Written by Rodney Barnes
Art by Jason Shawn Alexander
Published by Image Comics
“Killadelphia” is a term I’ve seen used in headlines in years past. It’s been used negatively to describe periods in which the city as struggled with homicides or violence.
As a Philadelphian, It usually has made me cringe.
But Rodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander really use the nickname effectively. The story’s premise is simple yet executed cleverly.
The plot. Jimmy Sangster returns home to bury his father, Philadelphia police officer James Sangster Sr. James Sr.was investigating mysterious disappearances when he is attacked by vampires and he himself is turned. Father and son team with medical examiner Jose Padilla to uncover a conspiracy of vampires, involving none other than an Undead President John Adams.
The urban monster story is always a fascinating tale. Sometimes it’s bad (Predator 2) sometimes it’s great (Candyman) The bad ones get caught up in caricaturing urban living. Killadelphia does not fall into that trap. The storytelling in this particular tale is taut and really grabs you.
If you’re a sucker for stories with fathers and sons resolving issues, this one has that too. The relationship between Sangster Senior and Junior is never candy coated. Even when they reach resolution, it manages to be touching without being saccharine.
Things are tied up but scars remain.
There’s a bit of a romance between two characters that feels really shoe horned in. The chemistry never feels true and it comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t take down the quality of the story but it does strike a wrong note.
I appreciate the work Jason Shawn Alexander puts into displaying Philadelphia. He is using reference points, setting scenes in recognizable land marks. Yet he brings a sense of darkness and ominousness to them.
The story has so many twists and turns that I would not want to spoil anything more than I may have already. I will say this story shows so much care and thought for every character. Every character has a motivation and intention. You’ll even have some sympathy for an Undead President.
The six issue collection has a great afterword by the author, Rodney Barnes. It’s worth buying the collected edition.
I am certain that with positive reviews from Jordan Peele and Chris Rock, at some point we will see an adaptation on either the small screen or in theatres. I hope it keeps its title, Killadelphia. It manages to brave and serves as a great reminder that the horror sci fi genre can tell all our stories.