08th Jun2017

‘Kill or Be Killed #9’ Review

by Dan Clark

Written by Ed Brubaker | Art by Sean Philips | Published by Image Comics


The use of first person narration is often looked down upon by people. Some say it is a lazy way to provide information or exposition about a story. It is typically more accepted in the crime genre because it is an expected trope of that style of filmmaking and story telling. Ed Brubaker’s use of it in Kill or Be Killed is quickly becoming one of my personal favorites. There is a self-awareness that allows him to speak directly to the reader without it taking you out of the book. He will bring you in by asking the question you were just about to ask to make it feel like he is speaking directly to you. There are a lot of elements that make Kill or Be Killed one of my favorite current series and that is one of the biggest.

Now nine issue in the stakes are getting higher and higher. Previously much of the drama came from Dylan attempting to find the right person to kill and dealing with the emotional fallout from those action. Now that fallout has become more physical as the Russians are beginning to track him down without his knowledge. What he assumes is his normal meet and greet with his friendly neighborhood drug dealers turns into a deadly shootout.

This series tends to run by Murphy’s Law of whatever can go wrong will go wrong. One of my personal favorites this issue was the challenge of getting to a hospital during an extremely tense situation. What is typically a quick cutaway is actually discussed at length, and will have major ramifications for this future story.

In the letter section of this issue Brubaker brings up his enjoyment of the Cohen brothers as well as the TV series Fargo. I am not sure if that is the reason this feels like a Cohen brother’s movie to me, but if they were ever to do a comic I swear it would be something similar to this. Both have the ability to use humor within tense situations without it taking away from the excitement. Dylan is a normal person placed in an extraordinary situation and it is treated as such. In that there is a lot of natural comedy. If you are a fan of the Cohens or a movie like Blue Ruin you will enjoy this series.

Sean Philips is doing some career work on this book. I thought The Fade Out was going to be my favorite collaboration between him and Brubaker but this is giving it a run for its money. His facial acting is suburb and key in nailing the emotions of this book. He can give someone so much character just in the way he dictates their expressions. In this issue we have what is probably the most extended action sequence of the series thus far. He sets the stage to give the reader the necessary understanding of location and space. It’s quick and to the point making its impact linger.

Kill or Be Killed has shown it is a series that can change on a dime. In issue nine we have more of the exciting action element of the book that we have not seen since the opening pages of the first issue. With next issue being the last of this current arc there is a lot to wrap up in one book. Based on everything so far I am sure this team has something special planned.

****½  4.5/5


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