Will she make it? We already know what the answer is. We’ve already seen her present tense. The question is, what will she lose or gain by making it? What part of Erica does she leave behind to become Erica Slaughter?
James Tynion IV recently won an Eisner Awars for Best Writer, and Something Is Killing the Children – the story of monster fighter Erica Slaughter – is part of the reason why. I’d say a large part. Tynion, along with Werther Dell’edera, have created a badass and complex female character, and now they’re enriching the complex and unforgiving world that made Erica who she is today.
Trauma has become a frequently used term these days, especially in fiction and when talking about fiction. We use trauma as a way to identify with a character, to help us process past traumas we’ve experienced. At the same time, every trauma is unique (How could it not be?), as every person experiencing that trauma is also unique. All glass plates can break, but drop a thousand glass plates and tell me if even two of them break in exactly the same way.
Erica Slaughter’s trauma is her own. It is a trauma I can’t identify with on a personal level, but I do know about the temptation of pretending like a trauma didn’t happen. I know what that can do to a person. I also know what embracing a trauma and growing stronger by recognizing it can also feel like. Erica has a choice to make in this issue, and it’s Dell’edera and Muerto’s surreal and cerebral artwork that puts Erica in a dream state, creating an environment that – even though we may not personally relate to what she’s going through – allows us to feel it. Their imagery in this issue taps into a subconscious framework, allowing easier access to what Erica has and is going through. It allows it to be relatable, because in our dreams, all of our traumas take different shapes and forms.
So, while I may not know what the trauma of watching my mother die personally feels like, I know how god-awful scary those shadows are when they show up in my dream. And while Tynion’s writing here is exquisite (All of his books are freaking brilliant.), he is being well served by his team on this series.
This is a brilliant series, and that’s because it can take the specific and make it familiar.
Creative Team: James Tynion IV (writer), Werther Dell’edera (artist), Miquel Muerto (colors), Andworld Design (letters), Michelle Ankley (designer), Eric Harburn (editor), Assistant Editor (Gwen Waller)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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