By Ben Snyder
Each and every new chapter in Kill or Be Killed excites me and leaves me with more and more questions tat I can’t wait to get answered. Kill or Be Killed #17 is no exception as writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips deliver another riveting entry. Chapter #17 offers some interesting revelations, and the delivery of them is brilliant if not untrustworthy, but the main success of this issue is how Brubaker toys with the idea that Dylan may not be insane despite being in an asylum.
Brubaker has consistently doled out successful chapter after successful chapter in Kill or Be Killed, and chapter 17 is no slouch. While many of this issue is centered on Dylan’s inner ramblings, certain absolutes are established. The first and possibly most important is that the Demon is gone and was never there, to begin with. Instead, the demon acts as a lens through which Dylan can see all of the evil in the world and gives him a reason to act on his more primal and violent urges. I appreciate the reasoning behind this and the casual aloofness that Dylan presents this theory with is rather sinister and determined.
However, I can’t help but shake the feeling that this reveal was done earlier in this series only for the demon to reappear. I understand that Dylan is an unreliable narrator because he is obviously deranged, regardless of what he says, but I feel as though Brubaker has consistently pulled the rug out from underneath us in order to only reinsert it for shock several chapters later. Perhaps we will never get a concrete answer as to whether the demon is real or not and perhaps that is not the point of him in the story, all I would like is for the story to remain consistent on the answer. For if the demon is real, I fear the story may bend more and more supernatural.
Regardless of the demon, this chapter is just a continuation of establishing Dylan’s motives and core traits. Dylan is no longer concerned about meeting the monthly quota, instead doing it because he feels it is right and a necessity. And there truly is no better recipient of Dylan’s judgment than Perry. What a scumbag. I think making him so unsavory in private but pleasing in public only heightens Dylan’s obsession, because who else would have seen Perry in the other patients room. But once again Brubaker absolutely nails Dylan’s inner monologue, striking the perfect balance between cynical and deranged.
Sean Phillips is not given much room to experiment in this entry and it truly isn’t necessary. His art compliments the story as well as ever, and the scene in the snowstorm is truly beautiful as the fat snowflakes go through panel to panel. The splash panel of Dylan standing alongside his monologue is exceptionally haunting.
Kill or Be Killed #17 continues Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s run of excellence. While no truly original or new idea is introduced in this issue, it doesn’t particularly need one. Kill or Be Killed #17 succeeds for the same reason the prior entries have, it’s just damn good.
Kill or Be Killed #17