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Something Is Killing the Children May Be Netflix’s Next Stranger Things

Itwas July 15, 2016, when an unprecedented supernatural horror series premiered for Netflix subscribers everywhere. Created by the Duffer brothers, a relatively unknown pair at the time, the show combined a group of Goonies-style scrappy, likable kids, a reluctant young heroine with incredible powers, and an otherworldly, monstrous threat all wrapped up in a nice package of ‘80s timeline nostalgia.

Stranger Things entranced audiences, quickly becoming one of the streaming service’s most popular original shows, and it has stayed so until this very day.

Cut to 2023, and Netflix viewers are eagerly anticipating the release of Stranger Things’ fifth and final season. While there have been plenty of wildly successful, original shows released by the streamer in the seven years  since Stranger Things was birthed, few, if any, have managed to capture the imagination and adulation of Netflix subscribers in the same way. The series has a legion of fans who wholeheartedly believe it to be the best series ever created. However, there’s a new kid coming to the block that may just be able to fill the hole that will be left by Stranger Things’ impending absence.  Its name is Something Is Killing the Children.

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Netflix’s Something Is Killing the Children will be an adaptation of a hugely successful comic book series written by James Tynion IV of Batman and Detective Comics fame and illustrated by Italian artist Werther Dell’ Edera. A winner of multiple Eisner Awards, the series is based on the premise that the things that go bump in the night are not just the fuel of children’s nightmares, but real, tangible beasts born of those fears. Like the Upside Down in Stranger Things, there is a whole unseen world of horrors right underneath the noses of civilization. The monsters hunt and devour kids en masse (as well as any adults that get in their way). The real rub, though, is that only children can see them, so when young bodies start piling up, the local authorities invariably engage in a manhunt instead of a monster hunt.

The Order Of Saint George: Slaying Dragons and Worse Things. Much Worse.

This is where the Order of St. George comes into play, the name stemming from the ancient legend of St. George slaying a dragon that had terrorized village–a legend that shows up in scores of nations and cultures. The Order has been around for centuries and has bases of operation across the globe. Their adult members can not only see monsters but are specially trained to kill them. Their initiates are children who undergo special ceremonies in which a monster is bound to a personal object (usually a doll or stuffed animal) and the child must mentally defeat the beast or be killed in the process. This is reminiscent of another Netflix adaptation, The Witcher, in which monster hunters are created through harsh and brutal means that many don’t survive.

Afterward, the object becomes the recruit’s constant companion – a totem that can be as much of a help to the hunter as a deadly hindrance, depending on its mood and whims. Field training involves hunting monsters in the woods, and many never make it back.

If it all sounds morally questionable, that’s what Tynion’s aiming for. And the gray areas get even grayer. The Order will literally do anything to keep the existence of these creatures a secret from the general public, even if it means killing an entire town of witnesses along with the beasts that tormented them.

Which brings us to Erica Slaughter, one of the most engaging characters to emerge from a comic series in years.

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Something is Killing the Children Cover Art, BOOM! Entertainment, Inc

The House of Slaughter

Something Is Killing the Children focuses specifically on the North American chapter of the Order, dubbed the House of Slaughter, and one member in particular: Erica Slaughter. Members take on the surname of their Houses, but they don’t always take on their moral flexibility, as is the case with Erica. She values human life above the protection of the Order’s secrets and goes to great lengths to save both children and adults (even if they can’t see the monsters, adults can see a child being lifted into the air and torn to shreds by an invisible force) and keep them alive despite what they may have witnessed. As Erica explains in Something Is Killing the Children Volume 6, Chapter 30, “They care more about keeping the secret than they care about people. And I couldn’t live like that any longer.”

Erica, although a bit older than Stranger Things’ Eleven, has much in common with the character. She suffered a traumatic childhood in which she lost both parents, she was raised and trained to be a weapon against the supernatural, and she uses her gifts to not only fight the forces of evil but to fight against the very system that created her. As a Black Mask of the Order – one of the most formidable types of hunters, as they work alone – Erica is provided with ample opportunity to go against her House’s practices due to her solitude in the field, but only to a point. Eventually, her refusal to execute witnesses does come to the attention of her superiors, and it is then that the story really amps up the action, with Erica having to deal with monsters both literal and human.

There are plenty of other colorful characters in Something Is Killing the Children, including Jessica, Erica’s supportive recruiter, the lovable Big Gary, a Blue Mask who conducts all the rituals, and Cecilia, a White Mask (those who hunt in packs) who is one the biggest thorns in Erica’s side due to her rigid compliance with the Order’s rules. Then, of course, there’s Octo, Erica’s stuffed octopus totem whose influence is as likely to save her as to kill her.

An oscuratype threatening a child in Something is Killing the Children #9. Boom! Studios Inc

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Like Stranger Things, with its pantheon of Dungeons & Dragons-inspired creatures, the monsters of Something Is Killing the Children come in different flavors. There are the shadowy, multi-legged oscuratypes, the humanoid duplicitypes with torsos comprised of huge mouths full of razor-sharp teeth, real-deal dragons, and undoubtedly, many more. With all these terrifying threats, deep and interesting lore, a rebellious, charismatic protagonist at the wheel, and a cast of interesting side characters and antagonists, Something Is Killing the Children has everything needed to garner the following of as many fans as Stranger Things has.

Scene from Something is Killing the Children, BOOM! Entertainment, Inc

So, Is There a Problem Bringing SIKTC to the Screen? That Might Depend. 

The only real problem standing in the way of success equal to that of Stranger Things is its somewhat more mature tone. While Stranger Things has certainly had its share of violence and gore (Who could forget Billy’s gruesome death at the tentacles of the Mind Flayer or the slaughter of all the children in Eleven’s scientific study group home?), the show has still managed to hang onto a TV-14 rating throughout its run. As such, many parents have felt comfortable allowing their kids to watch it.

The pages of Something Is Killing the Children are literally red with the blood of monstrous slayings, decapitations, and disembowelings, with children often the victims. As such, unless showrunners Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese (the brilliant minds behind the fantastic Netflix sci-fi shows Dark and 1899) decide to tone down the violence and bloodshed to avoid a TV-MA rating, it’s going to be tough to pull in the kinds of numbers Stranger Things has garnered. Which puts them in a spot: if they do make such a move there’s little doubt that fans of the comics will take unbridled exception, and some may even boycott the show. Still, the source material is so gripping, it will hopefully carry the project through its jump from comics to the screen. Something Is Killing the Children has all the makings of a hit blockbuster streaming series waiting to be binged.

All images from Something is Killing the Children Boom, Boom! Studios Inc

About the Author:

Jason Robbins is a features editor and writer, attorney, computer scientist, bio-exorcist and inventor of the piano key necktie.



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