Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"You getting off here, hon?"
"Archer's Peak. You getting off?"
"Terrible about those children."
"I wish somebody would do something about it
Fortunately for the terrified residents of Archer's Peak, who have suffered the horrifying tragedy of nine dead children in just two weeks with more going missing every day, the puzzled police trying to pass it off to people as the attacks of a rabid bear, someone is about to do something about it
Meanwhile, here's the publisher to perturb you even further
"When the children of Archer's Peak begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. The few children that return alive have terrible stories - impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see.
Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done."
Indeed. Which actually makes this sound a tad one-dimensional when in fact it's anything but with the character of young James - who's about to insist with near-suicidal determination on becoming Erica's sidekick - very firmly and brilliantly established in three distinct scenes in ten of the opening fourteen pages.
Our scary story opens very late at night with three pages of James and his friends Noah, Karl and Robbie on a sleepover playing truth or dare and James spinning them all a spooky yarn about a nearby ravine. Which promptly induces them to go out for a midnight meander to check out his story. We then immediately cut to two pages of a totally distraught James at the police station recounting to the sympathetic officer just how he became separated from his mates and then heard them screaming their heads off. Well, screaming whilst they had their heads bitten off probably
Returning to school (after a wonderfully surreal four page interlude to introduce us to Erica) James immediately finds himself vilified by the local bully and promptly ends up in the very understanding principal's office who simply expresses to James his wish that James had punched the bully in the face. If only all headmasters were like that! Meanwhile all the locals are utterly baffled, horrified and struggling to make any sense of it all. If only someone were arriving on the next bus to Archer's Peak to do something about it
What follows is most definitely full of delightful terror but also beautifully bizarre black humour, including Erica irritably conversing about the monsters with her cuddy toy octopus, in what must surely be a nod to the possibly alien hand puppet in THE KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE. James seems to think it's just one of Erica's strange foibles, because let's face it, if you're a professional monster hunter you're bound to have the odd screw loose. But when the octopus starts talking to him, well, perhaps that's a sign that his sidekick related problems are about to start rapidly escalating
Excellent lean, pointed artwork, in fact slightly mean-looking art at times in an entirely appropriate way from Werther Dell'Edera, who looks like he has sharpened his line and tidied up slightly since taking over on the second volume of Brian Wood's brilliant BRIGGS LAND. He was really great there anyway but this has definitely taken it up a notch. Some highly varied textural shading work and colouring from Miquel Muerto too, combining the subtle and the striking to superb effect, which all serves to give this book a very distinct feel of its own indeed.
I'm intrigued to see what happens in volume two as I can't see this being a book that runs and runs given how quickly events seem to be unfolding
I mean, they're going to run out of kids shortly if they're not careful for starters! Which they probably are for the monsters, just a starter that is