The evocative title of James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera’s series indicates only part of what’s actually going on in the comic. Yes, something is killing the children in the small town of Archer’s Peak, but what that something actually is — and who is trying to stop the deaths — is not exactly what you’d expect. It’s next-gen “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Scream,” but creepier.
Netflix’s popular “Sweet Tooth” series revealed the kinds of comic book worlds beyond superheroes. Here are 10 comic books that aren’t superhero stories.
‘Something Is Killing the Children’
In the future imagined in Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s dystopian series, corporations rule the Earth. Under the guise of “families,” they’ve created something that’s part feudal rule, and part industrialization on a grand scale, and the Lazaruses — genetically modified soldiers — serve the interests of each of the 16 ruling families on the planet. The result reads like “Game of Thrones” meets “Blade Runner” and Occupy Wall Street.
‘Fran of the Floods’
Recently republished, Alan Davidson and Phil Gascoine’s “Fran of the Floods” is a surprisingly grim tale in the otherwise unthreatening “Jinty” UK comics. As if it wasn’t bad enough for poor teenage Fran to lose her home when a freak storm floods Britain, she also loses her family and friends while trying to find out if her sister has somehow survived the storms.
‘Lumber-janes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy’
Boom! Studios’ “Lumberjanes” — a series that defines the term “plucky” in how it values friendship and bravery in the face of adversity — is a must-read. Created by the team of Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen, the “Lumberjanes” are five teenagers staying at a summer camp where weird things happen regularly — not that anything can really challenge the bond of friendship between the five.
‘The Hard Tomorrow’
Eleanor Davis’ graphic novel about Hannah, a home-health worker, and her relationships with her husband and best friend, is bracing and breathtakingly kind. Set against the recent U.S. political unrest, this book asks difficult questions and doesn’t settle for easy answers; it’ll also win your heart through Hannah’s attempts to have a baby in an era when the future becomes increasingly difficult to imagine.
Created by Jack Kirby, the artist behind Captain America, X-Men Fantastic Four and most of Marvel’s most famous characters, this series starts from a very basic place: What if a kid was let loose in Planet of the Apes, but it’s not just apes that can talk, but all animals? The resulting series — a cult classic from the 1970s — is dazzling, hilarious, thrilling and utterly ridiculous.
‘Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heart-breaker’
The nostalgic pastime of role-playing games goes very, very wrong in this twist on the fantasy genre from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Stephanie Hans. Imagine “Tron,” but with Dungeons & Dragons, plus added horror tropes to keep the characters — and readers — off-balance.
‘Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites’
The neighborhood cats and dogs in Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s tale are the only thing standing between us and supernatural threats, whether it’s spooky magicians, scary zombies or just an outbreak of plague frogs. To make things more exciting, it manages to deal with the topic with no small amount of humor.
‘Y: The Last Man’
Writer Brian K. Vaughan’s collaboration with Pia Guerra hews most closely to “Sweet Tooth,” set after a mysterious pandemic that has destroyed males in every species. The series follows the two last males alive, a boy and his pet monkey, as they try and find out what happened and whether humanity can survive without men. Dig in now before watching the TV adaptation starring Diane Lane, Amber Tamblyn and Ben Schnetzer.
‘Sweet Tooth’ Compendium
For those familiar with the comic book series, the Netflix show was likely surprising; creator Jeff Lemire has spoken about how the two are almost entirely different takes on the same characters and concept. The comic book is more classically post-apocalyptic, with the pessimism and darkness that suggests, making it ideal for those who are fascinated by the hybrids and the world that led to them, but feel convinced that there’s more to the story than it appears — as well as those who want to know how protagonist Gus’ story ends.