Halloween Showcase – Monster Hunters
This week for the Halloween Showcase, I wanted to move towards something a bit creepier and one of my favorite Halloween/horror themes, monster hunting! I was one of the weirdos who enjoyed watching Supernatural more in the first season when every episode was a new monster or spooky thing to hunt than when they had long, overarching plot lines involving Heaven and Hell. There’s something about the thrill of some dangerous, supernatural creature lurking out there in the dark that appeals to me on a primal level. Plus there’s a ton of cool creatures out there in all the different lore that can be drawn from and some of them are spooky as hell! So this week I took a look at two very different monster hunting comics, Bitter Root and Something Is Killing the Children.
Bitter Root is an ongoing horror/historical series originally published by Image Comics in 2019 and now up to 10 issues. Written by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown and illustrated by Sandford Greene, Bitter Root centers around the Sangerye family, well known for producing some of the greatest monster hunters of all time. Based out of 1920’s Harlem, the Sangeryes built their reputation by curing monsters known as Jinoo who are born out of hate in any human heart. But after the tragic deaths of some in the family, the Sangeryes are split on how to handle monsters right as a new breed of monsters appears on the streets of Harlem and will challenge every bit of the family’s strength if they mean to survive and to protect their city.
The focus of Bitter Root is not only on the drama unfolding within the Sangerye family but also how the prejudiced society of the 1920’s breeds monsters of all kinds and the damage that this does to everyday people and particularly to people like the Sangeryes who must decide how far they are willing to go in pursuit of monsters. And whether they should cure the monsters or just destroy them. The story itself is fast paced and intriguing, a re-telling of some pretty terrible parts of history with the inclusion of monsters and the way that racism can infect and damage in both overt and subtle ways. It’s not necessarily an easy read since it’s dealing with heavy material in a supernatural way but the intense action and fighting keep it from getting bogged down in drama. I didn’t immediately fall in love with Bitter Root, partly because I didn’t really have time to get to know many of the characters because of the fast pace but it’s well done and I think will appeal to anyone who wants to look at serious themes with a supernatural twist.
Something Is Killing the Children
Something Is Killing the Children is an ongoing horror series published by Boom! Studios in 2019, written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera. At the beginning of the story, children in the small town of Archer’s Peak start to disappear. Sometimes their bodies reappear in the aftermath of a bloody mess and some are just gone without a trace. Tensions mount as the police are unable to find an explanation, until a mysterious young woman named Erica Slaughter rides into town. Erica is a monster hunter who makes a habit of rolling into a town, clearing out the monsters that most adults don’t believe even exist and then making a quiet exit. It’s a dirty job but she knows the cost. Killing the monster of Archer’s Peak won’t be easy even for someone with Erica’s skills, but for the children of Archer’s Peak, she’s the only chance they’ve got.
I fell in love with this series pretty much immediately because it’s right up my alley. I love monster hunting stories and Something Is Killing the Children hits the right balance between Supernatural (minus the brothers), Umbrella Academy and Buffy. Erica is the right blend of kickass with some serious issues and mysterious abilities that they don’t bother to reveal much about during the course of the first volume. The pace of the reveals is slow, highlighting the tension in the town and in the forces driving Erica and the sudden gory bloodbaths when the monster appears contribute to the feeling. The first volume ends with a solid hook for the next one and I certainly feel compelled to devour the rest of the issues available. Overall, I loved the first volume and it’s definitely one I’d recommend if you’re into the monster hunting theme and like your horror to be a little more Stephen King-esque with the growing dread and horror but a minimum of answers at the beginning.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with both of my choices for this week. Something Is Killing the Children was more of a straight monster hunting story which I deeply love but it was interesting to see Bitter Root take social issues and give them a supernatural twist (reminded me a bit of Get Out and Lovecraft Country in that way). Depending on what side of monster hunting stories appeals to you, let me know what you think of them if you pick them up! Next week I’ll be looking at an old Halloween favorite: vampires!