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Halloween Graphic Novel Triple Feature: ‘Killadelphia’, ‘Blood Stained Teeth’, and ‘Little Monsters’ (review)

In honor of Halloween, I offer you a trio of reviews from the fabulous world of vampires.

Who knew vampires could come in so many fascinating variations and varieties?

From the mean streets of Philadelphia to the exploits of a firstborn criminal-minded vampire intent on selling immortality to any mortal with enough coin.

Lastly, we find ourselves with a group of vampire children abandoned and alone somewhere after the end of the world.

 

Killadelphia: Deluxe Edition: Book One
Written by Rodney Barnes
Art by Jason Shawn Alexander
Published by Image Comics

 

During the height of the pandemic, I had the pleasure of hosting and being featured on a panel with the great Rodney Barnes.

Barnes, the Eisner Award, nominated Barnes is best to know for his work on The Boondocks, HBO’s Winning Time, Marvel Runaways, and Starz American Gods.

I knew very little about Barnes and his other work at the time.

After the panel, my corporate champion thanked me for finding Barnes and couldn’t wait to dive into the world of Killadelphia.

Killadelphia: Deluxe Edition: Book One collects issues 1–12 of the acclaimed series.

When a small-town beat cop James Sangster Jr. comes home to bury his murdered father, the revered Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr., he begins to unravel a mystery that leads him down a path of horrors that will shake his beliefs to their core.

Once the symbol of liberty and freedom, the city has fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality… and vampires.

Clocking in at over 360 pages, Killadelphia is a joy to read, just in time for Halloween.

Rodney Barnes is one of the greatest voices in comics today.

His plotting and pacing are brilliant, and I found that, except for the character of Abigail Adams, I could not predict where the story was going. Abigail, unfortunately, is a one-note femme-fatale. She is the type of character I loathe, a villain for the sake of being a villain. In contrast, Killadelphia’s other antagonists, John Adams, Jupiter, and Tevin Tompkins, are fleshed-out men on a mission.

One for power, one for revenge, one for liberty and freedom.

Alexander’s art is the perfect companion to Barnes’ prose. Alexander has been in the industry for over twenty years and has received three Eisner Awards nominations during those two decades.

Any streaming service looking for its next big hit should be 100% lobbying Barnes to option Killadelphia into a series. It marries the real-world grittiness of The Wire to the macabre and dread-filled horror of Bram Strokers Dracula.

5 out of 5 stars.

 

Blood Stained Teeth: Book One Bite Me
Written by Christian Ward
Art by Patric Reynolds
Published by Image Comics

 

The bloodletting continues in Christian Ward’s Blood Stained Teeth.

Ward is the Eisner Award-winning co-creator of ODY-C, Invisible Kingdom, and Machine Gun Wizards returns to Image with red-hot artist Patric Reynolds for this all-new series—a fast-paced 100 Bullets-style crime saga with fangs!

Atticus Sloane is a firstborn vampire.

In the Blood Stained Teeth universe, only firstborn vampires can turn humans into vampires.

Sloane is a misanthropic, asshole criminal willing to put the honor of his heritage aside and sell immortality to the highest mortal bidder.

After his latest client goes viral for posting her transformation online, the First Council captures Atticus and gives him three weeks to kill all of his wayward vampire children unless.

If he fails to do so, Atticus is a “un”-dead man walking.

Atticus begins searching the world in a desperate search of all his wayward children, in a race against time, unaware that several conspiracies are brewing that threatens to derail his quest.

Blood Stained Teeth was a scary, fun, and funny thrill ride that deserves a big-screen adaptation.

Like Alexander’s in Killadelphia, Reynolds’ art captures the seediness and grime of the vampire-filled criminal underworld. Ward’s prose is quick and easy to read.

A short 148 pages, the book never feels like a slog, and I wrapped the story from beginning to end on my hour or so commute home from work.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Little Monsters, Volume One
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dustin Nguyen
Published by Image Comics

 

Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite comic creators, and in the recent past, Lemire has only disappointed once in the underwhelming and underdeveloped Primordial. Lemire returns to form in Little Monsters.

Three hundred years into the future, a ragtag group are the last children on Earth… also happen to be vampires.

For longer than they can remember, these child vampires have lived a life of eternal wonder amongst the ruins of humanity.

But shocking events fracture the group and set them on a path of discovery that will shatter their innocence forever.

Little Monsters, Volume One collects issues one through six of this thrilling series.

Described by critics as Lord of the Flies meets vampires, this is an exciting series brought to you by the Eisner-winning creative team of Lemire and Nguyen, the same creative minds behind the best-selling Descender and Ascender series.

Lemire’s writing is brilliant, and he sets a tone of both wonder and dread as the vampire children discover a group of humans for the first time in 300 years and experience what it means to be a vampire.

Like both Blood Stained Teeth and Killadelphia, Nguyen’s art captures the grit and despair of the vampire existence and marries that to a destroyed, ruined and desolate Earth.

The collected volume ends on a cliffhanger and is the perfect jumping-on point when the series returns from hiatus on November 2, 2022.

5 out of 5 stars.

It’s Halloween season; y’all need to get to reading these before the season of the witch ends!

 

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