer pain of loss that this comic touched upon. Several bitter tragedies strike in the culmination of this volume, and they left me reeling. I’ll find my mind wander back to these scenes and their implications, my empathy dialed up way higher than it usually gets when I engage with horror. That’s testament to the world and characters and situations Tynion has written and Werther Dell’Edera has drawn up.

This series affects me. It affects me deeply, and I’m struggling even now not to open up Issue 11 and get on with it. So I might as well go and do that–here’s to hoping I live the experience down.

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