BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@ The Comic Blog
Something Is Killing the Children’s Netflix series is on the way, and it’s sounded the alarm for the eight printings and myriad of variant covers for SIKTC #1, but it would behoove you to dig deeper and watch the other early issues.
FROM ZERO TO 100 MPH
For two years now, Something Is Killing the Children has been a behemoth of the secondary market. Before the first issue reached local comic shops, the hype began that this was in line for the live-action treatment. It was promoted from being a limited series to ongoing ahead of the SIKTC #1’s launch because of the massive interest from preorders. Investors were all over the first printing like sharks in a feeding frenzy, and readers were drawn into the horror-mystery from the start.
To that point, James Tynion IV had made his name at DC Comics with his Batman run. Bat-fans were generally happy with Tynion’s writing, but it didn’t exactly put his name on the map. That came with SIKTC. Following that success, he established himself as the premiere name in horror comics with The Department of Truth for Image Comics and The Nice House on the Lake under DC’s Black Label imprint.
At this point, virtually everything Tynion writes has investors and speculators drooling. His style is cinematic, which naturally lends itself to film and television. He will get his first taste of the Hollywood lights when SIKTC premieres on Netflix as a live-action series. That news has spurred the market for the series' more collectible issues.
In this era of collecting, many buyers put their comics in storage or send it for grading without so much as opening the front cover. Tynion is such an outstanding writer that you are doing yourself a disservice by not at least buying a digital copy to page through.
WHAT IS IT?
The story is that Erica Slaughter is a monster hunter trained by an extensive lineage of monster hunters. She arrives in the small town of Archer’s Peak, where the children are going missing. (Of course with a title like Something Is Killing the Children, it would be more of a shock if kids weren’t going missing.) Most of the kids disappear without a trace, but the handful of survivors claim to have been attacked by mysterious creatures. While the townspeople are looking for a murderer, Erica arrives and claims she can see the monsters the children described. Not everyone is convinced, and some point the finger toward her.
Last year, the title was so popular that a spinoff was published, House of Slaughter. Taking place adjacent to SIKTC, this story focuses on the group that trained Erica, namely her handler from SIKTC, Aaron Slaughter.
THE OTHER KEYS
There are so many comic adaptations in the works that it is hard to keep pace with them all. That is especially true for collectors on the hunt for the next mega key. The lure of mainstream fame can skyrocket prices for those character firsts, and it can leave you in the cold if you were slow to react. For SIKTC #1, you need deep pockets to get into the game now at the current inflated prices. Although they live in the shadows of that massive first comic, the other early keys are proving to be worth a second look.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #1 FIRST PRINT
It’s less than three years old, but SIKTC #1 has already reached absurd prices. The first print, originally published in September 2019, spawned a whopping eight printings. By and large, all eight of those have quickly become increasingly valuable. Whether it’s the second print all the way down to the eighth, any of the SIKTC #1s are worth your investment dollars, and that is a testament to the popularity of this series. Still, none of them compare with that first print.
Not only did SIKTC #1 get eight print runs, but the original issue also had eight different covers. The main collecting target remains the standard edition, and the graded 9.8 sold 397 times last year for an average of $872. Before that, it had an FMV of $260, a bargain compared to 2021’s values. The more celebrity Tynion achieves, the higher the prices go for the SIKTC #1. For the past 90 days, the FMV has risen to $889.
Although values are still on the move, they did settle into the $700-$800 range since February. Up to the end of January, that same 9.8 routinely fetched anywhere from $900+ and one sold for as much as $1,096 on January 15.
For those intent on owning a first print SIKTC #1 but not willing to part with upwards of $1k, consider the Jae Lee variant edition. Out of all the different covers, this is by far the cheapest. While the other editions are anywhere from $300 for the unlocked variant to $1,200 for the New York Comic Con exclusive, the original variant from Boom! Studios sold for $249 in the past week. By no means is that a dollar-bin find, but it is much more budget friendly than practically everything else from the first printing.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #2
When it comes to SIKTC, all anyone talks about is the mythical first issue. For all the above mentioned reasons, that is understandable. With the title’s growing popularity and Hollywood potential, it is easy to see why owning that introductory issue could pay dividends later. What no one talks about are the series’ other early issues. These have investment potential as well, but they are a fraction of the cost, even in the near-mint range.
