Poverty, Unemployment, Brutality… And Vampires: Killadelphia #1

by Brendan M. Allen
“Sins of the Father,” Part One. When a small-town beat cop comes home to bury his murdered father—the revered Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr.—he begins to unravel a mystery that leads him down a path of horrors that will shake his beliefs to their core.
The city that was once the symbol of liberty and freedom has fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality… and vampires. Welcome to Killadelphia.

Jim Sangster Jr. has a pretty rotten history with his estranged father. When Jim returns to his native Philadelphia to bury the old man in Killadelphia #1, he discovers Senior’s journal. Against his better judgment, he starts to read, and realizes there’s more to his pop’s demise than meets the eye.

An unusual number of missing persons, multiple homicides, and mysteriously exsanguinated corpses all led the elder Sangster to believe something was amiss. He was right, and getting too close probably cost him his life.

There’s a lot to unpack in this series opener, but Rodney Barnes does an amazing job layering multiple timelines and perspectives. Junior displays all the internal conflict you would expect from a grown victim of childhood abuse. Grew up hating pops, but went into the same line of work. Still feels a need to compete with the old man, posthumously at this point. Crack the case. Prove he’s got a little something more in the tank than Dad.

Art by Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT has a rough, dark quality that fits both the noir and horror genres. Alexander’s linework has a quality that reminds me of Aaron Campell’s work on Infidel. Almost photo-real in places, then distorted and surreal. It’s a very creepy overall effect. 

I do have just a couple issues with Marshall Dillon’s lettering on this chapter. The word balloons have tiny little black single line tails with a white drop shadow. I suspect the drop shadow was added to help with the problem I was experiencing, which is that the tails get lost against the black in the art. There’s also a cursive font that gets used for diary/journal entries that is way too  uniform for a “hand-written” type font.

Killadelphia is off to a very strong start. It’s too easy to get sucked into the twisted family drama and the detective tropes, and then suddenly you’re reminded this thing was billed as urban horror. That’s about as high praise as I can give. There are actual, honest-to-god jump scares and pops in this book.
Killadelphia #1, Image Comics, releases 27 November 2019. Written by Rodney Barnes, art by Jason Shawn Alexander, color by Luis NCT, letters by Marshall Dillon, edited by Greg Tumbarello, publishing coordinator Shannon Bailey, logo and design by Brent Ashe, main cover by Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT, Black Friday cover by Francesco Mattina, LCSD cover by Jason Shawn Alexander.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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