2016’s Best New Series rings kicks off 2017 with its second story arc. Our favorite unreliable narrator is back and ready to kick names and take ass—all in the name of truth, justice, and to keep from dying at the hands of the demon who gave him a second chance at life after a failed suicide attempt…
…or maybe he’s hallucinating that part. Either way, even killing bad people is bound to raise your wanted level a bit.
Kill or Be Killed #5 (Image Comics)
- This is some pretty heady dialogue for a dude sitting on the toilet
- Oh no…
- Just when I start to think Dylan is losing touch with reality, he reels me back in with an acerbic observation about his love life.
- Dylan’s getting a little too good at this.
- Yikes. All that stuff about fate seems a lot less esoteric and navel-gazey when it actually happens in a believable manner.
- OH C’MON!
Let’s get the one bad thing out of the way first: That ending was just plain mean—and not in a good way. I’m all for a good cliffhanger, but not when it’s looped around on such a clear trajectory. Ed Brubaker knows a lot more about writing than me (obviously), but if Dylan was really going to take this next terrible step, it feels like the issue’s last shot would have been completely different. As it stands now, the information being kept hidden from us makes it pretty clear what happens next.
I could be wrong of course. We’ll see in a month.
Other than that minor quibble, though, Brubaker once again crafts a masterful script for what is quickly becoming my favorite series he’s ever done. Maybe this says something concerning about me, but Dylan somehow remains intimately relatable no matter how crazy things get for him. Even his more high-minded musings are brought down to earth in a way that perfectly joins with the unfolding narrative.
Phillips makes Brubaker’s already phenomenal script even better, handling the close quarters action sequences and intimate dialogue with the same level of detail. And speaking of those action sequences, this may be a comic book, but Kill or Be Killed doesn’t spoon-feed its readers a bunch of stylized violence. When Dylan kills, it’s messy, chaotic, and disturbing—just like his life has become since that fateful day when he attempted suicide.
When you see that a series is being created by Brubaker/Phillips, you don’t have to go very out on a limb to predict it will be good. With Kill or Be Killed, however, it might be time to start the discussion about whether or not this is creative team’s best work yet.