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. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Ryan D: Maybe you were one of those people, like I was, who trudged through all six seasons of the TV series LOST, debating what was really going on underneath the framework narrative, listening to countless fan theories and devising your own. Perhaps the most popular of these theories was that the characters in the show were all in Purgatory, which show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse refuted until they were blue in the face. The tricky thing about fan theories, though, is that when the finale of the series did include a narrative reveal revolving around a state of limbo, many audience members felt disappointed and off-put. They had assumed and hoped that the creators would have devised a finish more surprising than what every Joe and Jill had guessed back in season one, and that the clues given to support this ending were feints and decoys, not the actual resolution. In a similar way, the creative team of Kill or Be Killed, in its tenth issue, confronts the fan theory which has been on everyone’s mind since the first issue: the demonic force which serves as a catalyst for Dylan’s violent turn might by a by-product of a mental condition. While some readers might be anxious about exploring the most obvious of possible explanations of Dylan’s actions, the deftness of writer Ed Brubaker and his visual team of Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser keeps this pseudo-reveal exciting and the narrative fascinating. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Kill Or Be Killed 9, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
The best-laid plans of mice and men
Often go awry
Robert Burns, To A Mouse
Drew: I use this epigraph a lot on this site. It’s an appealing quote, both because of its sentiment and its popularity (bastardized “translations” to English aside), but also because plans going wrong is such a ubiquitous source of drama. We’ve all had something fall apart in spite of our best efforts, which makes seeing it in fiction tragically relatable, even if our plans (and how they go wrong) are more banal than we might encounter in fiction. It’s probably a bit too generous to say that Dylan’s plans were ever the “best-laid,” but we still recognize the panic that comes when they go awry. This issue pushes him ever closer to completely losing control, though he manages to just barely hang on. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Bitch Planet 10, Hadrian’s Wall 6, Kill Or Be Killed 8, Lumberjanes 37, and X-O Manowar 2. Also, we’re discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 9 on Tuesday and Black Monday Murders 5 and Old Guard 3 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading →
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Star Wars: Poe Dameron 12, East of West 32, Kill or Be Killed 7, and Sex Criminals 17. Also, we discussed Archie 18 on Monday, and we’ll be discussing American Gods: Shadows 1 on Tuesday, and Injection 11 on Wednesday so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Kill Or Be Killed 5, originally released January 18th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
A bad workman always blames his tools.
Drew: People don’t like to accept responsibility for their failures. If there’s anything else that can take the blame, it probably will. Of course, there’s always something that can take the blame — even absent tools, we can blame vague forces like “office politics” for holding us back. Indeed, when there are no more tangible forces to pin our failures on, we’ll will sooner make up concepts like fate than hold ourselves accountable. As with any tool blaming, that equation is flipped when things are going well — our successes aren’t the result of outside forces or inanimate objects, but our own effort and ingenuity. Taken to the extreme, that illusion can utterly disorient our ability to judge our own actions; if we can effectively do no wrong the very notion of “wrong” loses all meaning. This is the precipice Dylan finds himself on in Kill Or Be Killed 5, as he attempts to reconcile his actions with his own sense of morality. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Kill Or Be Killed 3, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: Narrative modes in comics are a particular fascination of mine, as the visual “narrator” isn’t necessarily tied to any of the modes we understand in prose — indeed, while comics may have an explicit narrator in the text, the visual storytelling isn’t necessarily tied to the perspective of that narrator. Film may be a better analogue, because the visual storytelling can similarly be divorced from, say, voiceover narration, but I’d argue that such explicit narration is FAR more common in comics than film. Point is: narrative modes are complicated in comics, yet are rarely remarked upon. Unless, of course, we’re talking about a comic by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, in which case, I struggle to talk about anything but the narration. I’ve never really been able to put my finger on why their use of narration draws my attention in this way, but Kill Or Be Killed 3 reveals that the idiosyncrasy may be more with their visual narration than their textual one. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan D. are discussing Kill Or Be Killed 1, originally released August 3rd, 2016.
Spencer: Maybe I’m just sheltered, but even at 29 years of age, I have trouble wrapping my head around the concept of people killing other people. I obviously understand that it happens, but there’s a difference between accepting that and actually being able to put yourself in the headspace to understand being capable of such a thing. As much as I may dream of justice in such situations, I’m equally baffled by the people who are actually able to fight for it, be they police or simply someone out for revenge; I can’t even imagine taking a life to save my own, much less purposely killing someone, no matter how evil they are. What pushes somebody to that point, allows them to take such a drastic step? That’s one of the primary questions explored in Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweizer’s newest collaboration, Kill or be Killed, which opens with its protagonist, Dylan, working as a Punisher-esque vigilante, before rewinding the clock to see how he became one in the first place. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Velvet 13, originally released February 3rd, 2016.
Drew: I wince whenever someone asks me if I can play chess. I certainly understand the rules of the game, but I feel like that makes me a chess player in as much as understanding the mechanics of applying paint to canvas makes me a painter. That is, the actual playing of chess lies not in my rudimentary grasp of what moves are allowable, but in the nuance of applying those moves towards a goal. Real chess players have so internalized those rules, they can plan several moves ahead, and the strategy ultimately revolves around forcing their opponent into moves they can anticipate. This is exactly the kind of game Velvet has been playing with ARC-7 for most of this series, and she’s damn good at it. But what if the rules she had internalized weren’t the rules of the game at all? That’s the situation she finds herself in this month, as Damian Lake proves to be even more of a wild card than she ever imagined. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Fade Out 12, originally released January 6th, 2016.
But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
George Orwell, 1984
Drew: I remember reading these words for the first time in high school and thinking they expressed the bleakest sentiment I could imagine. To me, Winston’s deep, sincere submission to Big Brother represented the darkness of Orwell’s cynicism far more than anything O’Brien threatens him with. In my mind, Winston’s pretense of submission in the first two books was preferable to the effective lobotomized state the novel ends with, but that’s only because his secret life held relatable pleasures. What if, instead, his secret life was filled only with turmoil and guilt? What if choosing to submit was worse than having it thrust upon you? This is the reality Charlie finds himself in at the end of The Fade Out 12, an ending that might actually be bleaker than that of 1984. Continue reading →