Have you ever asked the question “why is the world sooooo fucked and why is nobody doing anything about it?” If yes then you’re not alone. Many comics come up with a solution for this in some shape or form. Whether it is to bring criminals to justice or spreading peace throughout the universe every has their answer.
In “ Kill or Be Killed”, their answer is to shotgun blast away bad guys that make the world a shittier place. No judge, no jury, just blood. Now, you might be thinking “Man, that old vigilante chestnut? Seen it”. And you would be right, to an extent. “Kill or Be Killed” does follow a lot of the same tropes of the average anti-hero story while adding in a bit of a new twist. The anti-hero is not a willing participant. Still interested? Keep reading.
Dylan, our main character, is a grad student living in NY with some problems. He is dealing with a lot of stress and what seems to be depression. School is torture for him. He feels like all his classmates have gotten ahead of him after being out of school for few years due to trying to kill himself (for reasons unknown). Due to a complicated love triangle between his best friend, Kira and her boyfriend Mason, who is also his roommate, he decides to try again by jumping off a roof. Fortunately for him, a demon intervenes, without him knowing it, and he lives. Amazed that he survived, Dylan changes his mind and decides to lead a new life. Unfortunately for him, the demon has other plans. After revealing himself and breaking Dylan’s arm, the demon gives him a choice. Dylan can kill one evil person a month or die.
I’ll be honest and admit this was my first time exposed to the art style of Sean Phillps (Fatale, Marvel Zombies). I don’t hate it, but it does seem a little off to me. Nothing wrong with it, but it just feels off. Like how he draws mouths and eyes, or clothing. Again, just my opinion. I do like the way the demon is drawn, as well as all of the fighting scenes. Especially the shotgun scene. That was dope.
The writing however is another story. My friends have been raving about Ed Brubaker writing and I can see what the hype is about. Very early, he establishes a connection between you and Dylan. You empathize with him. You get his helplessness. You may not agree with his choice, but you can see why he got there.
I will admit though, whether it was done intentionally, Brubaker does jump around a bit in the order of events but it is not too jarring. It almost adds to the confusion Dylan is feeling with his new role in life and the reader’s understanding of what actually going on. Next issue states that we get to see Dylan’s first kill and I can honestly say I’m a little excited to see how that goes down. Dylan makes a bit on a self-realization at the end of this issue that makes me interested in his future as a vigilante.
Overall, I enjoyed reading “Kill or Be Killed” and I will definitely read the next (at least three , four if more shotguns scenes) issue(s) to see what happens next.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Review by Sam Harper