PopCultHQ received a review copy of BLACK EYED KIDS Vol. 2 TPB from AfterShock Comics. Available April 19th, the creative team for this series features writing from Joe Pruett, artist Szymon Kudranski, colorist Guy Major, lettering by Marshall Dillon, and featuring cover art from Francesco Francavilla.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review of the five issues
collected into the second volume trade paperback of BLACK EYED KIDS…
Art: Szymon Kudranski (co-creator)
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Francesco Francavilla
Available: April 19, 2017
The urban legend come to life. The Black-Eyed Children have announced their presence with horrific authority, leaving lives shattered and multiple bodies in their wake. Jim Loudin and his family, along with a local police officer and a mysterious stranger, seemingly with past ties to these devil children, fight not only for their own lives, but for potentially mankind’s very existence.
Collecting issues 6-10 of the critically-acclaimed series, and the original short story from the AFTERSHOCK GENESIS one-shot. Written by Eisner winner Joe Pruett and illustrated by Szymon Kudranski.
What happened to these kids and how do you stop them?! Spray them with bullets? Not happening. Gunshots merely slow them down. Take a knife and Swiss cheese the creepy little bastards? Good luck with that.
These kids, and the boy who would be king, are making deals with the adults, but are they getting played? The ebony-eyed youngsters with above-average intelligence seem to be using them as puppets in their game (possibly for their amusement?). Their sardonic remarks, their condescending nature, and referring to the adults as “cows” establishes a superiority over the non-infected.
Gus, who lost his daughter 20 years ago after turning at the hands of these “kids,” is reliving the nightmare by seeing her as she was two decades prior. As much as he recognizes the threat these children are, he can’t help but hope there’s a chance to save his little girl. Any parent would. But to what extent? So much as willing to cut a deal with the Boy King himself? If so, what does he need to do in return? He’s now found himself with Meredith and the two are simply trying to survive. Things are a bit rocky with Lara, Jim, and his daughter Riley, but they seem to be uniting for a common good…to save Jim’s son, Riley’s brother, Michael. Officer Jones has a nice storyline going too but I can’t really go into much, if any, detail without spoiling. It’s definitely a fun story to watch unfold by itself.
In this second volume, the pacing is as intense as it has been since page one, issue one. That’s one of the great selling points on this as a collected trade paperback is that it flows seamlessly as if written for one volume. The tempo doesn’t slow down, the tension has never been greater, and we’re having more of this eerie thrill-ride revealed and its grim.
BLACK EYED KIDS is the most chilling series I have ever read, in comic format or otherwise. Writer Joe Pruett continues to deliver an unprecedented fear factor that and captivating story that never lets up. To do this through ten issues (the number found within the two trades released, issue twelve is available 4/26) without any pause, any hesitation, to keep you tensed up and adrenaline racing from cover to cover is beyond remarkable.
What I also enjoy is that the adults aren’t depicted as idiots or inept, rather there’s true representation of each individual, given the circumstances. Pruett has made these individuals display a raw fear, concern, and bewilderment that you can honestly can’t help but sympathize with them. I also admire the fact that this is occurring in different parts of town, requiring cut-scenes to see how things are transpiring for others. Not just their safety or survival, but also their piecing things together trying to make sense of it all (while running for their lives). This is what top-level storytelling looks like, folks.
Szymon Kudranski has such a brilliant look for BLACK EYED KIDS. The main characters are instantly recognizable from one volume to the next. And as much as those creepy bastards freak me out, that in itself is the beauty of his art. Also something significant to point out is in his layouts. There are some sweet angles which make for great depth and adds splendidly with the tone of the book. I’ve seen Kudranski’s layouts and inks (prior to colors) and if you get a chance to see them, you’ll appreciate all the more the work he invests in this series. This title could easily have been a straight black-and-white comic book. If it had, it would most definitely blow The Walking Dead away. (watch this segue…)
As marvelous as Kudranski’s illustrations are on their own, it’s Guy Major’s colors that truly crank up the creepiness. It’s cold, it’s menacing, it’s brooding. Though the series itself is dark (in its theme and imagery), Major has a gift for not overdoing it, nor does he take away from Kudranski’s work. I think above everyone’s outstanding contributions to this series, it is Guy whose work best captures the feel you’ll experience while reading. He owns this title in a Major way (yeah, I went there).
Marshall Dillon’s lettering is most certainly an asset to the overall essence of BLACK EYED KIDS. Dillon’s work helps you sense the fear the adults are experiencing. It elevates the eerie demeanor of the Boy King and his followers. And what may get overlooked, but is extremely appreciated, is how he incorporates the dialog in the dark atmosphere of the series and how it blends so superbly with the art and story. There is nothing I would want to see changed, altered, or different that what Marshall has produced. Optimal lettering for this title!
I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize and give praise to cover artist Francesco Francavilla. I say “cover(s)” to encompass all the individual covers, as well as the one for this volume trade. The more you read BLACK EYED KIDS, the more you’ll find that the artist has established a defining and iconic look to the series. The emphasis on the orange hue on each issue’s cover is comparable to comics or films like 300 or Sin City. It’s that splash of intensity over the darker shades that accentuate the feel of the title perfectly. Keep ’em comin’, Francseco!
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
BLACK EYED KIDS is sublime in so many ways: a gripping and intelligently-paced narrative, well-thought out characters, intense artwork, a bitterness you can feel in every page. It’s haunting, it’s chilling, and is the hands-down champion of thrilling series available in 2017, even 2016 for that matter.
You can’t help but feel mesmerized by each panel, taking in each creator’s contribution. This series will connect with you on an emotional level like you’ve never experienced from a comic book, or quite possibly from other mediums. This is a fantastic series to read, recommend, and have in every bookcase. Comic book collector or not. It’s a literary and visual spectacle that needs to be experienced for yourself. BLACK EYED KIDS is beyond horror…it’s a psychological thriller you don’t want to end!
5 out of 5 Stars
BLACK EYED KIDS Vol. 2 TPB can be purchased now digitally at ComiXology
or in print format at your local comic shop and various online retailers April 19th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Joe Pruett
Artist – Szymon Kudranski
Colorist – Guy Major
Letterer – Marshall Dillon
Publisher – AfterShock Comics