Welcome back to Graphic Content. There was a mix-up in numbering last time, but I can assure you that this is #5. But hey, enough about my failures. Let’s talk comics, including the return of Killadelphia.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #7
Man, when Hellblazer goes dark, it goes dark. Issue #7, or “Britannia, Rule the Waves, Part One,” deals with nationalism, fishing, mermaids, and exploitation in a relationship. It’s all very good, plus we get a bit more of Old Man Constantine, who seems to be leaving a cheeky trail across the map of London in the shape of, what else? A dick.
Most of the issue’s narration comes from the unnamed mermaid character who recounts, fairly glowingly, about the plight and motivations of her fisherman boyfriend. It is not until that last third of the issue that we come to see the truth of the situation and that is when the real horror comes in. A mermaid killing people is creepy and all, but what happens to her is so much worse. Spurrier’s writing is solid, and perhaps some of the best of this run, particularly with how the story tackles generational differences and expectations as they relate to modern London and British identity. That and it will make you rethink sashimi.
Campbell’s art in this issue is probably the best meshing of his style with content yet. The dockside, the fish markets, it all is rendered quite well and Campbell’s heavily inked and scratchy style just screams “grime” in the best way possible, fitting the story.(5 / 5)
John Constantine: Hellblazer #7 was written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Aaron Campbell, and colored by Jordie Bellaire.
Issue #4, or “Young Team,” follows a local group of Sinkhill kids who are on a mission to track down the van of clowns that is rumored to be snatching up kids in the area. We also see Mr. Dig again, the fox-mask-wearing vigilante of Sinkhill. As a series, Sink is no stranger to violence, but this could be the most shocking issue in the run with a prolonged and bloody sequence of strangulation and beating, all involving children. Sink doesn’t necessarily go to the child’s death well it could have possibly gone (a rare bit of restraint in a series of excess) but it doesn’t exactly end entirely positively, either. Lives are irreversibly shattered and the roaming gang of clowns is still out there, based on the ending. Regardless, it was a fun story that while still anthologized does carry some connections to other stories. It’s been an interesting approach so far.
The art is pretty solid, with a particular highlight being a Lovecraftian dream sequence involving a clown construct. In the bloodiest sequence of the story, however, things get a little muddled, and the presence of gobs of blood on all parties obscure forms and makes everything a bloody red lump for several panels. There may be such a thing as too much blood and Sink got pretty close to that here.(4 / 5)
Sink #4 was written by John Lees and illustrated and colored by Alex Cormack.
Killadelphia is back with a new story arc. This one, entitled “Burn Baby Burn” opens with issue #7, titled “Part 1, Jupiter Rising.” This storyline picks up after the near-apocalyptic events of the previous arc and we find ourselves in a new normal: vampires exist in Philadelphia. This is such a game-changer for the city that James Sangster Jr. now operates as an expect who must look at crime scenes and determine if there is vampiric activity. It is a fantastic note that makes the world really evolve in the comic and just part of why this series has been so successful.
This story revolves around Abigail Adams, newly ascendant as the leader of vampires since the death of John, who recounts a story about a slave named Jupiter. Jupiter is “freed” by Abigail back in the past and has been waiting on the sidelines until, as part of her own campaign of terror, he is unleashed on Philadelphia. It’s all very brutal and Jupiter’s look and “mask” is very striking.
This issue also addresses, to a degree, one of my concerns about the series. I did not really get behind to romance between James and ??? as it felt sudden, but this is addressed to a degree with a discussion between the two about the nature of their relationship. Suddenly it all feels a lot more grounded. I understand the irony of this given this is a comic about a vampiric invasion in the United States, but the romance as initially presented struck me as sloppy and impulsive. it turns out that this was the case for the characters and the reality of this, and how to navigate it, suddenly makes it a lot more tolerable for me.
The series also introduces a new backup feature named “Elysium Gardens,” set during the Watts Uprising and features a werewolf. This feature is, of course, drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander who is the regular artist of Killadelphia. However, this backup is presented in very stark black and white. It makes you wonder how Killadelphia would look in grayscale, and I do wonder if there are any plans to release the first volume in such a manner. It all evokes work from Creepy and other such horror magazines.(4.5 / 5)
Killadelphia #7 was written by Rodney Barnes, illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander, and colored by Luis Nct.
I am personally aiming to do more than one of these columns a month, but I could use some comics to read. Please feel free to send me suggestions of horror and horror-adjacent series you think I should cover.
See you next time.