Publisher: Image Comics (April 9, 2019)
Softcover, 248 pages
Collecting issues 25 through 32 of the series. Stray Bullets never fails to disappoint. Just as the story of Orson, Nina, and Beth on the run was beginning to become stale, the narrative veers across the line to focus on the invalid Kretchmeyer - how many times is this man going to be beaten up? - traveling with Beth’s mother, who has suffered a stroke and been tossed away by her husband, and Kretchmeyer’s newly-found junkie brother.
Things are moving to an end for Orson and company, the original series picks up their story and connects it with Virginia Applejack’s in the summer of 1982, and the story is getting closer and closer to that date. Which is why I believe the narrative will shift full time to Kretchmeyer and company, while Spanish Scott and Orson get murdered out West. Which leaves me to wonder, how many times are we gonna see a guy like Monster or Kretchmeyer beaten up, only to keep pursuing Beth, only to be tricked again by Beth, which they allow because they are so in love with her? It’s starting to become repetitive.
Character development galore in these issues, We see Orson go off the wall with his alcoholism. Nina gets more sucked into drugs. The two characters which are developed the most are Kretchmeyer and Beth. More of Kretchmeyer’s disturbing past is revealed - how he executed his own parents, and weird sort of family he tried to build around Beth and her criminal confidants. Beth’s anger and hard shell envelopes everyone around her - to her detriment. Beth’s background forced her to push everyone away, to seek constant thrills in order to divert her dark thoughts and emotions before they overwhelm her - which will eventually lead to her downfall. The minute things slow down, she pushes people away. Afraid to be hurt and afraid to love.
Only two points of contention with this book. The first is that the Amy Racecar\Lil B’ story is the weakest part of the series. Once again it was a road bump that needed to be gotten over, rather than an enjoyable story. Things feel as if they are coming to a head (or at least they should be) and the fantasy stories are just in the way. Secondly, certain sections of the art felt rushed and much more sketchy than normal. This didn’t detract from the story per se, but there was a noticeable dip in quality.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.