Of Killadelphia creators Rodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander tell a spinoff story in a new city with a new kind of terror. With artist Patric Reynolds, colorist Luis NCT and letterer Marshall Dillion, Nita Hawes’ nightmare blog # 1 is a tense and deep opening to this new horror series. With the same kind of character-driven writing that makes Killadelphia visual work so successful and incredible as ever, this new series is on a hell from a start.
“Jimmy Sangster may have left Maryland for the vampire infested town of ‘Killadelphia’, but there is still untold evil lurking in the streets of Baltimore. The demon Corson has surfaced from the underworld to possess a man once wronged, and his revenge will come at the cost of the despair of mankind! But Jimmy’s former lover, Nita Hawes, a woman with her own demons, has begun a quest to root evil out of her town. Guided by the ghost. of her dead brother, she must come to terms with her own past, lest she join her brother in a state worse than death!
Writing and plot
Rodney Barnes builds horror the right way Nita Hawes’ nightmare blog # 1. A bit like with Killadelphia, he builds history in a double sense. He builds the character and story of Nita Hawe and other cast members to make them accessible and feel human. When he doesn’t do that, he scares us with his antagonist. Hawes’ experience with evil comes from his past – both from his ex Jimmy Sangster (protagonist of Killadelphia) and the tragic manslaughter of his brother. The problem is, her brother won’t leave her now. Hawes’ guilt takes on a unique form here, as her little brother’s ghost pushes her to create this blog and root out evil.
Barnes does a fantastic job, making Hawes a complete character who simultaneously experiences and deals with trauma. We’re only the tip of the iceberg with her underworld investigations, and I can’t wait to see how she handles this threat. On the other hand, we have Corson. Her story is as compelling as any slaughter-loving demon can be. This monstrosity of the blues song is a real terror on the page, each of its scenes remaining well engraved in my memory. Especially with what could very well be the most shaking fear of the turn of the page in the comics on this side of Junji Ito.
Jason Shawn Alexander work on Spawn probably prepared him well for what he’s doing here in Nita Hawes’ nightmare blog # 1. Much like with Killadelphia, he and Patric Reynolds are responsible for the art and layouts of this spin-off. Alexander displays a keen sense of the direction of horror in this issue. It typically sets up 5-8 panels per page, capturing movement from moment to moment from different perspectives. In the case of character moments, this is a great way to get a feel for people’s emotional states and personalities. In a horror scene, it is an intense role-playing game for the approach and slaughter by a demon of its victims. This complex direction is changing just for the latest fear of the turn of the page. A full page image creates one of the scariest scenes in horror comics.
Alexander and Reynolds have a distinct and gorgeous style that’s perfect for character detail and horror. Their use of realistic references has an almost photorealistic effect that never enters the territory of a strange valley. Tiny expressions are portrayed in perfect detail to give us a glimpse of the heads of our main characters. Demonic details come to life with fierce surprise, with ominous patterns and bloody consequences. Much of the horror here is based off of genre staples, but it’s handled so well it’s a welcome sight for any horror fan.
Color and lettering
Luis Nct’s painted style colors add a whole other layer of complexity to the book’s aesthetic. Each image is saturated with a palette of shades due to color work instead of a flat tone. His work is particularly memorable on the most monstrous and supernatural sequences. These moments bathed in blood, viscera and / or hellfire resemble the works of Francisco Goya. Marshall Dillion’s lettering is worth noting here for its simple yet creative touches. Its main typeface is a contemporary standard and very readable typeface that comes to life during the passages of the Corsan demon. The red on black lettering is such a smart move. Its letters SFX are also very cool, presenting themselves as squeaky and disturbing shockwaves. This comic is a phenomenal piece of visual horror storytelling.
Nita Hawes’ nightmare blog # 1 is a phenomenal and spooky start for this spinoff series. Rodney Barnes writes a screenplay that constructs his characters to make their issues relatable to the reader while never letting go of the brutal terror that has befallen their world. The visuals of Jason Shawn Alexander, Patric Reynolds, and Luis NCT are densely detailed and dark in atmosphere, creating images that will stay with you long after the book closes. If you are a fan of Killadelphia or a horror fan in general, be sure to grab this number when it becomes available on 10/20!