Dylan is getting himself into a mess. In Killed or Be Killed #4, he may have just made things much worse than they were. With our hero (if he can be called that), acting on impulse and research, he finds his next victim. It all seemed to make sense. He planned everything out. He was trying to help those poor Russian girls at the strip club that seemed to a part of some kind of trafficking or prostitution. Just take out the bad man, and free them. Right? Our main character gets a dose of reality in this issue, and a reminder that things don’t always go as planned. Ed Brubaker is having a good time putting the fish out of water Dylan through some situations he has never been in, both in his vigilante and personal life, and I can’t help but root for him to do the right thing. The problem with that is, I don’t always know what the right thing to do is, and neither does Dylan.
This series gives us very believable characters that feel real. I know that sounds odd, but I don’t feel like we get that enough in comics. Dylan is not some super witty or charming guy. He’s a normal person who has been thrown into something he’s not ready for. I think that is fair for most people. How would any of us do as a vigilante, if we had to choose who to kill? Dylan realizes how hard it is to choose as well, and goes through the tropes of television and movies. He imagines how a masked vigilante could gun down bad guys on the subway, and other methods that just wont work in the real world. He also discusses how drug dealers really aren’t bothering anyone, and are just selling drugs to the people who want them. This is some interesting social commentary from Brubaker, and it again makes this story feel that much more real.
Once Dylan deduces that a strip club is a good place to find bad people, he goes there and furthers his research. The problem is that he isn’t a detective, or anything even close, so he’s really just trusting his own thoughts, and preconceived notions. Of course this makes for an awesome story, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I am fearful for this man every time he enters one of these situations. I mean empathy is a good thing. How would you feel if you had to kill people to stop a demon from killing you? Yeah, see. Demons aren’t very nice.
Kira also plays a major role in this issue once again, as we see their relationship go to a new level. The only problem is Mason isn’t clued in on this, only complicating Dylan’s life more. At one point he references how hard it is living a double life, but really it’s almost as if he’s living a triple life. He’s juggling being a vigilante, a student and trying to blend in as normal, and then keeping his relationship with Kira a secret from his roommate. As I said with the last issue, I am sure Kira loves Dylan, but how much will be answered going forward. It is obvious she doesn’t want to end her relationship with Mason, as she finds excuses every time it is brought up. We get a touching moment between the two of them at the end of the book, as she cares for Dylan’s wounds. Maybe what they have is the true definition of love. Two people there for each other throughout the chaos of their lives. It may not be healthy, but neither of them are very healthy or stable people, especially right now.
Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Brettweiser on art are no stranger to a Brubaker book. The pulp crime style that we’ve seen from many of their other classics shines again in this issue. This book is raw, violent, and at times tragic, and the art follows all of those themes very well. If you have read another one of their books (and you should), you know what to expect, and that is high quality.
At this point is Dylan doing what the demon wants him to do? Or what he wants? In the end we get a massive cliffhanger with Kira going through illustrations from Dylan’s father. It is creepy, and awesome, and it makes me want the next issue right now.
Story: Ed Brubaker Art: Sean Phillips Art: Elizabeth Brettweiser
Story: 9.5 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Image provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review