Killadelphia #3 Review

by Jay Hill on January 30, 2020

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

Day and night, there is a war raging in the heart of Philadelphia. Vampires are beginning to drain life from the city and Philly may be only the beginning. The plan for a new nation is revealed as the vampires’ leader John Adams makes his motives clear in this issue of Killadelphia.

When it was explained, in the first issue, that the root of vampire activity in Philly was because of former-president John Adams, it seemed like an interesting but complicated way to explain the supernatural. With issue #2, it became clearer that this wasn’t just some throwaway idea to give more depth to the story, but that Adams had a much larger role to play. This issue punctuates that and gives us a view of the how and why of Adams’ agenda. The issue opens with a narration by the former president. Throughout the issue, the narration, Adams’ point of view, and uses of flashback scenes give us an origin of the character, answers regarding backstory, and informs us more of his motivations. If “John Adams is the main antagonist of this comic… and also a vampire” seemed like a lofty idea, this issue does well to paint that seemingly preposterous concept in a completely believable light. That is a credit to Rodney Barnes' writing which has kept the story feeling grounded no matter what elements it uses. I’ve likened it to an HBO drama before, but the sensibilities are very similar as is the quality. Along with Adams’ history, his current mission is made more explicit. The fact that he has so far been preying on the city's less privileged members is explained. And the road taken with Adams’ wife, Abigail, is not only interesting but is weaved well into the story to forward Adams’ masterplan.

Along with the Adams scenes in this issue, we see the end of the morgue assault. This scene brings in some of Jr. and Sr.’s rocky relationship. Their inability to act cohesively could get in between them trying to stop Adams’ plan which is something that affects more than just those two. And along with that conflict, Sr. is shown having an inner struggle that could further complicate things. Tevin appears and explains to some of Adams’ other disciples why he disagrees with Adams’ plan for the future. Since this issue explained more of what that plan was, it was easily understood what Tevin had against it. The role Tevin will play in this story is still unclear, but I’m interested in whatever he has planned. If he’s able to get more people on his side perhaps he could present a more formidable threat than the team of Jr., Sr., and Jose.

Jason Shawn Alexander's art hasn’t, and seems unlikely, to miss a beat. This issue brought some of the best shots of the series. The opening with Adams staring at the cracked Liberty Bell, then the second page’s full shot showing Adams clear as day as he walks through the night blended with the writing to help give an insight into his mind. That second page shot also featured great colors by Luis NCT; this was a highlight issue for the coloring as well. The morgue scene had some of the most dynamic action, the panels were set up great. And, the use of red in that scene added intensity. The flashback scenes were also interesting to see illustrated. The standout being the double-page of the un-aging Adams throughout the years with history unfolding around him. The scenes at Abigail’s club were also fun to look at (I liked her design), not because of the salacious setting, but because of the atmosphere it captured. The use of color was also great in that scene. And, the smoke in the end scene was done well. Just like the writing, the grounded nature of the art carries this story. No matter how bizarre or crazy the visuals get, the way they’re executed keeps everything feeling realistic. That meshing of natural and supernatural has made this such a unique work.

This story is handled so well and this issue continued to answer questions, build the world, and do much more all while keeping it eye-gluingly entertaining. The storyline is a creative one that is weaving its plot, tone, themes, and all other elements beautifully. Not a second of this book isn’t engrossing and the current “endgame” is unpredictable. This book is an example of how comics, like any medium, can tell wholly original stories that bend and blend genre. And, added to the amazing story is creative art by a truly talented individual making this a comic of the likes which you’ve never read or seen.

Our Score:


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