The first book in Lemire and Sorrentino’s new Bone Orchard Mythos is a brief, atmospheric tale very similar to their previous collaboration Gideon Falls. It has the same visual language, as well as a tendency towards mystical abstraction in the story telling. The central story is about a geologist named John Reed who is sent to a remote lighthouse to investigate strange phenomena. He finds a seemingly endless pit in the rocks. It calls to him for some reason, which may relate to his memories of his mother (a recurring part of the story, which is never fully explained). Something seems off about lighthouse keeper Sal: she admits to not having left the island for decades, despite the fact that the lighthouse is not operational. When she attacks Reed with a shovel and shoves him into the pit, he encounters an impossible mystical landscape before emerging in the ocean by the island banks. Sal and her brother Dougie (who brought the geologist to the island on his boat) tell Reed that he has to go back down to fix the light. Hard to understand what any of it means–presumably things will become clearer as the Mythos expands–but you can’t beat Sorrentino and Stewart for visual atmosphere.
This is the first chapter of the final arc of the series. Years after the events at Kings Dominion, the series checks in on Marcus and Saya: what if they were hired to kill each other? Will she choose to take her place as head of the Kuroki Syndicate, or will she choose revenge? The narrative begins in 2001, and before long we also see what happened to Maria. She put out a contract on her husband and his mistress, which Marcus comes to fulfill. 2006 finds Marcus and Maria getting married in Las Vegas, with Helmut and two other classmates as witnesses. The collection closes with gay couple John and Stephen commenting on the Marcus and Maria wedding, before they are both assassinated by a mystery assailant. At first I thought the Marcus and Maria story was a fantasy or an imaginary future, but the assassinations that conclude the collection would indicate that it was real. Looking forward to learning the assassin’s identity, and I expect it to tie in to the twisted history of plots and double-crosses that have characterized the series.
House of Slaughter Vol. 1: The Butcher’s Mark
James Tynion IV & Tate Brombal, story; Tate Brombal, script; Chris Sheehan, illustrator; Miquel Muerto, colorist; Werner Dell’Edera, designs & development
BOOM! Studios, 2022
This prequel to the series Something Is Killing the Children shows the workings of the monster-hunting order House of Slaughter that trained Erica Slaughter. In that series, Aaron Slaughter was Erica’s handler and rival. But before he donned the black mask, Aaron was a teenager training within the House of Slaughter. Surviving within the school was tough enough–Aaron had to compete against cold-blooded students who seem to have been raised to do nothing but hunt monsters–but it got even more complicated when he fell for a mysterious boy destined to be his competition. Jace (the Butcher) was a legacy hunter, but he came to the House of Slaughter only for revenge. Fifteen years later, Aaaron was sent to kill Jace in retribution. But he found a way to reunite with his lover while still satisfying the House of Slaughter. The promise of the Butcher’s return at the end of the collection is welcome. Co-creators James Tynion IV and Werner Dell’Edera were only minimally involved in the creation of this story, but writer Tate Brombal and artist Chris Sheehan (aided by regular series colorist Miquel Muerto) did a great job maintaining the tone of the series, visually and narratively.