By Ben Snyder
Sixteen issues in and Kill or Be Killed continues to find new and interesting ways to hook the reader in. It seems like each new issue introduces another cumbersome wrinkle for Dylan to maneuver around. In Kill or Be Killed #16, Dylan has to come to grips with a copycat killer besmirching his reputation and tarnishing his image while being confined and drugged up in an insane asylum. But its in Dylan’s introspection focusing on when he originally lost his youthful naiveté is where this issue makes its mark. In this instance both writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips work cohesively to not only make the reader side with a murdering insane person, but make a profound statement on life’s overall unfairness.
Brubaker is at the top of his craft with each and every issue of Kill or Be Killed and issue #16 is no exception. My favorite aspect of this story is how well Brubaker integrates different storylines into each issue. Every issue has the potential to be a giant pile of story threads leading nowhere and they vary from the supernatural to the insane, but Brubaker has continually proved that he is capable of synthesizing these disparate threads into a singular cohesive storyline.
Throughout this issue alone, Brubaker solidifies Dylan’s desire for justice, offers an extremely cynical perspective towards some mental health practices, shows how one’s own illness effects the lives of others around the person, and details a disheartening account of innocence lost; all while advancing the main plot and keeping it interesting.
Perhaps the least enjoyable part of this issue is the events surrounding the copycat killer. While reading these scenes I felt myself longing to spend more time with Dylan’s own struggles. Maybe this will be changed if and when we get any insight into the copycat killer. I wonder if we will get an issue detailing his or her perspective of the events and see if the Demon really has spread to him as well. I also wasn’t a big fan of Mason’s part in this issue. Mason as a character has actually been the worst part of this series so far, mainly because he’s a dick. At this point in the story it honestly doesn’t even make any sense for Dylan to still be roommates with him, the only story justification for it would be the very last scene, which cements Mason’s dickishness.
One recurring aspect of this series that has continuously worked has been the page and panel layout. It perfectly compliments Sean Phillips’s art giving it the perfect amount of space to breath and provide background story. I really love the parts when Brubaker has his strip along the side for Dylan to ramble, and the images Phillips matches with them. In issue #16, the images support the ramblings of Dylan’s lost innocence, but they do so in a heartbreaking manner. It’s as if we see how sad it is, but Dylan is incapable of it; which also backs up how mentally unwell Dylan actually is.
Kill or Be Killed #16 continues the run of excellence for the series. But more importantly it goes miles in establishing it’s already well thought out and written characters and advances the side characters and stories to new heights. Issue #16, only reinforces Dylan’s murderous desire (Demon or no Demon) and his inner compass towards justice, now we just have to wait and see how he goes through with it. Everyone should be reading this series.
Kill or Be Killed #16