Killadelphia #1 Review

by Jay Hill on November 27, 2019

Written by: Rodney Barnes
Art by: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colors by: Luis NCT
Lettered by: Marshall Dillon
Published by: Image Comics

In west Killadelphia born and raised… Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Killadelphia #1 delves you into the dark underbelly of the City of Brotherly Love. But this isn’t your average seedy detective story. As the horrors unfold, we learn that what lurks in the shadows is more supernatural than what appears on the surface.

The atmosphere that Killadelphia attempts is perfectly executed. Immediately a dark and gritty mood is established, but also a bleak realism. It invokes great HBO dramas, particularly The Wire, with its frank nature. The subtitle of this book “Sins of the Father” is a perfect summation of its themes. James Sangster Jr. returns to the city he was born (and raised) in for the burial of his father. From the first bit of narration, the tumultuous relationship between JJ and his father is explored. It is well developed and believable, and, to some, it may even be relatable. With a few subtle glimpses we get the picture of a man obsessed with his work, but with a troubled home life leading to a son that resents him but can’t help but follow in his steps. The moment when JJ, alone in his childhood home, sheds a single tear it resonates. Rodney Barnes is a skilled writer that not only knows the craft well but, more importantly, knows his story and its characters. He has steeped this tale in a dash of realism that makes the fantastical elements seem more tangible. When we get to the vampiric aspect of the story it doesn’t feel like that’s what the story is centered on but is a backdrop of supernatural suspense this tale will utilize. However, the back story given for their existence felt somewhat unnecessary. It involves U.S. President John Adams and his wife, but with a glimpse of another political narrative, it may have more grand effects than just a creative piece of lore.

Jason Shawn Alexander’s terrific art is paired with the story almost too well. The realism of the story is matched by an art style that breathes in and out of being photoreal. But just like the writing, the sense of realism includes an ethereal atmosphere that infuses the feeling of horror and the supernatural. It blends a grimy neo-noir cityscape with an old-world gothic flair. Luis NCT colors that art to add the warmth of life or to drain life from scenes to leave it feeling cold and dead (in a good way). The way some shots utilize a cadaverous pale palette is bone-chilling.

Killadelphia is sure to please fans of horror and suspense, but even if you don’t like those elements, in particular, it is sure to entertain you because the real draw is how well executed this comic is. Written with the nuance of a great novel and drawn with the creativity and precision of a true top-tier talent. This is the beginning of something special.

Our Score:


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