Review – Killadelphia #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artwork: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colours: Luis NCT
Release Date: 27th November 2019

When Jimmy Sangster, a small-town cop, goes home to bury his father he discovers a journal that will set him on a path towards pure evil. In a city once the symbol of liberty and freedom, Jimmy will have to navigate the corruption and violence that have taken hold of the city while also coming to terms with the reality of vampirism consuming the City of Brotherly Love.

I’m getting spoiled at the moment. There are a lot of new horror titles hitting the shelves at the moment, a lot of really good horror titles, and the first issue of Killadelphia leads me to believe that this is going to be yet another really good horror series. Somewhere between the gritty noir feel of an Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips story and the raw gritty horror of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night, Killadelphia grabbed me on page one and didn’t let go until long after I closed the final page.

The first issue runs two timelines together; the story of James Sangster Senior doggedly searching for answers to a string of missing people and the story of his son, burying the man that he has hated for most of his life, and discovering that his death was far from a simple case of murder. Both threads of the story intertwine throughout the issue, but the narrative flow never becomes confusing. I do think that the lettering on this issue really helped in terms of making it easy to work out who was speaking, and the switch between Sangster senior and Sangster junior.

For what is essentially a horror comic about vampires, there is a very grounded human feel to the story, and Jimmy’s search for the man his father really was is every bit as poignant and interesting as any of the other aspects of the story. I really hope he does get to discover what a bad-ass his dad really was, because James Sangster Snr. is most definitely that.

There is a great contradiction in the way this issue develops for me. First issues are about laying the ground work, introducing characters and developing narrative. They’re about expanding your knowledge of the world the creators are developing, but this issue is also about contraction. The Sangsters’ separate stories slowly converge, spiralling in to a single point, with a fantastic last page reveal that will have you reaching for your pre-order forms before you’ve put the book down.

The artwork by Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT fits in nicely with that Phillips/Templesmith vibe. It’s got the same dark, gritty feel to it that perfectly complements the dark, gritty narrative (I’ll try and not use the word gritty again, but no promise) So, the gritty… just kidding… the heavy pencil, and the slightly blurred effect to the artwork is one we’ve seen used very effectively before, and by God it works well here. The lighting and shadow effects the guys achieve with it really make you want to check every corner before moving forward. The characters we’re presented with are also tangible and believable; they’re not stylised or comic book ideals, they’re human and relatable, and this again helps to really draw you into the story.

Another detail I thought was interesting, and this may just be my imagination working overtime, but to me, Sangster Senior’s story seems to be shown as a slightly crisper, brighter world, compared to Junior’s world which is darker, more subdued, more shadowy and, yes, grittier.

Overall then, this is a tight, well-written, well-illustrated, dark, brooding, horror-thriller with a noir twist that you really don’t want to miss!

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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