"Black-Eyed Kids: Volume 2" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by AfterShock Comics
Originally published as Black-Eyed Kids #6 - #10
Written by Joe Pruett
Illustrated by Szymon Kudranski
Colored by Guy Major
2017, 129 Pages
Trade paperback released on April 19th, 2017
The reign of the Black-Eyed Children continues as a handful of people with some sort of connection to these demon spawn struggle to survive. Guns and knives have no effect against them. Their true intentions are not yet known, but it's clear that no good can come from their actions. Some of the kids are related to their would-be victims, which adds another psychological level to the terror.
That is what really hits home for Black Eyed Kids. It's one thing to have creepy kids as the villain, but we've seen that before with things like Children of the Corn. The fact that these kids and their dark, vacant eyes, devoid of emotion, are now stalking parents and siblings makes for some very tense scenes.
Just the appearance of one of the children is enough to send shivers down your spine. The one-two punch of Szymon Kudranski's artwork with Guy Major's colors creates an eerie feeling whenever one shows up. If you were to run into one on the street, you'd carefully back away without ever taking your eye off of them. It's amazing how much creepier these kids get just by coloring their eyes completely black.
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My main criticism with the first volume was the slow character development. That is mostly made up for in this trade paperback, as we get some background info on some of the additional characters. The frustrating part now is that they don't seem to connect at all. You have Jim and his daughter, on the run with his girlfriend and a strange man named Gus. Then there's also a disgraced cop and a reporter. They all have some sort of link to the Black-Eyed Children, however they're somewhat separated. This means the comic frequently jumps from one perspective to another, focusing more on action than anything else.
That's not to say the story isn't interesting. Writer Joe Pruett keeps the tension high as these people literally fight for their lives. They don't get much time to catch their breath. The kids are this ever-present threat that seems unstoppable. Despite the odds, they're fighting back. It's heart-wrenching to think of what Jim must be going through when he sees his own son in their midst, especially after the boy killed his own mother.
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Major's colors really set the mood for the entire book. The darkness permeates through every single panel. In the event that the scene takes place in a lit area, it almost as if the light is struggling to shine through. The darkness is just so omnipresent and encroaching on everything around it. Shadow plays such an important role in this comic.
It should also be noted that Francesco Francavilla created some unbelievably creepy covers for this series. They're inserted as chapter breaks and they are something to see. It's safe to say that any comic that Francavilla provides a cover for is worth reading.
Black Eyed Kids further expands on this urban legend at a breakneck pace. The character development is still a little slow, but it seems like that's coming together a bit more as we learn more about these individuals and how they're linked to the children. It feels like an extended horror movie where the characters are bouncing from one killer to the next, fleeing for their lives at every turn.