It’s that time of year where inevitably the conversation almost unanimously becomes “what was the best XYZ of the year”. And when talking about comics, without a doubt, Something is Killing the Children was all set to take the top spot over everything else. Up until its prequel, House of Slaughter hit the shelves. As with Something is Killing the Children, House of Slaughter might not have the best art out there, the best story or even the most original concept, but combine all the separate elements, and you’re left with a comic that’s worth every last bit of hype that it’s received – countless times over.
Written for BOOM! Studios (Alienated; BRZRKR; Folklords) by the insanely talented James Tynion IV (The Woods; Department of Truth; WYND) and Tate Brombal (Wayward Kindred; Black Hammer; Barbalien) with illustrations by Werther Dell’Edera (Something is Killing the Children; Loveless; House of Mystery)and art by Chris Shehan (The Wilds; Deadbeat; Displaced) comes a new series fast gearing up to be the new horror series of the year, House of Slaughter.
In Something is Killing the Children, the concept is that childhood fears can (and will) physically manifest into actual monsters that are only visible to children and who feed on those children. There is a secret order of monster hunters in this world; people who had survived these monsters when they were children are trained to hunt them down and kill them before the rest of the world can know about them. House of Slaughter is the spin-off of this series.
House of Slaughter further expands on the concept created in Something is Killing the Children. This time, the story is told through the eyes of a young Aaron Slaughter. The story switches between two time periods, who Aaron is now and who he used to be as a child. During Something is Killing the Children, a grownup and somewhat arrogant version of Aaron was first introduced to us. Aaron was Erica’s handler, and during House of Slaughter, we see the tragic tale that turned him into who he is today. Surviving the House of Slaughter is hard enough, but when Aaron falls in love with his rival, you have a story of young love that threatens to rip your still-beating heart right out of your chest alongside Aarons.
House of Slaughter is a series you should definitely be keeping your eyes on. If it only grows to reach a small fraction of the success of Something is Killing the Children, it is still set to be one of the top new comic series of 2021. Everything about the formula House of Slaughter uses works. Even though House of Slaughter is only 2 Issues in, the action-packed horror is already delivering all of the feels and dragging me into the depths of its dark and twisted world once more.
While not my favourite, the art and colour pallets are integral to making sure the comic works. While I wouldn’t say House of Slaughter has the best art style, it does have the perfect style to compliment the story. There is a constant feeling of dread and tension on the page, which contrasts perfectly with the palpable innocence and sensitivity of the protagonist.
Make no mistake, beneath its tale of young love and heartbreak, House of Slaughter is still very much a horror comic like its predecessor, only this time the horror doesn’t just come from the monsters, but the other people. It’s a comic where the scares come from the phycological scars and trauma left behind instead of just the shock of the moment. House of Slaughter is a comic with a single message to deliver: Sometimes we hunt monsters and sometimes the monsters hunt us.
If House of Slaughter is your first introduction to the larger “slaughterverse”, then this is the perfect time to pick up Something is Killing the Children while you’re at it. While you could technically start and end with House of Slaughter, you would be missing out on a lot of the deeper story and lore. Netflix recently announced that they had picked up Something is Killing the Children, and in collaboration with Mike Flanagan of The Haunting of Hill House, they are currently working on an original TV series.
We all know that the success rate of spinoffs is not high. Just because people fell in love with the core universe doesn’t mean they want to follow other characters on other adventures within it. That being said, House of Slaughter never feels like it’s trying to be a spinoff. Instead, it feels like its own independent comic that happens, by chance, to share the same universe as Something is Killing the Children. While I won’t go as far as to say it’s as strong as the former, it’s off to an excellent start, and the only way to go from here is up.
If this review inspired you to pick up either House of Slaughter or Something is Killing the Children, then remember to head to Critters and Comics. House of Slaughter is available as 4 Single Issues and should soon be collected into a single TP. If you don’t know what any of that means, but you’d like to, click on our commonly used comic terms only post here.