Small-town detective James Sangster, Jr. returns home to Philadelphia, when his legendary father, James Sangster, Sr., is killed. There is no remorse for the death of his father as the senior Mr. Sangster was a brutal father and husband. After finding and reading his father’s personal journal, James learns of a strange and mysterious case his father was working on with the medical examiner, Jose Padilla. A talented and methodical woman, she was the one who reported that not only did the recent murders in Philadelphia have multiple human bite wounds, suffered from yellow fever, but were drained of blood, as well. An incident in the morgue convinces both Padilla and James Sr. that the victims were not only killed by vampires, but are turning into them. The link to yellow fever leads James Sr. down a path he thought he’d never go. Now, James Jr. must take up the reins of his father’s case, but he ends up with a most unusual partner.
An intriguing story with flawed and damaged characters, the story quickly sucks you in. It’s tough to like James Sr.; he’s an awful human being who happens to be a really good detective, and he’s interesting enough that you want to tag along for the ride. His son and Jose are the likeable ones and are well grounded though their relationship was forced. I also appreciated that the supporting characters were diverse and not stereotypes. The story didn’t shy away from such important themes as race-based economic exclusion and social injustice. Not wanting to give away any spoilers, but how James Sr. is able to reach his conclusion that a certain former President is responsible for this madness was a bit of a reach.
The pacing was spot on, and the artwork and coloring were fascinating. The flashback sequences were worked in seamlessly, and the lettering was well done. There was a surrealistic quality to the horror sequences, and the extras in the trade paperback demonstrated how the artist used models to set them up. Other extras include the short comic, Elysium Fields, which brings the werewolf element to Philadelphia.
I think waiting for the collected edition of the first volume helped me to appreciate the story in its entirety.
Creative Team: Rodney Barnes (writer), Jason Shawn Alexander (artist), Luis NCT (colorist); Marshall Dillion (Letterer)
Publisher: Image Comics
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