The search for the money, the search for family, begins to converge as multiple storylines tangle together in bloody fashion as Stray Bullets #40 comes at you like a Friday night special.

Stray Bullets #40 ReviewSTRAY BULLETS #40

Story:  David Lapham
Illustrator:  David Lapham
Letters: David Lapham
Editor: Maria Lapham
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 28th, 2018
Price: $4.99

Previously in Strange Bullets: Multiple storylines have been bubbling away in previous issues of Stray Bullets.  Now, as the action converges on one fleapit motel, Chandra, Kretch, Orson and Stephano all make their move.  The stakes?  250,000 cool ones.  The price?  Their lives…

THE GREAT JUGGLER

Juggling this many characters and storylines can only be done by a creator who knows his creation inside and out, and has a keen sense of timing.  Strange Bullets #40 writer and illustrator David Lapham is just the person for the job.  In previous issues of Strange Bullets, Lapham has been building the story up to the crescendo it reaches in this issue, and pulls it off with a satisfactory punch to the gut of all concerned.

From all corners of the country come the participants in this passion play, seeking $250,000 and family.  Annie has fallen in with Love, with tin-foil hat wearing psychic Vic along for the ride.  Love claims to have taken a call from Beth, Annie’s daughter, but he lies, as it is Chandra, in the thrall of psycho killer, Kretch.  Annie just wants to save her daughter, Beth, who has hooked up with Orson, but Love is not telling her the whole story.

Beth, in fact, is under the thrall of a killer named Siccaro, who also wants the cash.  Spanish Scottie sends his man Roth to off Beth and claim the money.

It is, as someone says, a day where many people are going to die.

Tying up loose ends from previous issues, Stray Bullets #40 brings all the characters to the Fish motel, where the $250,000 is located.  As some of them lie in wait, and others make their move, events explode into gunfire and many do indeed die.  Later, as Kretch and Chandra make their own move to claim the money, there is a flashback to a previous issue where Orson and Beth, having barely survived the shootout at the motel, are run off the road outside Phoenix.

Confused?  Don’t be.  Lapham has spent many issues setting up his characters, like chess pieces on a board, moving them with confidence around the playing field, setting them up for a grandstand finish that does two things simultaneously – provide a payoff for some of the characters and events, while opening the board to further intricate plotting and power plays.

The artwork largely adheres to the eight-panel layout that gives so much of the story its narrative drive.  The pace of events is incredibly swift, yet the careful reader won’t be left behind.  The black and white art also compounds the power of the story, its rich starkness and clarity adding to and not detracting to the events it is illustrating.

CHARACTERS ALL OVER THE PLACE

I think the real power of the story lies in the richness and diversity of the characters.  Every character, no matter how circumscribed they may be by others, has a certain amount of agency.  Lapham’s diverse cast is a credit to his skill as a writer – all feel different and vibrant in their own ways and each character adds to the strength of the story.  Vic the actual psychic provides the comedy relief, for instance, while Kretch’s barely restrained psychopathy provides the sort of menace that engages and repels the reader in equal measure

BOTTOM LINE – COMPELLING

Since picking up Stray Bullets after a lengthy hiatus, I have been drawn back to it repeatedly due to the strong storytelling and rich characters.  The events are appalling, and some of the characters barely deserve the title human, but Lapham has woven a rich tapestry of crime and tension from the disparate threads.  Stray Bullets #40 feels in some way like an ending, but there is so much more on offer that it really feels instead like a beginning.

Stray Bullets #40

80%
80%
Compelling

Since picking up Stray Bullets after a lengthy hiatus, I have been drawn back to it repeatedly due to the strong storytelling and rich characters. The events are appalling, and some of the characters barely deserve the title human, but Lapham has woven a rich tapestry of crime and tension from the disparate threads. Stray Bullets #40 feels in some way like an ending, but there is so much more on offer that it really feels instead like a beginning.

  • Writing
    8
  • Art
    8
  • Coloring
    8
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)
    0
Share.

About Author

Romantic. Raconteur. Kangaroo rustler. Sadly, Rob is none of these. Rob has been a follower of genre since at least the mid-1970s. Book collector, Doctor Who fan, semi-retired podcaster, comic book shop counter jockey, writer (once!) in Doctor Who Magazine and with pretensions to writing fantasy and horror, Rob is the sort of fellow you can happily embrace while wondering why you're doing it. More of his maudlin thoughts can be found at his ill-tended blog https://robertmammone.wordpress.com/

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.