blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Kill or Be Killed (2016) #4

The most unrealistic thing about Kill or Be Killed is Dylan isn’t a white supremacist. Like, historically speaking. Also, his classes in graduate school. Much of this issue’s about him trying to find his next target, starting with a subway fantasy about taking out a couple punks, but then it turns out he’s just watching too much Death Wish 3 or whatever.

Okay, Dylan watching Death Wish movies is also somewhat unrealistic.

But after the subway shootout fantasy, he opines you can’t just kill Black drug dealers in parks because it’d be racist; besides, they’re just a cog in the wheel. To find bigger fish, he’s got to do research, which means reading newspapers and police blotters. Dylan’s a copaganda-invested vigilante. It leads him to a strip club where he’s sure the girls are human trafficked from Russia, so he’s going to kill their handler.


At the same time, his affair with Kira has accelerated, leading to their content-less soap opera babbling about her boyfriend (and his roommate) taking place while they’re both naked. The roommate’s getting suspicious because Dylan keeps going out every night from 2 to 4 am. This is why The Punisher lives alone.

Overall, it’s an okay issue (relatively speaking). Writer Ed Brubaker tries really, really hard to rationalize Dylan through his narration. It’s not entirely successful, and it seems vaguely half-assed, but at least Brubaker’s trying to be thorough. But it reads like his notes on a project, not a finished project. Kill or Be Killed needs an editor, not Eric Stephenson’s “editorial supervision.”

Artist Sean Phillips gets in some great New York City street scenes, but he’s also got his scale problems. Lots of Dylan’s head looking oversized for his body—in panels where the other people have standard-sized heads—but this issue also has Phillips drawing other characters awkwardly small. Seriously, the whole thing could be explained if it were Dylan’s fantasy he’s playing out with his action figures.

There’s a biggish reveal at the end, along with a wrench in his relationship with Kira; neither are particularly engaging, but at least they’re dramatic blips in a series so awkwardly otherwise without them.

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