Review: Stray Bullets #41

The return of the legendary Stray Bullets! It’s interesting because for many people there will be absolute fanboyism for this issue because they’ve been waiting years for its release. These people are likely to find zero faults because of this. The other end of the spectrum will be people who are disappointed by it because they had to wait and over hyped it or possibly ran out of nostalgia. It’s a good thing I’ve only read two issues of Stray Bullets and they weren’t connected to so I went in fresh on this baby! That’s correct, two issues; one of which was a Free Comic Book Day issue that was a personal favorite of mine, and the other… I can’t remember. I was under the impression that the series was mostly standalone stories so color me surprised when I discovered that issue forty-one here was the conclusion of a story arc. Did it matter? Did it change my perception of the issue?

The issue takes place in 1986 because let’s be honest if there was any time in America in which stories like Lapham’s could take place it was the 80’s! The story opens with a character named Huss coming over to his friend Kevin’s house and chewing him out about standing him up. He lays into him and Kevin drops the bomb that his dad knows everything about what they’ve been doing. It appears a girl named Ginny was kidnapped by the two boys and escaped Kevin’s house and stole his dad’s cocaine… well it wasn’t his cocaine it was a man named Mr. Fingers’ cocaine. Huss pretty much says, “not my problem” to the situation until Kevin’s dad tells him that all three of them are on the hook for the drugs. Now they have to find Ginny, get the drugs back to Mr. Fingers before anyone loses any more fingers.

straybullets41-coverHere’s why David Lapham is one of the greatest storytellers in the comic industry today… I didn’t need the previous issue to enjoy this issue or even to understand what was happening. The last issue was in 2005 and as I said, I didn’t read it and yet I was able to enjoy the hell out of this story.

I’ve ranted and raved about Lapham’s work on the site and podcast before so if you haven’t checked him out yet this is a great time to do so. His writing is very natural, his characters utterly realistic to the point that they stop being mere comic characters. And his violence! His VIOLENCE! Ah it’s like fantastic brush strokes of realism hung in front of the reader’s eyes.

Lapham’s artwork on this series is of course in black and white. To me it looked intentionally rough and while it was different from his work on Juice Squeezers, Squeezers is in color and so not a straight comparison. Even still it’s wonderful to look at. The characters are full of life and expressions making each page visually interesting to look at. And the violence!!!

There might be other reviews out there from people like myself that never steadily followed Stray Bullets (really wish I had put it on my pull list now!), but I have a feeling most will fall in the two categories I mentioned in the beginning.

If you’re a fan of Lapham’s work at Avatar Press you should check this book out. If you’re a fan of Lapham’s work at Marvel… you should check this book out. If you loved Lapham’s Vertigo titles, then definitely check this book out. More so, if you’re a fan of comics; of the comic medium, then you should check out Stray Bullets because it’s something that will only exist in its purest form as a comic book. And what a comic book it is.

Score: 5/5

Writer/Artist/Creator: David Lapham Publisher: El Capitan/Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 3/12/14