The Narratives of History in “Killadelphia”: Part II

Matthew Teutsch
6 min readAug 5, 2022

In my last post, I started looking at the differing perspectives we get of Jupiter’s history in Rodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander’s Killadelphia. Specifically, I began to examine Jupiter’s description of his past in juxtaposition to the perspectives of Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson. After killing Blake Scott on stage during a concert, Jupiter turns himself in to the police so he can infiltrate the prison and turn incarcerated individuals and others into vampires for Abigail’s army. Before he does this, he sits in his cell in Abigail's house, with his wrists and ankles shackled and a spit guard over his mouth, he begins to tell his journey to this moment and how the knowledge of that journey, while not causing us to condone his actions, will provide context for what he has done and will also begin to “make sense” to us. His story focuses on the psychological trauma of enslavement and his continued, long after the end of enslavement, dehumanization whereas Jefferson’s and Abigail’s retelling of Jupiter’s story present him as willfully subjecting to his position until Abigail frees him.

Issue #9 opens with a five-page panel depicting Jupiter sitting in the jail cell as he addresses the audience about killing Scott on stage. We see him in the first panel, facing us, looking down at the ground as he narrates, “A great man once said, ‘The genius is the one most like himself.’” This quote comes from Thelonious Monk’s advice to Steve Lacey, a saxophonist in Monk’s band, in 1960. The full quote reads, “Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.” The quote reminds us that anyone can do anything, but within Jupiter’s context, and specifically considering he only quotes the latter part of Monk’s statement, it takes on a slightly different meaning.

For Jupiter, the quote becomes a self-reflection on himself. The genius is within oneself, not brought about by competition with an outside force. It is inherently within, waiting to arise from the interior. We see this aspect in the second panel when we see Jupiter in silhouette and in profile, head down as he sits shackled in the…

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.