Monday, 22 January 2018

Kill Or Be Killed, Volume 3 Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

He may be trying to leave his murderous past as a masked vigilante behind him but the god-dang Russian Mob won’t stop hunting Dylan. To protect his loved ones, Dylan must… Kill or Be Killed! 

Kill or Be Killed, Volume 3 is a thoroughly entertaining closer to the first act of this increasingly compelling series. Ed Brubaker finally delivers on the explosive opening scene from way back in the first issue of this series - where Dylan is stalking through a building with a shotgun shooting everyone left and right - explaining the context and meaning behind it. It’s definitely worth it - Dylan vs the Russian Mob is the fixture I’ve been waiting to see and it’s the highlight of this title so far! 

Though readers following along at this point know whether the Demon Dylan keeps seeing, who’s making him kill (or be killed), is real or not, Brubaker throws another curveball in the form of a revelation from Dylan’s dear old ma, to add a new dimension to that aspect of the story. It’s a bit soap-opera-y in its suddenness though Dylan’s reaction hints that there’s more behind it - tantalising stuff! 

I liked Dylan’s continued character development too, particularly the scene where he stands up to his roommate Mason. And I really enjoyed his clever and twisty three-point plan for taking down the Mob, which reminded me of Frank Miller’s excellent A Dame To Kill For in both style and execution. 

Yeah, you can roll your eyes at the believability of a relatively combat-inexperienced milquetoast grad student single-handedly causing so much trouble for the Russian Mob - who is this guy, Frank Castle?! - but, hey, it’s more fun this way, y’know? I only really disliked a couple parts of the book. I’m not crazy about the romance subplot between Dylan and Kira, though I understand why it’s included (cliched motivation - le sigh), and Dylan can be a birruva annoying narrator with his rambling style. 

Sean Phillips’ artwork is stunning as always, complemented beautifully by Elizabeth Breitweiser’s astoundingly on-point and eye-catching colouring. I especially enjoyed Dylan’s dead father’s pulpy painted art (and not just for the racy content!) and the Demon design remains impressively unnerving - watch out for that last page! 

Brubaker and Phillips bring the first arc of Kill or Be Killed to a thrilling and satisfying end with this exciting third volume, the best book in the series yet - fans will definitely be pleased with this one. Bring on Act Two!

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