We return to the world of Killadelphia with the second issue. The issue continues the “Sins of the Father” arc, with a story titled “Death, My Sweet Savior.” The introduction of the series proved outstanding, but the second issue can be the hardest one of all to get right. So are writer Rodney Barnes, illustrator Jason Shawn Alexander, and colorist Luis Nct up to the task?
The pacing of Killadelphia really accelerates with this second issue. For the most part, this works. Story threads are quickly established and many players are introduced. It’s not all that tough to track, really. My concern is that sometimes the pacing feels a bit too rapid here. That is more a problem with the comic book medium, however. While I would appreciate a slow-burn issue of the Sangsters coming to terms with the fact that James Sr. is a vampire, we just do not have that sort of time in comics. So we are quickly brought up to speed and the status quo of having a vampire dad on the case.
Again, despite my misgivings on pacing, it works. I’m not going to hold anything against Rodney Barnes because he is tailoring the story to the necessary expectations of a comic book audience. Though, would totally love to see an extended edition of Killadelphia when it is collected. Issue two has to do a lot of heavy lifting, and it is remarkable just how deftly this is handled.
I still wish some of this material had some room to breathe, though.
An Expanding Cast
What I enjoyed most about this second installment is getting to know some of our vampiric players: Tevin, Brittany, John, and James Sr. Tevin serves as the heart of the issue. If James Jr serves as our anchor in the human world, then Tevin is quickly established as our anchor in the vampire world. Tevin’s sequences that open and close the issue establish emotional stakes and paint him as just different enough from most of the other vampires present.
Brittany is the jaded vampire child who is cruel, angry, and vengeful. I am reminded of Lestat’s “daughter” Claudia from Interview with a Vampire. When I say that Brittany is a character I have seen before, that is not to belittle what Barnes is going for. Quite the opposite. Brittany is doing necessary work to muddy the waters and make the vampiric perspective one of pragmatic, community action. Brittany is the awakened girl doing what needs to be done.
Ultimately, perhaps the biggest theme I am picking up here is the pull of family across human and vampire lines, and I really like that. We have that with the vampiric John Adams, as the progenitor of the vampiric band, and James Sr, as our hybrid. This theme is likely to develop in a big way.
Jason Shawn Alexander’s art continues to shine in this issue. There is a continually wonderful interplay in the composition using light and shadow. Sometimes with heavily shadowed panels and forms, there is a risk of actions being unclear, but that is not the case here. Tevin’s “floating,” for example, is given a panel of emphasis to set up the floating, sure. But what is most important is that Alexander does a good job, in a heavily shadowed panel, showing Tevin’s feet are several inches off the ground.
The inking continues to be a strong point as well. The book continues to display a necessary grittiness that fits the subject matter, and I began to take notice of forms breaking and dissolving throughout the issue. James Jr’s conversation in the morgue with Jose, for example, features a panel with James’s head sort of dissolving into the background, and Jose being scratched over with white. Other panels feature the usage of screen toning, or characters fading off into messy scratches of ink. The book has a texture to it which proves fascinating. Luis Nct, again, does strong work with the coloring. I am really enjoying the usage of shades of red in the vampiric moments.
One element that I am enjoying about Alexander’s art is that I can catch glimpses of certain people as models for characters. That’s not a bad thing, more of a nice easter egg. I’m not entirely confident in all my observations. But I am confident enough to suggest that actor Phil Morris served as a model for James Sr. It peeks through pretty often and is a pretty great job of “casting” in the comic. I’ll try my best to see who else I see. Though maybe we could just ask the creative team in the future?
The second issue of a new series is often the most challenging one to make work. The first issue has to hook a reader, which is easy enough. But the second issue has to convince the reader that the initial hook is not just a fluke or gimmick. Situations need to immediately complicated while also establishing a sort of baseline for the series. Killadelphia #2 definitely meets that second issue challenge. (4.5 / 5)
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.