By Ben Snyder
Kill or Be Killed #18 is unfortunately somewhat of a letdown. Most of Kill or Be Killed’s success has been based off of Ed Brubaker’s characterization of Dylan, Brubaker’s toying with the supernatural/mental illness, and/or Sean Phillips’s predictably stellar art. But issue #18 is missing on most of these qualities. It’s still a solid entry in the series, especially as it is rapidly approaching its endgame. However, Kill or Be Killed #18 mostly feels like a catch-up issue, whose only purpose is to sort out details rather than make them feel purposeful.
Perhaps one of my biggest complaints with Kill or Be Killed so far has been Ed Brubaker’s consistent depiction of the police. It’s not like he makes them mustache twirling villains or fat slovenly donut eaters. If he did it would probably make their overall ineptitude that much easier to stomach. Instead Brubaker paints them as hardworking and just people who are dedicated to the law and seeing it through. So how come all of the pieces leading back to Dylan fall seamlessly into place for Detective Lily Sharpe. It really seems like she doesn’t do much detective work at all besides following Dylan’s poorly hidden breadcrumbs.
Throughout the series one of my favorite aspects of it has been Dylan’s narration. Often times it has offered some meta-humor to break the thick tension in action or offered thoughtful insight into which character/situation would be significant going forward. And this continued in issue #18, if not emphasized this fact. Dylan’s narration is the main story motor for this issue so obviously it heavily relied on the success of his voice and timing. And for the most part it was successful if not heavy handed. I would have much rather preferred some subtlety instead of the abrupt, “here is how she got here” and “See how it’s all connected?” quips we are fed. This was one of the first times I felt as if Dylan was being outright rude when telling his story.
Perhaps Dylan’s shortness hints at his mental or physical undoing in the near future. There were some hints towards this such as Dylan commenting on how he would have never shot a cop, when he did so in the beginning of the series. I am also interested to see where Kira might be. I feel like if Detective Sharpe were being led meticulously towards Dylan’s secret, she would’ve eventually encountered his girlfriend who was also Mason’s ex.
There is only so much that can be said of Phillip’s art in this story as it has consistently hit a level of success and his reign remains intact during chapter #18. There are fewer risks taken than in prior issues, but he makes up for it with his attention to smaller details. The amounts of details that are poured into images we’ve seen take up entire panels in the past such as Dylan’s Father’s drawings or a picture of Dylan, Mason, and Kira are astounding.
Kill or Be Killed has been a consistently great and entertaining series. Whether it’s Ed Brubaker’s script or Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s art. But for several reasons Kill or Be Killed #18 fails to live up to the series’ lofty standards. Once again, this is not a bad comic- it’s simply that the plot doesn’t move forward enough to warrant its existence. I felt as though this entire issue could have been boiled down to a 3-4 page summary.
Kill or Be Killed #18