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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Kill Or Be Kill Vol. 2 (Crime) (Graphic Novel)

by Ed Brubaker  (Author), Sean Phillips (Artist)  
Publisher: Image Comics (August 15, 2017) 
Softcover, 176 pages 

Collecting issues 5 through 10 of the limited series. The second volume keeps on at the same pace as the first with an underlying dread that the protagonist is marching slowly towards his own destruction. Once again, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips create a compelling story which is almost impossible to put down. Well, not impossible, but I sure didn’t want to.   
As we remember from the previous volumea depressed twenty-something drunkenly attempts suicide by jumping off his apartment building. Miraculously, he survives only to be haunted by a demon that claims the hero owes payment for his life. One person a month must be killed at the main character’s hands or else the protagonist himself will die. He resists until the very last day, growing sicker and sicker, until he caves. 
Like Dexter, the killer decides to “do some good” with his affliction and only take out criminals. The action ramps up. Despite his best efforts, a pattern of his kills emerges and an overzealous detective manages to shame the city into creating a task force to track this “masked vigilante” down. On top of this, the Russian mob is looking into the deaths of one of their own and is hot on the main characters trail. Leading to a bloody and tragic conclusion.  

Again, the story plays on the overall ambiguity of the demon. Is it a product of the protagonist’s mental illness or truly a representative of the underworld? This is compounded when the killer discovers some of his father’s old artwork, one’s he did shortly before he too committed suicide (only he succeed, unlike his son). In it he sees representations of the same demon that is afflicting him. Coincidence? Insanity? Or a family curse? I have no idea just yet, but can’t wait to find out.  
Like the first volume, the violence is not inherent on every page. The main character is a reluctant killer, but does not hesitate to defend himself. Thus each of the violent episodes is memorable and sticks out, unlike many other violent comics where there is so much gunfire and death that it all blurs together into one big bloody free-for-all.  
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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