Kill or Be Killed (2016) #18

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Writer Ed Brubaker, apparently unknowingly, cracks the Kill or Be Killed conundrum this issue. How could he tell the series and have it work? Individual issues about characters. Without Dylan’s terrible narration, obviously. Got to get rid of the narration.

But this issue’s a return to detective Lily Sharpe. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as good as the first Lily Sharpe issue, which was a very traditional police procedural but with more personality than the series had been exhibiting. This is a very traditional police procedural with a twist with the tepid personality the book’s been showing for ages now.

Lily is investigating the death of the vigilante, who Dylan and the reader know isn’t the real killer. Unless we think Dylan somehow astral projected and created a double, which is the opening narration topic. It’s eye-widening bad. Brubaker actually gets away with the twist at the end, he actually manages to do some effective narrative dodging, but he’s starting from one of his pits on the book. Brubaker does seem to understand Dylan’s a dipshit, but he doesn’t seem to understand reading a dipshit’s narration, issue after issue, is exasperating. It never improves.

Then again, nothing ever improved on Kill or Be Killed. It stopped hemorrhaging a while ago, but it’s been a dull, steady bleed since. And artist Sean Phillips is done trying. The art this issue is… not good. The more time spent reading the comic, the worse the art will be. Phillips barely quarter-asses it. What’s less than quarter-assing? Eighth-assing? There’s some eighth-assing. Lily’s partner, who we’ve never met, looks like Robert De Niro half the time, then Sam Elliot the other half of the time. Dylan’s mom looks like a Hitchcock villain. So there’s less than eighth-assing. There’s teenie-assing. It’s so sad to see Phillips churn this out.

This issue tells the story of the imposter vigilante, then how Lily will bring it back to Dylan.

I imagine the next two issues will go wild, desperate, and disappointing places.

However, to go out on a high point… excellent pacing this issue. Brubaker knows how to write this issue, which brings it around to how to do the series better—issues focusing on the people involved with the story. There’s a more extensive cast than it seems, with varied connections, and it would’ve avoided the awful mishandling of the protagonist.

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