Is former President John Adams setting himself up to be a Founding Father of a new America peopled by vampires? Can anyone stop him if he is? Find out in Killadelphia #3 from Image Comics!
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colorist: Luis N.C.T.
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Editor: Greg Tumbarello
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 29, 2020
Previously in Killadelphia: John Adams is a vampire and he’s been busy making more vampires. Or so says James Sangster Sr., who is now himself a vampire. Adams seems to be playing the long game, recruiting the best soldiers he’s been able to find over the years as his personal security force. James, as a new vampire, understands more of this. As a cop, he wants to protect people and stop whatever might be in the works. All this is going on in a city in turmoil as funding is cut for the poor, people are getting angry, and the media downplay their anger. But James, his son J.J., and Jose have some vampires in the morgue they need to kill.
THE DEATH OF IDEALISM
Killadelphia #3 is a horror book, but it is also political and very thoughtful. It explores John Adams’ origin as a vampire, as well as the founding of our country. It opens with Adams thinking about the naivety of the Founding Fathers, and how they created a system for the good of people like themselves. He’s had time to gain more perspective, or so he believes.
His background is interesting. He was George Washington’s vice president, and Washington was a tough act to follow. After his own Presidency, he retired as a farmer, but ended up going to the Caribbean. He and Abigail were taken to a village where they were made into vampires. He was also given a book, said to contain answers to some of the mysteries of human life. He has not been able to translate the book.
John and Abigail encouraged their children to enter politics. They made peace with their political rivals. And when the time seemed right, they faked their deaths and lived on. Always a strong woman, Abigail has also progressed and evolved over the years, which is fascinating.
In the present day, things are busy. That night, the dead in the morgue come to life and this time James, Jim, and Jose are there to kill the undead again. It’s violent work in close quarters. They get through that fight, but almost immediately after, J.J. starts sniping at his dad. This is a book that also explores several types of father-son relationships, but literal and figurative. James and J.J. are front and center, and they do not get along. Adams is a father figure among the vampires, but Tevin questions this. Adams claims to be building a better America, but Tevin sees him as building on the same foundation that has gotten us to where we are today.
James goes to one of the vampire nests, which draws him in. At one level, he feels like he belongs. On another level, he is still so much himself that he doesn’t want any part of that life. But the life he’s left behind has nothing for him now either.
BLOOD, SEX, AND DEATH
Killadelphia #3 opens with a panel of John Adams contemplating the Liberty Bell. The crack in the bell features prominently, and one wonders if he doesn’t see that as a metaphor for our country. There’s another series of panels of Adams that I love. He’s talking about the advances through history, focusing on war, capitalism, and methods the elite use to maintain control. The art shows him walking as though through time. His clothes change, matching the events shown in the background, and over two pages we come through two hundred years of history. How far – and how not far – we have come.
There are pages of vampire killing in this issue, and it looks hard and messy, neither heroic nor glorious. In this story, it was Abigail who turned to using sex to lure the elite to them, and there are plenty of panels tying sex to death. But the truly chilling panels of the vampires are the ones that show then en masse, waiting, hanging out (sometimes literally, from the ceiling, like bats), just being a huge presence biding their time. It’s horrifying.
BOTTOM LINE: A STRONG STORY GETTING STRONGER
Killadelphia #3 has an inexorable feel to it. In each issue, the threat keeps getting bigger, though it’s still poised on the brink of action. There’s a lot going on with all the characters too, which makes us care about them, building tension because this is a horror story, and we know things may not end well.
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Unrest in America as it may be on the brink of a Vampire Revolution.