By Daniel Vlasaty
Issue #5 ended on a cliffhanger, and issue #6 picks up right where it left off. Still in the bathroom. Still with Dylan’s shotgun pointed at some cops. It’s a tense stand-off, but it’s downplayed by Dylan’s detached, kind of blasé narration.
This is the first time I can remember that I felt like the narration got in the way of the story in Kill or Be Killed. Like I said it’s detached and it’s written in the past tense. So, Dylan’s already been through all the shit he’s explaining to us. He’s telling us the story, so he knows more than us, but I wish this opening scene – with all the tension and possibilities for action – would have just been played out for us.
I’m not questioning Ed Brubaker’s writing. I know he knows what he’s doing. I’m just saying that sometimes it’s better to fall back on that old writing expression of show, don’t tell. Which is maybe a weird thing to say, since this is a comic book I’m talking about here, so we are seeing it laid out in panels across the page. But it’s just big chunks of narration over it. It takes you out of the moment. You know this is a story being told to you. You know that the guy pointing a shotgun at some cops got away somehow. Because he’s telling you the story.
After that initial scene, though, the book takes off. Nothing huge happens but there’s a lot of set up and we meet some new characters. Characters that could potentially change the entire dynamic of the series. There’s a hungry cop hot on the trail of the killer. There’s a reporter that getting involved in the story. And then there’s the Russian mob.
The scope of the book seems to be expanding, which is a good thing. I’ve always liked the book, but with the new characters we’ve been introduced to in this issue, Kill or Be Killed can only get better. I mean, there’s only so much you can do with or care about a millennial killing “bad” people because a demon tells him it’s the right thing to do.
As far as the art goes, I never really have much to say about it in Kill or Be Killed. Sean Phillips stuff is great, and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors only compliment it. It’s just a really good looking book. And the art fits the story perfectly, as it does with everything Brubaker and Phillips do together. It’s dark and shadowy and the subtle use of color amplifies the tone of certain scenes.
I’m excited to see where Brubaker takes this series in the coming issues. I know it’s going to be good, but then again it’s always good with this creative team. I just wish he’d maybe cool it a little bit with the heavy narration.
Kill or Be Killed #6
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Publisher: Image Comics