This latest volume of Stray Bullets keeps the mystery going this issue as the story switches over to Rose’s point-of-view. Right off the bat, writer and artist David Lapham drops us into an interview scene where Rose attempts to talk her way into a secretarial position only to leave jobless. Spotting Orson, something sparks in her mind and the majority of the issue focuses on her attempt to get Orson out from Beth and in her corner. Switching to Rose’s point-of-view is a great way for Lapham to progress the story’s plot while maintaining the mystery surrounding Orson and Beth’s ploy with Nina. Like Rose, we’re only provided snippets of dialogue between Orson, Nina, and Beth to mull over, and as the issue progresses there’s some uncertainty about what it is that they have said or done to dupe Rose and what useful information she actually has over them. For instance, early in her attempt to tail Orson, Rose finds him looking anxious as he talks on a payphone. Yet, we never find out for sure the purpose of the conversation, and why it would cause Orson such distress. Seeing Orson from Rose’s point-of-view, the reader recognizes the transformation Orson has made since his introduction when he first met Beth. Gone is the naïve high schooler, and in is his place is a guy who at least appears confident moving among Baltimore’s seedier elements.
Rose’s shock at Orson’s turn comes from a desire to leave her current life, viewing his innocence as a quality necessary of whatever heroic figure would get her away from Baltimore, and to New Orleans, or Florida. Without bringing attention to it through dialogue, Lapham uses the visuals to show how much Rose is the cause of much of her issues, rarely depicting her without a glass of alcohol when she’s indoors, altering the lettering with drooping letters and bubbles to imply her frequent intoxication. Especially effecting is the scene after her first day of tailing Orson where an exhausted Rose soaks her feet while her son Joey mixes her a cocktail and recounts his theft of a tiger statue. Her delusion grips her so tightly that she’s unable to recognize that her difficulties partly stem from her own insecurities about her worth. However, by issue’s end some part of felt compassion towards Rose as it becomes apparent she’s unknowingly now a pawn in Beth and Orson’s scheme, the two initiating a plan to use Rose’s crush on Orson to their own ends.
I don’t feel like there’s much more that I can say without repeating previous reviews. Lapham knocks it out with killer dialogue, pacing, and facial expressions like he always does, creating one of the most badass scenes when Beth lays one on Rose right after Rose opens the door. While the story continues to surprise me with each issue, it’s no longer a shocker when an issue of Stray Bullets floors me. Lapham could do with a stinker or two to give me some new material to write about, but instead I’ll bow out of my reviews for Stray Bullets and keep on reading it with all of you. Yes, even you person who has yet to pick up a single issue. Big mistake, dude. Big