Would you kill someone if it meant you would keep living? What if the person you’d kill was a horrible human being? Could you do it if you knew that person would go to hell? Of course, it would mean helping the devil grow his army. Kill or be Killed, by superstar duo Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, has a character dealing with just such a scenario. The Major Spoilers review of Kill or be Killed #2 is here!
Previously in Kill or be Killed: After attempting suicide, Dylan is visited in the night by a/the devil. The devil tells Dylan that he spared his life and in exchange wants Dylan to kill people. If he’s going to, he might as well choose bad people, which also helps the devil grow his army in Hell. For every life taken, it adds one month to Dylan’s. If Dylan refuses, he dies.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
I was extremely impressed with issue one of Kill or be Killed. What started out as something I thought I’d seen Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do turned in to something else completely. The duo is no stranger to dark, violent crime stories but I’ve never seen any mystical or supernatural from them. When the devil showed up in issue one, I was taken aback. It looks like Brubaker and Phillips are trying something a little different, and so far it’s working.
This issue focuses on Dylan’s first kill. Murder would be more appropriate I suppose. Brubaker writes as if Dylan is telling the story to the reader and it is a great way to get a look inside Dylan’s head. The thought process that Dylan uses to not only decide who to kill, but how is extremely compelling. Just showing how Dylan gets his hands on a gun gives us a look at some of his childhood and insight to who he is as a person, and possibly explaining why he’s suicidal. All this leads to Dylan figuring out who to kill, as he has a childhood memory about a friend. He remembers his friend having been molested by his older brother and no one ever knew except Dylan, because of a remark his friend made when they were young.
It’s interesting to see the character justify who he’s going to murder and I liked that Dylan wasn’t immediately fine with it. He doubts that he should do it, reasoning that maybe the man had gotten help or what he did isn’t evil enough for Dylan to take his life. Brubaker is examining vigilantism and it’s clear that having Dylan question himself is how the writer is going about it. It’s almost directly asking the readers what they think about Dylan’s actions. It’s heavy stuff but readers looking for a gripping look at the topic should check this book out.
HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?
I love Sean Phillips artwork but I’ve noticed a bit of a trend recently, starting in The Fade Out, Brubaker and Phillips’s last comic. The faces of the characters he’s drawing tend to resemble characters from other titles he has worked on. The man Dylan murders in this issue looks almost exactly like Charlie from The Fade Out, minus some stubble and longer hair. It’s not with every drawing nor every character but when it pops up I’m certainly distracted. Still, Phillips makes use of heavy shadows and blacks extremely well and it helps set the gritty, dark tone of the story. Elizabeth Breitweiser’s coloring is unique and looks great, but I feel works against Phillips’s art at times. His drawings and inks are almost something that would work better in black and white. Regardless, there is nothing here to be disappointed about and the book looks wonderful.
BOTTOM LINE: BEST WORK YET
Kill or be Killed might be Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker’s best work yet. Until now the top spot was taken by The Fade Out, but Kill or be Killed is unlike anything else from the duo that I’m dying to see what comes next. Yes, there are elements the two have used before but the addition of the supernatural is a much-needed departure. Sure, it’s only on issue two, but I’m hooked and have been enthralled with the story. Issue two doesn’t disappoint, both from art and story, and I highly suggest everyone go give this one a read.