Obviously, the next best issue to own is SIKTC #2. Graded at a 9.8, these sell well above the cover price, but for about $200-$300 on average, it won’t put nearly the same dent in your wallet as those first prints. In fact, the last time one sold online, it brought $166 on March 2.
There are a couple of first appearances in this issue that could make it to the Netflix series. There’s Octo, the monster that inhabits the octopus stuffed animal. There’s also Tommy Mahoney. His sister was one of the monsters’ victims, though he suspects Erica is the actual murderer. Both Octo and Tommy are likely for the live-action show, and that could impact this issue’s prices in the future.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #3
The third issue of SIKTC also contains a minor first appearance. This time around, the small town sheriff (because don’t all horror stories need a small town sheriff who’s trying to piece together the mystery but getting in the hero’s way?), Joe Cavanaugh, debuts in this issue. There is no doubt that he will find his way into the Netflix series in some capacity. I don’t expect his first appearance to suddenly go through the roof once he makes his entrance, but it doesn’t hurt to watch this one, especially at the current prices.
Again, almost all the early SIKTC issues are good investments. As the series continues to build a larger following, they will only get more expensive. If you happen to have gotten them on the ground level, you will enjoy today’s news. SIKTC #3, graded at a 9.8, crosses the $200 threshold. In the past month, it’s sold for as much as $288 on February 21. There’s also an unlocked retailer edition that sells for about $200.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #4
Of all the first five issues of SIKTC, this one appears to fall the furthest below the collecting radar. The main selling point is the first appearance of Aaron Slaughter. He is only seen in a cameo, but that still makes this issue his debut.
For those following the spinoff series, House of Slaughter, you will recognize his name. Aaron is the star of HOS, though he appeared in SIKTC as Erica’s monster-hunting handler and rival. There’s a bigger picture to keep in mind here. Although hardly anyone is talking about it, HOS has live-action appeal. It hinges on the success of SIKTC on Netflix, but if that show is a hit, then the streaming giant may look to bring to life Aaron’s story, which is told throughout HOS. That would immediately add value to his cameo first in SIKTC #4.
Last year, the 9.8 standard edition averaged nearly $250. In mid-February, it was still selling for $200-$250, but recent weeks have seen those figures fall closer to the $150-$200 range. There’s also an unlocked retailer variant for this issue, and it last sold for $175 on February 24.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #5
Again, you get more first appearances in this issue, which makes it a key worthy of your wish lists. Cecilia Slaughter and Old Dragon, who leads the Order of Saint George, make their cameo firsts in SIKTC #5.
This issue is proving to be the second-most valuable key behind SIKTC #1. Both characters should be important to the Netflix series, which could spawn the House of Slaughter spinoff. In that case, this comic will balloon even further.
As it stands, the 9.8s have actually taken a slight dip as of late, but that only makes it a good time to invest. Don’t confuse prices being down with being in the basement. So far this year, the standard edition has sold for as high as $566, and it has remained in $350-$400 territory. Compare that with last year’s FMV of $499, and anything below $400 is a deal.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #6
There will forever and always be a debate among collectors: which is the real first, the cameo appearance or the full appearance? The grading companies typically differentiate between the two, and it has sparked many keyboard battles. Ignoring any arguments about popularity or fair market values, the cameo first is still the first appearance, no question. Why those tend to fall short of the full first appearances in terms of price tags is an entirely different issue altogether.
In Aaron’s case, his full first appearance runs about the same price as his cameo. Don’t forget that Cecilia makes her full first in this issue as well, and SIKTC #6 is a far cry from SIKTC #5’s values. A 9.8 SIKTC #6 has a 90-day FMV of $210, which is down slightly from 2021’s average of $240. With the potential for an Aaron origin story being told in a live-action House of Slaughter, that could prove to be a bargain price for a would-be major key.
THE PROMISE OF MAINSTREAM FAME
The mystique of owning the very first issue of anything is always the top prize in comic collecting. The problem is that there are so many Hollywood adaptations, be it from the giants of Marvel and DC to the smaller independent publishers. Keeping up with all the key issues that are tied to movies and streaming is a never-ending chase, and owning them all is a full-time job. That’s why it pays to look for alternatives. Even better is getting that elusive key when it is selling at cover price. With the promise of mainstream attention for SIKTC, it should put a bigger spotlight on the newer issues, particularly those with first appearances. The best part is that you can own them for cheap if you’re first in line.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.