Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Is everything all right, Dylan?"
"No... not really. But it will be."
It's the KILL OR BE KILLED finale from the creators of THE FADE OUT, FATALE etc, and if the penultimate chapter's cliffhanger is a narrative bombshell you couldn't possibly see coming, then the final-page punchline is a visual whose eyes will bore into your own so hard and so deep - meeting your gaze directly, unflinchingly - that I defy you to look away. For a full five minutes I studied those dense, shining shadows, sweeping black lines and broad colour brushstrokes, so bold that anything behind became even more ethereal. Then, almost as soon as I looked away to flick back through the preceding four pages which made so much sense, I had to return almost immediately.
I think that's the general idea with obsession.
And this all about obsession.
Up until now KILL OR BE KILLED has been the psychological self-examination of an educated young man with a gnawing sense of social justice but a fine line in convivial conversation as he descends into a surprisingly efficient mass murder spree.
That initial spree at least is all but over, though there's always room for one more, don't you think?
"Stairs are actually not that effective for killing people, in case you were wondering.
"Too many variables. You can never know for sure how someone's going to land...
"Or if they're going to break their neck."
You may have to step in and finish the business on foot.
"I get away with this, by the way."
The narrative is as charming as disarming as ever: even the chapter breaks (originally the ends to each monthly issue) add to the illusion of this being an off-the-cuff account.
"Shit, I completely forgot.
"We'll have to talk about that next time."
In KILL OR BE KILLED VOLUME 3.I wrote about the disconnect between Dylan's wretched preoccupations and the beauty which surrounds him which he, cruelly, has no mental access to, and it is only accentuated further on the first two pages here.
It's something that comics can do ever so well under the right creators: when the words and the pictures 'disagree'. Jon Klassen has made a career out of this for comedic, Young Readers purposes. This is tragic instead.
Look at the exquisite silver livery on these idyllic snow-swept scenes and the rapture being relished by those able to fully inhabit those landscapes by being in the moment and sharing between them its gift! Now read the words of a perceived grinding life and the fall of the world into geopolitical disorder. "Sad" doesn't begin to cover it. In volume three of KILL OR BE KILLED Dylan consciously castigated himself thus:
"I'd been so stupid... We're all so stupid all the time."
"We stop noticing our miracles."
Yet within that same volume he almost immediately failed to retain that self-knowledge. It wasn't wilful, it wasn't negligent. It was because he was trapped, in his own head and his immediate circumstances of needing to act or the love of his life would be dead. