Kill or Be Killed (2016) #16

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Well, writer Ed Brubaker is not overcomplicating matters with a last-minute reveal. He’s just stumbling along, as usual, the comic suddenly with far less momentum as Dylan’s in a mental hospital.

The slowing down makes sense—after confessing to being the vigilante and finding out there’s still a red-masked vigilante in New York (a copycat, Dylan’s sure), the doctors put him on tranquilizers. He’ll get off the tranquilizers eventually—the passage of time does matter to the bigger story, but Brubaker doesn’t address it—and realize there are bad guys even in the hospital he can take out.

There’s a lot of action, quite a bit of Dylan’s head being disproportionate to his body—I swear, if that detail’s addressed, Kill or Be Killed might be brilliant—and a lot of treading water. Brubaker’s trying to wait out the issue. It’s not a bridging issue because those involve movement from A to B; there’s no movement here, just continued braking.

The end’s simultaneously cryptic and not. Is Brubaker going to try for a Fight Club ending? It’s not impossible. He wrote it for a movie adaptation, so he had to be thinking second act reveal, and we’re closing in.

I’m trying to remember the last time the comic didn’t feel a combination of stale and desperate, like an Entenmann’s coffee cake on remainder. I think it’s been six to eight issues. It’s been ages.

Sean Phillips is fine with everyone else’s head size this issue, which is a plus.

The issue’s other problem is its genericness. It’s a series of mental hospital tropes from other media; there are inanely written psychiatrist sessions, sad visits with the family (all done in montage to avoid character development), and even Dylan’s new target is a trope. In a better comic, it’d be embarrassing. In this one… I just hope Brubaker doesn’t finish too badly.

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