Sunday, 13 August 2017

Kill Or Be Killed, Volume 2 Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)


In the first book we met Dylan, a grad student whose life was saved by a demon. In exchange, he had to kill someone “deserving” (ie. a shithead) each month or he would die - kill or be killed. In the second book… nothing much new happens. Dylan continues to kill and that’s about it! 

Not to say that the book’s boring - Dylan shooting bankers is almost cathartic wish-fulfilment, particularly in the wake of the ‘08 crash precipitated by said corporate scumfucks, and the police and Russian mob slowly closing in on him is interesting - but a lot of the stuff outside of the action isn’t very compelling. 

Dylan hooks up with an old girlfriend, a new cop character is introduced, and Kira gets an issue of backstory - I wasn’t into any of it. That stuff seemed like pointless filler and dragged down the already-sluggish pacing of the story. Ed Brubaker also leans heavily in one direction on the “Is the Demon real or imagined?” mystery which ruins the ambiguousness of that plot point and makes the overall story rather mundane. 

Sean Phillips’ art is pretty darn good and I especially liked Dylan’s dad’s deliberately cheesy pulp art. Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colours are likewise outstanding as always. 

This series would really benefit from Dylan having a goal he was driving towards. It seems like he’s too easily settled into murdering someone evil each month. But is that something he’s going to do indefinitely - how about figuring out a way to get out of this absurd deal somehow by outsmarting the demon? Then again the static nature of that plot point ties into the “real or imagined” angle so I guess we’re just waiting for Dylan to finally slip up fatally and get caught/killed. Treading water like that though doesn’t make for exciting reading. 

I like the story of a guy in over his head and forced into doing something insane and when Brubaker focuses on that, it’s fun - all that other stuff though with the dull supporting characters I don’t care about is when he loses me. I didn’t dislike Kill or Be Killed, Volume 2 but it’s still not a great title and definitely not one of Brubaker/Phillips’ better collabs.

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