Kill or be Killed 14: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Desaulniers

Kill or be Killed 14

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

Anton Chekhov

Drew: I feel like we tend to talk about Chekhov’s Gun backwards: we often frame it as “a gun introduced in the first chapter must go off in the third,” but that “must” kind of scrambles the causality — guns don’t go off in narratives because they’ve been introduced; they’re introduced because they need to go off. If the gun doesn’t go off, it’s as irrelevant to the narrative as the rings of Saturn. It’s an essential concept for narrative efficiency, but my awareness of it undoubtedly influences my own understanding of what a story is. While a child may think of a story as “everything that happens to the characters between the beginning and the end” (I know I did), anyone familiar with Chekov’s Gun must recognize that a good story is, at the very least least, pared down to only the relevant events transpiring between the beginning and the end. It’s a notion that assures us that whatever we’re reading is important, which in turn provides some clues about what the narrative finds important. 14 issues in, one might think that we’d already have a great handle on what Kill or be Killed finds important, but this issue managed to surprise me with the details it chose to focus on. Continue reading

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Kill Or Be Killed 5

kill-or-be-killed-5Today, 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.

Traditional

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

Kill Or Be Killed 3

kill-or-be-killed-3

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

Kill Or Be Killed 1

kill or be killed 1

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