Review: Stray Bullets: Killers #5

It’s here, everyone. It’s finally here: the Triumphant Return of Amy Racecar to Stray Bullets. There is much rejoicing in my household. Stray Bullets: Killers #5 was a really nice cap to the four issues that came before it, retelling the whole sordid tale in Cinderella terms, in true Amy Racecar fashion. Suddenly the boy who was missing his lower leg turns into an armless/legless/blind dude. Amy Racecar has never been kind to the men in her life. The armless/legless/blind guy lives with his shrew of a mother who uses him as a human pipe cleaner to clean out her chimney, and it just gets stranger from there. The Amy Racecar-version of Spanish Scott shows up as a reality show host, which oddly feels right at home. He’s a suave, taco-loving Dog the Bounty Hunter.

This issue was a lot of fun in the ways that Amy Racecar issues always are. They’re the real stories of Virginia Applejack writ large from her imagination into spacefaring sagas of weirdos and casual murderers. The really impressive part is that David Lapham has taken that quintessential part of every cartoonist’s childhood, the short stories and comics they drew that were about themselves as superheroes, and he’s elevated them to an art form. They’re not just juvenile scribblings or meandering stories, they’re well-drawn and extremely well-plotted; what makes them notable is that they always fire on all the right metaphorical levels without breaking the core conceit, that they are a child’s stories.

StrayBulletsKillers05_Cover copy 2The world of Stray Bullets has always been one of small gems of stories making up larger mosaics, long game stories that add up to an even richer story when you read them as a whole. Speaking to that, this new series of Stray Bullets doesn’t have traditional number, where each issue counts from page one to page twenty-five—according to this issue, we’re already in the early-to-mid 100s as far as page count. This isn’t a continuing series of comic books; it’s a goddamn Russian novel. Actually, let me revise that. Since there’s already a 1300 page Stray Bullets book on my shelf, this is a second work. If War and Peacewas a comic book and there was a sequel to it, this would be that sequel. It’s a great creator who can do this twice and still make it mean something each month.

Virginia’s been doing so well in this series so far, she’s practically well-adjusted. What the end of this issue posits is that there’s some darkness coming on the horizon for our intrepid heroine. After all: there’s a reason Lapham changed the title to Stray Bullets: Killers, y’know?

The story of Virginia Applejack may never end. I have no doubt that this girl has the capabilities to survive long past the point when we are all dead and buried, but I also can’t imagine this series ending any other way. It’s a story about violence begetting violence month after month, and how it manages to catch up to everyone in the end. I’m obviously spit-balling here and have no window into Lapham’s mind, but this is to say that while I can’t imagine this series is going to end happily, I am enjoying every minute of getting there.

Score: 5/5

Writer/Artist/Creator: David Lapham Publisher: Image/ El Capitan Price: $3.50 Release Date: 7/16/14 Format: Print/Digital