BOOM! Studios continue to show me love, giving me this amazing collected volume to read ahead of its UK release in June of this year. It’s a blinder of a title and writer James Tynion IV and artist Werther Dell’Edera (and aren’t those a couple of names to conjure with?) are instant follows for me on the back of it.
I first saw mention of this title in an SFX review in January, based on issues 1-3. This volume collects issues 1-5 and rounds out the opening mystery for protagonist Erica Slaughter, two-fisted monster killer. Comparisons with Buffy are obvious, but this is a rich world all its own with a much darker heart. The art and the tone are immediately reminiscent of 30 Days of Night, with Dell’Edera’s scratchy, grimy art very much in the Ben Templesmith vein. It immediately puts to rest any feeling that we’ve seen this story before, despite the clear kinship with Stephen King, Joe Hill, Stranger Things and the folk horror trend we’re currently enjoying.
Children are being murdered, horrifically, in the town of Archer’s Peak, and no one seems to be able to stop it, until Erica Slaughter arrives in town, under orders from a shady, unseen power. Aided, willingly and unwillingly, by survivors, cops and relatives of the missing and dead, she intends to put the killer down. What reads as a simple premise is enriched by realistic characters who all have depth and all make a contribution, and an unfolding background universe that promises to be both weird and wonderful, and morally complicated. The agendas of whoever or whatever commands Erica’s actions are far from black and white. Knowing who is on who’s side is a challenge. The script – in contrast to the art – is clean but it doesn’t lack for twists.
I loved this book, and I’ll be keeping up with it.