By Ryan Desaulniers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There are different levels of violence in murder, right? I mean, there’s a different intensity to pressing a button and a bomb dropping on a target versus bayonetting someone in the ribs. The first allows one to remain detached, while the other forces the attacker to be up close and personal. While the result is effectively the same — the death of another human being — the latter’s level of “personal” really makes a difference. In Kill or be Killed, we’ve seen Dylan murder, but it’s been clumsy, almost accidental, in spite his intentions; however, we see in issue eleven a new level to Dylan’s commitment to violence, one which honestly took me aback.
The opening to the first issue showed us what Dylan would become capable of: taking out a string of mafioso-looking goons with a sawed-off shotgun, methodically. If you as an audience member were wondering when we would see that version of Dylan, don’t worry, writer Ed Brubaker saw that coming and plays with our expectations with style. Brubaker makes comments on the narrative so that we can not forget that it is, indeed, a narrative which we are consuming. I know the old adage is to never trust the narrator, but at this point, with all of the playfulness and self-awareness with which Brubaker writes Dylan’s narrative voice, we have no choice but to trust him; he has us by the metaphorical balls.
But it is important that Brubaker take us back to the earliest moments, when we first saw Dylan be a “total badass” (Dylan’s words) because, thus far, we’ve only seen him as a “bumbling idiot who happens to get lucky a lot” (Dylan, again). Without that recap, it might not be as easy to appreciate the denoument here. After the cliffhanger of last issue, after all, one could wonder whether Dylan might give up the whole killing thing. Well, he does for a minute, until he overhears a Russian asking for him at Kira’s cafe.
What follows, after Dylan follows the perhaps-gangster outside and a brief interrogation, is this:
Severed jugular, at least. Compromised trachea, probably. Dead, but he’s got time to think about it. If you’ve ever taken the time to really sit down and wish harm on another person, even fantasize about killing them, you may have — like me — found the idea of killing with a knife too gruesome, even when indulging one’s darkest thoughts. Dylan just reached out and stabbed this man to death. This is the same Dylan who was barely able to shoot a hit-man in a gunfight, now bleeding someone out in the middle of NYC on Halloween. How is this happening, especially after his two months of murder-free clarity? Well, the narrative is progressing in the way it needs to, is how. This kill wasn’t about a demon which might be part of a psychological issue; this kill is about protecting someone he loves. This kill shows that Brubaker and Phillips know that when things get personal, so must the violence, and the levels have officially escalated.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?