House of Slaughter: Vol. 1 is a trade paperback that collects the first five issues of the series. It’s a prequel that peers into the background of Erica’s handler, Aaron Slaughter, and his time as a teenager training to become a monster hunter in the House of Slaughter (The house and the series title share the same name.); however, the arrival of a new boy creates complications for Aaron, more than just surviving the training he has to endure. Before long, he’s presented with a choice that can change the outcome of everyone’s future.
The expansion of the “Slaughterverse” (as Tynion IV and his team have affectionately called it) is a welcome one that expands an already expansive world. Told through a split narrative, the first story arc provides plenty of background and context for everything happening in Something Is Killing the Children; however, it doesn’t just relegate itself into a companion book to the flagship series, but rather a standalone story that focuses on the ruthlessness and humanity behind these monster hunters.
If you were to pinpoint what the story is about, it would be fair to say that it’s about the innate humanity inside us all. Aaron and Jace are two people who aren’t considered as part of the in-group in the Slaughter House. Together, they find a deep connection, one that permeates and reflects how the real world would often treat people that are deemed as "other." Having Aaron, a gay character of color, as the focal point of the series is fundamental to the idea of innate humanity. Aaron’s relationship with Jace, a southern man of color whose background seems all too familiar, has a way of focusing on how emotions aren’t a hindrance in the face of insurmountable odds.
In a world where the monsters are as terrifying as they are dangerous, emotion could seem, at times, to get in the way. And that’s kind of where the story shines the most: hunting monsters don’t have to turn you into a monster.
One thing that you won’t have to worry about with this trade paperback is the need to have read something previously. Oftentimes, with side stories or prequels like these, you kind of need to know the background of the main series, but House does a fantastic job of giving you everything you need to fully enjoy this series.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a comic book without the art, and every single choice made in the art direction works wonders for the series. The color palette and art style add to the haunting, foreboding atmosphere, almost like there is no happy ending to the story it’s telling. The characters themselves look fantastic, as well. It's obvious that great care has been taken in how every character of every background is depicted. In short, the characters look like people you can pass by on the street. As great as that is, it also adds a bit to the horror when you realize you can see how the monsters our characters hunt can look like in this world.
House of Slaughter: Vol. 1 collects its first five issues of this new addition to the Slaughterverse. With those issues, it proves that it’s more than just a stand-in or side story for Something Is Killing the Children; it’s a standalone story that represents the beginning of an ever-expanding universe. It doesn’t suffer from the need to have read the flagship title, but, more importantly, it tells a very human story with bittersweet undertones.
Creative Team: James Tynion IV (writer), Tate Brombal (writer), Werther Dell‘Edera (art), Chris Shehan (art), Miquel Muerto (color), Andworld Design (letters), Eric Harburn (editor), Ramiro Portnoy (assistant editor), Jonathan Manning (associate editor)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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