By Ben Snyder
Every issue of Kill or Be Killed is one to remember and issue #12 is no exception. What started as a tale of a hallucinating schizophrenic trying to reason why his murders were just and the right thing to do, has evolved into a commentary on the state of society and its justice system, a deep involving look at the mind of someone dealing with mental illness, a hopeful view on love, and so much more. Kill or Be Killed #12 is one of my favorite issues of the series for reasons the series has never touched on before. Dylan has a legitimate, at least to him, motivation for committing murders now.
In the past, I was very interested in the paranormal aspects of the story. Partially because I always love when a writer, especially one as adept as Ed Brubaker, toys with the concept of what mental illness actually is, but also because it was an interesting spin on the mass murderer logic we’ve heard so much before. We’ve heard, “The voices made me do it” enough where it is a cliché but what if it were actually real? In the latest issue of Kill or be Killed though, this mystery is left by the wayside and Dylan’s growth shines because of it.
Dylan is in love with Kira and he is fighting desperately to protect her. You can’t help but feel happy for him as he describes the sudden shift he feels with her. He always loved her, but ever since he killed that guy to protect her, he noticed how he was in love with her and reading how he feels about Kira and the situation was a genuinely sweet and heartwarming moment. The Halloween night was something you could almost see happening in a typical rom-com movie, and then it all boiled down to Dylan’s determined face, acknowledging that he has to kill the Russians to truly end it. His face is truly shocking and almost looks pained, like he doesn’t want to do this but he knows he has to.
I loved Dylan’s “research” at the strip club, as despite the awkward circumstances he was in, he remained determined and focused on uncovering any information he could. Watching Dylan systemically find the “big boss” of the Russians was a treat and reading his logic on which place to go to next illuminated just how smart Dylan actually is. For a while I kind of forgot that in the hubbub of the overall plot. And the lengths that Dylan will go to in order to protect are crazy, yet romantic and I can’t wait for Kira to inevitably find out about Dylan’s antics. I honestly can’t say whether or not how she will feel when she finds out, but I have total faith that Brubaker will do the scene justice.
Sean Phillips art is predictably brilliant in union with the story. The buildings and characters are gloomy and gritty as Dylan undergoes his stakeouts, but when he’s with Kira everything is clear and noticeably brighter. Dylan’s face in the strip club contorts with discomfort and anguish. I like the little touch that the stripper resembled Kira slightly. It emphasizes the fact that she is the only thing on Dylan’s mind. Phillps’s art perfectly encapsulates the noir story that Brubaker sets out to tell.
Kill or Be Killed #12 is a true triumph for the series, which has already been so great so far. It deviated from the paranormal aspects of the series and instead focused more on the relationship between Dylan and Kira and the lengths Dylan will go to protect her. I liked how the devil wasn’t present in this issue because this chapter wasn’t about the paranormal; it was about the passion.
Kill or Be Killed #12