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Miquel Muerto

Something is Killing the Children

Something is Killing the Children– if this title doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will!

In a quiet Wisconsin town, children are disappearing. While most will never come back, a precious few escape and come back with horrifying stories of a monster in the shadows. The townspeople are distraught, so enter Erica Slaughter, who comes to Archer’s Peak ready to kill the monster on hand. This Goth looking Buffy The Vampire Slayer interviews a survivor and heads into the woods to kick some ass.

The world-building is intriguing, as you can’t help but wonder at Erica’s past and her intentions. There are hints that she belongs to a society of monster-killers, each with a small talking talisman- her’s being a purple octopus plushie.  She has quite an interesting look, her side-swept bangs always camouflaging one of her eyes along with what looks to be a glowing implant in the side of her face. She often wears a mask to cover the lower half of her face, with a fang motif, that I have to admit would be a bad-ass print to wear on a facemask nowadays with the pandemic we are in the middle of.

The artwork is definitely atmospheric- gloomy, creepy and bloody. Drawn by Werther Dell’Edera, his work is sketchy and imprecise. There are many closeups of people, and some come off as grotesque with an emphasis on crosshatching to signify lines and shadows. When fighting the monster, the gutters become black, with an even darker color palette. Colorist Miquel Muerto keeps all the colors muted, as to signify the darkness of the narrative.

I’ve heard good buzz on this new series- on Goodreads, on NetGalley and even better the staff at my comic-book store, Graham Crackers, recommended it to me.  It joins some books that have immediately hooked me in: Briggs Land (which Dell’Edera illustrated parts of V2), Locke & Key, Harrow County, Revival and Bone Parish. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance online copy so I could get in on what promises to be an exciting new horror series.

-Nancy

Bury the Lede

Madison Jackson interns at the prestigious Boston Lede newspaper, and she’s determined to prove that she deserves to be there. She picks up a crime scene in progress on a police scanner, the address of which is tied to a prominently social and wealthy family. Madison hopes to snatch up the scoop that will prove her worth, but she ends up being the scoop. Celebrity Dahlia Kennedy, accused of murdering her husband and son, refuses to talk to anyone but Madison, creating a social media storm that puts Madison right in the center of her own story. She tries to navigate the spotlight she doesn’t want, while trying to navigate her working relationship with Dahlia. They both want Madison to get to the truth, but Dahlia’s information doesn’t come easily, or cheaply. How far will Madison go to get the full story?

According to Wiktionary, to “bury the lede” means:

To begin a story with details of secondary importance to the reader while postponing more essential points or facts.

This graphic novel is aptly titled, as there are plot points that come up during the second act like a punch to the gut and change everything. I can’t say more without spoilers, but suffice it to say that this story wasn’t at all what I expected. It’s a psychological thriller in which you think you know the real story, who the characters really are, but by the end you find you don’t know anything at all.

The art was a little wonky – in some ways good, in some bad. The bad: the characters are rendered passably well, except for multiple instances where facial features are skewed one way or another for seemingly no reason. Lips, nose, eyes, would be slightly off-center or askew even when we’re looking at a character head-on. This occurred too often to be a printing error, and was off-putting and distracting for me. That said, the use of color, especially in the background as paint splatters, were effective in communicating lights, a mood, or a sudden emotion.

This graphic novel contains strong language, nudity, blood and gore, and love scenes, which puts it at high school age and up. The majority of the love scenes are between an LGBTQ+ couple. I must commend writer Gaby Dunn for the way these characters were written – they are characters, first and foremost, who just happen to be gay. As it turns out, Gaby herself is publicly bisexual and non-monogamous, and is a writer for various publications and media. She knew how important it was for the sexual orientation of her characters to not be a huge deal in the story, which can not only make the book awkward, but make it seem forced for the sake of inclusion and not serving the story. More media, not just graphic novels, with LGBTQ+ characters should strive to this standard.

-Kathleen

Dunn, Gaby, Claire Roe, and Miquel Muerto. Bury the Lede. 2019.

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