Short Cuts 58: Something is Killing the Children Vol. 3; Hey Kids! Comics! Volume 2 – Prophets & Loss; Stillwater Vol. 2 – Always Loyal

Something is Killing the Children Vol. 3
James Tynion IV, writer; Werther Dell’Edera, illustrator; Miquel Muerto, colorist
BOOM! Studios, 2021

This collection opens with Archer’s Peak in lockdown, with almost the whole town hiding in the high school auditorium. Erica Slaughter is desperately trying to regain control of the situation, but when the House of Slaughter arrives it appears that they may have keeping the existence of monsters a secret as their only priority. They begin by cutting the town off from the outside world, and things don’t look good for the survival of the townspeople, who have seen far too much that cannot be explained away rationally. Erica has an epic monster fight (with James’ help, although he seems to have had a surprising role in the appearance of the monsters). The coverup becomes unnecessary when someone agrees to take the fall for the monster murders. Erica meets with the Dragon and renounces both the House of Slaughter and the Order of St. George. The final scene shows both her and James heading out of town on a bus. The end of this part of the story, but clearly there is more to tell.

Hey Kids! Comics! Volume 2: Prophets & Loss
Howard Chaykin, writer & artist; Yen Nitro, colorist; Ken Bruzenak: letterer
Image Comics, 2022

Chaykin continues his faux-history of the comic book industry in this second (and final?) installment. Like the first volume, the story jumps around from decade to decade. The story begins in 1970, with a young comic book fan (at a time when comics are not cool); then jumps back to 1951, where some of those beloved comics were created (despite all of the challenges, including a crusader named Martin Westgate who declares comics to represent “the corruption of today’s youth”). That story concludes with the creation of the Comics Code Authority and the introduction of the black and white humor magazine Wak, a clear reference to Mad Magazine (rendered in black and white for dramatic effect). The timetable includes 1955 (“…and the blush is off the rose”); 1958 (“And the laughs just won’t stop”); 1960 (“and the times they are a-changing”); 1962; 1964; 1965; 1971 (“…and you’ve come a long way, baby”); 1975 (“California dreaming”); and 2002 (“And a hometown boy makes good”). There are lots of comic convention scenes, and since Chaykin takes the narrative into his own lifetime the story is a bit more personal than the first installment (but in the back matter he muses about the universality of his experience). The back matter also includes several short comics.

Stillwater Vol. 2: Always Loyal
Chip Zdarsky, creator/writer; Ramón Pérez, creator/artist; Mike Spicer, colorist
Image Comics, 2022

The previous volume ended in chaos and confusion, the town courthouse blown up in a coup attempt. Ted’s Marine buddy Kreegs and his crew move in and take over. Daniel and Laura were part of the rebellion, but after the debacle they decided to run (just as mystified by the explosion as everyone else, but sure they will be blamed for it anyway). The Marines spread out to contain the rebels, and they get caught up in it. Daniel gets help from an unexpected source: one of the Stillwater children. Turns out that the children have been planning their own coup for a long time, hoping for a chance to grow up. Flashbacks show them working on it from the time Daniel arrived, staging events for his benefit. Things are a little different with Galen (the head child) and the militia in charge in place of the Judge–but not by much. There are also several flashbacks that reveal the backdrop to the structure of the town: how the sheriff does the job, as well as the judge. Laura takes an infant out of town, the child most in need of a “normal” maturation process. When Laura returns to town for her son, there is the possibility of an effective rebellion, which comes to a truly surprising conclusion. She saves her son in an unexpected way, which may have remarkable repercussions. I have to say that Pérez’s art seemed far sketchier and more minimal than I remembered, but it does the job.

About marksullivan5

Freelance Journalist & Musician; Senior Contributor, All About Jazz.com; writing on comics at mrvertigocomics.com & No Flying, No Tights.com
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