Killadelphia, Harleen, Dead Eyes

If you enjoy some gritty, dark reads and complex characters, check out this triple threat!

In the backdrop of Philly, a town that survived the grim cocaine epidemic of the 1970s-90s, one homicide detective named Jimmy discovered something horrible while working a case. After Jimmy’s death, his son, JJ, reluctantly picks through his father’s old journal, and reveals the haunting secrets of that fatal case. Killadelphia explodes on the page with noir-ish artwork that feels like True Detective meets true horror. The panels are gritty, muted, with attention paid to shadows. The comic is stunning and I became unable to tear myself away from learning more with each page turn.

Oh, Harleen. Nothing like a love story about murderers to get you all warm and fuzzy inside. Though to be honest, the burgeoning love story between the doomed Harleen Quinn and Joker isn’t what gets me going in this comic set in Batman’s Gotham City. For me it’s the care put into the panels – each one pulling you into the unfolding horror while also economically being able to tell story. There was a two page spread in particular that floored me in its ability to cover a series of interviews with Arkham Asylum’s most infamous in a dynamic yet succinct way. The best parts of this comic are the art (minus Joker) and the exploration of how – the often portrayed as a dingbat – Harley Quinn is actually Harleen, an intelligent, funny, charming psychologist who takes on the dangerous task of becoming a researcher at Arkham Asylum. Do I really care about Joker in this? Not really. Is he drawn like an Abercrombie model? Kinda. Does it fix the fact that the Joker is an asshole? Not really, and I refuse to fall for this artistic trick! But you, prospective reader, might think he looks sexy. That’s fair.

Dead Eyes is the kind of comic that should be made into a streaming service series. It has all the flavor of a gangster show and the production wouldn’t have to spend a fortune on special effects. Dead Eyes is just a man in a mask who knows how to punch. This popular 90s masked Bostonian version of Robin Hood rejoins the fight present day when his moral obligation to take care of his sick wife supersedes her desire to ensure his safety. His day job at the local Walmart might not pay enough to provide for his wife, but his return to the streets may help him get the money he needs. In the process, he may even help save innocent lives. That is, so long as enemies from the past don’t ruin his pay day.

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