My pal James Cassara, realizing my recent post was a cry for help (just kidding), has sent along a Guest Review about a new book by a powerhouse creative team. Here's James:
Since I first came across a stray issue of Fatale, I’ve been a great fan of the creative team of writer Ed Brubaker, artist Sean Phillips, and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser.
After amassing a complete run of the series I began digging out other works, most noticeably Criminal, and eagerly awaiting any new series or one-shots they lent their talents to. They have yet to let me down.
Kill or Be Killed is the latest such offering. It’s filled with everything you’d expect from a Brubaker written story: an intriguing premise, intense violence balanced with askew humor, great characterization, and the promise of more to come.
The story revolves around Dylan, a NYU grad student living off a meager inheritance and trying to find his way in life.
Depressed by a failed relationship - his best friend Kira, for whom Dylan holds a not-so-secret longing, is dating his roommate Mason - Dylan sinks into depression and hastily decides to jump off a six story building and end it all.
After he inexplicably survives he makes a commitment to change himself, to embrace and enjoy life. Life is worth living.
That night, returning to his apartment, Dylan is visiting by a mysterious and horrific demon (and no one draws demonic beings better than Phillips) who claims to have spared Dylan his likely death.
In return Dylan must kill one “deserving” person per month, or he himself will die. Dylan initially (and understandably) believes this to be a hallucination, but when within days of the incident he becomes horribly ill, feverish to the point of exhaustion and near death, he knows something has changed.
While recovering from a broken arm caused by the demon, and still not sure if any of this is real or not, Dylan is attacked by a pair of street thugs and beaten senseless. As he lies bloody in the snow he begins to realize the rage pent up within him and yes, he is capable of killing another human being. The demon will tell him which ones.
It is there the first issue ends, and if that set up doesn’t grab a reader I don’t know what will.
My initial take on Kill or Be Killed was that all the elements are in place but don’t quite come together. Reading it a second time, as is necessary to grasping all the intricacies of a Brubaker / Phillips comic book, much of what I initially missed became clear.
This is first class stuff by the most inventive team in the field, three creators (Breitweiser’s coloring is an integral element) who work together seamlessly.
It’s not for everyone, and I admit the incessant use of the “F” bomb seems overdone. But such slight misgivings aside, I find myself counting the days until issue two arrives at my local comics shop.