Kill or be Killed, Vol. 4 by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A young man who puts on a mask and kills criminals because he thinks he’s been cursed by a demon ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Who could have seen that coming?
After Dylan has a meltdown in his personal life he’s been locked up and doped enough to keep him foggy, and it also seems like someone has taken his place on the outside as a masked vigilante killer getting headlines for murder. However, Dylan is still haunted by the idea of the demon who drove his killing spree because whether it was real or not he’s got plenty of evidence that the world is steaming pile of garbage and that maybe somebody should do something. And just because he’s locked up doesn’t mean that there’s not bad guys around he could do something about it….
If this was a Marvel or DC creations we’d go through an endless continuation of Dylan including revelation after revelation about his past and he’d probably die at some point and come back. With a story by Brubaker and Phillips we get an actual ending, and that’s part of what makes their stuff so great. With a conclusion we have consequences and themes, not just an infinite and increasingly pointless character.
I also admire how this story threads a tricky needle. It certainly isn’t a ridiculous Death Wish style fantasy about how one determined man with a gun can clean up the streets, but it’s also not a simplistic morality tale about how murder is wrong either. Dylan’s world view gets increasingly complex as he goes from a guy who thinks he’s killing to avoid his own death at the hands of demon to someone who is increasingly disgusted by a world that seems to get progressively worse by the minute thanks to the corruption of the basic systems that are supposed to protect us.
It’s a comic with a near perfect ending.
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