B.E.K. Black Eyed Kids #1

Writer: Joe Pruett
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Francesco Francavilla
Publisher: Aftershock

Reviewed by Nicole Bresner

STL000944Black Eyed Kids, the latest from Aftershock, promised to deliver some creepy goodness when I originally read the summary, but I’ve been disappointed before, so I went in with guarded expectations. The issue begins with the arrival of three mysterious boys to what seems to be a small rural town. It’s clear, however, that they are not there to visit grandma.

The figures are shadowed and silent, walking slowly through the winter streets at night and, to set an undeniably ominous tone from the start, a poor dog gets a shoe to the head on the first page. Almost immediately, one of the boys commits a heinous crime, followed by some very unusual behavior on his part that is sure to play into the story later. Meanwhile, a mom and dad are settling in to snuggle on the couch as their teenage daughter yells down the stairs that her brother, Micheal, is sleepwalking again. As the issue unfolds, the dark strangers prove to have a violent agenda that ultimately intertwines with Micheal and his family. The endgame of the deviant boys is not revealed, but there is something strange about their eyes…

While it’s not clear exactly where the story is headed, it certainly delivered on the creepiness scale and I’m eager to see what’s at the root of the bizarre events with which the book begins. The dialogue is realistic and I learned a new sound effect: SHHUUNK! I’m sure it’s been used in the past, but the reader isn’t shown what exactly is SHHUUNKING, and it’s quite eerie!  My only concern is that such a story can easily become trite and derivative. Demonic kids, murder-inducing infections, and science-experiments-gone-wrong have all been done, but the story is well-written and intriguing enough that I’m hoping for a creative explanation for the black eyed kids.

I’m very picky about comics, to my detriment at times, as I’m sure I miss some good ones. I gravitate towards comics that have non-traditional art styles, or at least an artistic leaning beyond the average superhero story. That’s not to say certain superhero comics -Elektra comes to mind- haven’t transcended the cookie-cutter art present in many books, or that a story can’t be good unless the art is exceptional. I am, however, very into the art, and was pleasantly surprised when I opened B.E.K. to see what was inside. The color palette is dark and cold, with a strong use of black and muted colors. The white of the snow, streetlights, and lamps serves to make the shadows and silhouettes more menacing, and creates an atmosphere so stark you expect to see your breath in the air as you’re reading. The panel angles are quite varied and interesting, and showcase the technical skills of the artist. Bottom line: a tone of bad-things-are-coming is well conveyed.

The Verdict:
Buy It! Black Eyed Kids
was a good read with good art and a premise that I’m interested in following. Fingers crossed that the issues to come deliver horror with the same suspense and attention to artistic detail as #1.


Nicole Bresner
Freelance painter, illustrator and comic book artist, and columns/reviews contributor to Rogues Portal. Adores all things dark, demonic and creepy. Also adores glitter. Reconcile THAT.

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