Writer: James Tynion IV & Tate Brombal
Illustrator: Werther Dell'Edera & Chris Shehan
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
WHAT IS IT?
House of Slaughter #1 expands upon the Something is Killing the Children comic in a spinoff horror series about Black Mask member Aaron Slaughter's origins.
The comic combines humor and social dynamics like the film Love and Monsters and largely takes place in a boarding house training assassins like the fantasy novel Nightmare Academy: Monster Hunters.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Before he earned his teeth, Aaron Slaughter's journey toward transforming into a Black Mask, a bona fide monster hunter, at the House of Slaughter was wrought with turmoil. Other initiates bully Aaron for his weaknesses during battle training. As an initiate at the Order of St. George, the trained group who work to eradicate monsters and keep their existence a secret, Aaron's emotional instability poses problems.
The secret order of monster hunters housing psychologically and physically traumatized children refuses to make concessions for any of their potential Masks. When a new student, a White Mask trainee, enters the House of Slaughter, he creates further complications for Aaron.
Tate Brombal's storytelling vision matches James Tynion's precisely. Characterization is evident without feeling over-expository as the narrative alternates between Aaron's present-day and former POVs.
Chris Shehan captures passion and intensity in the illustrations similarly to SiKtC artist Werther Dell'Edera. The two pour emotion onto the page with somber scenes like the portrayal of Aaron's downcast, swollen face as he berates himself after his failed training.
As always, Miquel Muerto's colors produce feelings of trepidation. Splashes of red appear against the muted earth tones in most panels, simulating the constant sense of blood and murder always subtly present.
Lettering duties are assigned to AndWorld Design, and the text placement within word balloons emits steady pacing for the narrative.
The font delineating Aaron's narrative through his journal logs takes on an italic appearance. The handwritten typeface takes on a sharpness, easily legible and oriented with how you would imagine Aaron's penmanship to resemble.
Both time periods, present-day Aaron searching for a child versus flashbacks to Aaron's life in the House of Slaughter fifteen years prior, thematically crossover. The parallels are similar, telling two stories simultaneously to expand upon Aaron's character development.
The artists and colorist differentiate both time periods distinctly through changes in lighting, color palletes, and the hardened versus youthful expression Aaron wears in separate points of his life.
The art and designs are outstanding in this issue. Emulating the horizontal splash pages from SiKtC, these spreads stand out in terms of panel layout, combining action with emotion, and telling entire stories on two pages with limited dialogue.
Throughout the issue, readers witness Aaron's private idiosyncrasies but also see how his interactions with others affect him. His emotional state is consistently in flux. Characters like Jessica and Helen's squad pull back the veil on how Aaron is highly susceptible to sociological influence.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Blood and gore involving a trapped animal open the comic issue, but the rest of the story is devoid of too much violence. Language, bullying, and general distress are present here.
This series isn't a great jumping-on point for new readers. People who pick up this first issue who don't know anything about Something is Killing the Children will most likely feel confused.
Because House of Slaughter is a spinoff series of Something is Killing the Children, there are multiple callbacks to the characters, themes, and concepts from the aforementioned comic series. This first issue contains a lot of setup about ideas already established in the SiKtC universe without expanding on the lore much until the midpoint.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
A breakout character from Something is Killing the Children, transitioning into telling Aaron Slaughter's story with his own series is a genius storytelling direction. House of Slaughter #1 aligns with future Aaron's personality while ushering in a new perspective to his character. In only one issue, readers learn an immense amount about the elusive Aaron Slaughter.
Bringing on Tate Bromball and artist Chris Shehan to this comic series only expands upon the narrative insight and visual texture to the ravenous world Tynion and Dell'Edera created. The opening pages draw you in with technical craft fully on display.
This comic is a must-buy for SiKtC fans. House of Slaughter #1 hooks your attention with long claws and sharpened teeth. This series won't be releasing anyone from its attention-grabbing jaws anytime soon.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV & Álvaro Martínez Bueno
The Department of Truth by James Tynion IV & Martin Simmonds
Killadelphia by Rodney Barnes & Jason Shawn Alexander
If you like the art:
Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV & Werther Dell'Edera
The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus & Chris Shehan
I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell & Sally Cantirino
ABOUT THE CREATORS.
James Tynion IV – Writer (@JamesTheFourth)
Prolific: Tynion is the best selling writer of Batman, and many other titles for DC Comics, including Detective Comics, Justice League Dark, and the New York Times best selling Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy.
Indie Darling: He is also the co-creator of Wynd, Something is Killing The Children, Memetic, and the GLAAD award winning series, The Woods.
Dog Lover: He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY with his partner and their nice old dog.
Tate Brombal – Writer (@TateBrombal)
Brombal is a comic and TV writer who graduated from Ryerson University’s Radio & Television Arts - Media Production program where he specialized in writing for the screen.
On the Rise: Brombal created the comic mini-series Barbalian: Red Planet with Eisner-winning artist Gabriel Hernández Walta. His previous work includes the Black Hammer Encyclopedia and the short comic The God of Roadside Memorials.
Tate hails from Toronto. You can find his website here.
Werther Dell'Edera – Illustrator (@wertherscut)
Dream Team: Dell' Edera is an Italian comic book artist and co-creator of Something is Killing the Children.
He has worked for major comic book publishers in both Italy and the U.S. like DC's Vertigo, IDW, Dark Horse, and Marvel.
Award Winner: He won awards for Best Artist, Best Cover Artist, and Best Series for his work on The Crow: Memento Mori.
Chris Shehan – Illustrator (@ChrisShehanArt)
Shehan is a published freelance illustrator for comics, cover illustration, and trading card illustration.
Shehan is the artist for the Vault Comics horror series, The Autumnal.
He lives in Austin, Texas.
Miquel Muerto – Colorist (@pollomuerto)
Dream Team: Muerto was the colorist for Something is Killing the Children with James Tynion and Werther Dell'Edera.
Muerto is a comic colorist for publishers like Boom! Studios, Vault, DC, & IDW.
He released a zine, El Médico + Simeón, which can be purchased here.
AndWorld Design – Letterer (@andworlddesign)
A lettering design studio founded by Eisner, Harvey, and Ringo nominated letterer, Deron Bennet.
Have previously worked with DC Comics, Marvel, BOOM Studios, and many more.
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All House of Slaughter #1 characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright James Tynion IV, Werther Dell'Edera, or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED