SeeSaw returns with some help against the vampires, but can he also save Jimmy from his vampirism? Find out in Killadelphia #16 from Image Comics.

KILLADELPHIA #16

Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colorist: Luis NCT
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Editor: Greg Tumbarello
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 25, 2021

Previously in Killadelphia: The vampire Thomas Jefferson takes to the road with his family of zombies as he muses on America, what it began as, and what it has become. Seesaw, after bargaining with the Devil to bring John Adams back, turns to God, looking for answers particularly for why his people have been so hurt. This, in turn, leads him to speaking with other gods until he finally seeks out Anansi. Meanwhile, the Sangsters and John Adams hold off Abigail’s vampires and try to keep Jose safe while they wonder if Seesaw will return.

OLD ENEMIES AND OLD FRIENDS

Killadelphia #16 opens after Jefferson and Jupiter have met, and Jupiter killed his family. Jefferson asks him why, surprised that he wasn’t greeted with a more positive sentiment. Incredulous, Jupiter reminds him that he sold his entire family. Equally incredulous, if somewhat tone-deaf, Jefferson retorts that that was over two hundred years ago. This is one of the things that makes Killadelphia a fabulous book. Characters are formed by their lived experiences, and by virtue of being immortal, they have had a lot of time to see where things led. This encounter leads to a fight.

SeeSaw asks Anansi to come to Philadelphia with him. But why should he help with America, he asks. He has visited, for example, in 1915 when he watched “Birth of a Nation.” Why would SeeSaw want to help a country that couldn’t care less for him? SeeSaw has no illusions about what his mortal life would have been like. But now he has had some experiences, and somehow, he sees hope. Anansi agrees to help him.

They return to James Sangster’s apartment, and despite the heavy drama, there is some humor. Anansi admits to being confused. He is supposed to be blasting some vampires and helping SeeSaw’s friends…but everyone here is a vampire. SeeSaw points out who is who.

Jose, meanwhile, hiding in a closet, wonders if she will get out of this alive. She has not seen much hope in this fight, but we learn that she is pregnant with Jimmy’s child, and this gives her resolve.

Jupiter and Jefferson’s fight continues, but Jefferson apologizes for what he did. He admits to having been wrong to own slaves. Their discussion covers a lot of depth in just a few short panels. But ultimately, the two of them make up and Jupiter invites him back home. Is this a true alliance based on the friendship they both had when they were too young to realize their differences, or is one or the other cleverly hiding some treachery?

The vampires dispatched, Anansi talks with the Sangsters and their allies. I enjoyed that James, the consummate skeptic, dares to be skeptical of a god. But Anansi is trying to figure out why, with nearly all of them being vampires, Jimmy is the only one they want back as human. Adams admits to having been dead far longer than he was ever alive. James has made peace with his life but would like his son to have his life in front of him. Jimmy, who has been wavering all along, cannot articulate anything. Jose steps up to say he needs to live to be the father of their child, which is news to Jimmy.

WHERE PAST AND FUTURE INTERSECT

The art of Killadelphia #16 is powerful, emotionally reaching deeply into people’s souls and showing us their doubts and weaknesses. No such weakness for Anansi, though. We’ve seen how the vampires are portrayed; now it is time to see more of a god. He has taken on human form, rather than the spider we saw last issue, which does make connecting with him easier. Even in human form, he likes to perch in his tree. His background is often suffused with light, not just brightness, but sometimes with a taste of jungle within the light.

The grittiness continues in the art, and I do love it. The shadows are strong and the inking expressive. The use of color for contrast and/or light deftly draws our eyes around the page. Whether the main character in a sequence is in the foreground or the background, we can follow them. Whether they are at the heart of the action, or the action occurs around them, we never lose the sense of where we are. This gives the book as a whole a strong feeling of movement and of precious time passing which is yet another way to keep the tension high without using repetitive tropes.

BOTTOM LINE: A STUNNER OF AN ISSUE

Killadelphia #16 keeps us on our toes, taking an already complicated web of characters and twisting the power dynamic yet again in a way that makes me impatient for the next issue already. It is an incredibly complicated juggling act done impressively well.


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Killadelphia #16

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SeeSaw rejoins the Sangsters, and Thomas Jefferson faces off against Jupiter!

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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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