Rodney Barnes, writer
Jason Shawn Alexander, art
Luis NCT, colors
Marshall Dillon, Letters
This issue begins with the backstory of Fergie O’Neil. He is a faithful servant to Abigail, the leader of the vampire horde plaguing Philadelphia. O’Neil, also known as “Toppy”, lived in Deadwood Kansas and cleaned the streets up of the dead that were part and parcel to the chaos of the western town. In his early life he was a slave and a soldier in the Confederate army.
The contradictions in Toppy’s life story are interesting because they parallel the problematic decisions made by presidents and society at the time. The story mentions death and violence as necessary evils. In addition, the story explores the role of chaos, mayhem, and lawlessness as strategic elements in the taming of the west. What makes this intriguing is that the vampire horde attacking Philadelphia is utilizing the same strategy: Abigail’s strategy is to remove law and order, pull the community apart at the molecular level to gain control, not to destroy.
The art is consistent throughout the issue and perfectly matches the story elements. The dark, thick lines and the muddy colors build on the messiness of through-line of this story, which is that this nation is built on violence and death.
In addition, the picture in picture techniques used through framing a character, pulls the character’s face forward like being under a microscope, allowing for great detail in representing the emotions in the face. In other frames, the texture of the frame gives age to the photos. Furthermore, blurred images place emphasis on the symbolic representation of character, like that of natives, and turn potentially ordinary frames into interesting frames. Finally, mixed in are these intimate frames picturing a family huddled together. The contrast in the use of these different images keeps the book feeling alive and kinetic.
Ultimately, this story continues to intrigue because of its use of history, exploration of important themes, and beautiful art. This issue continues to provide backstory to supporting characters and connects themes to the larger story. Fergie O’Neil grows up on a plantation and has ties to our 3rd president Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s owning of slaves shows the depths in which this abusive and systematic dehumanizing practice impacts our country. I would highly recommend this story for readers who like the mixture of history and fantasy themes. Overall = 9/10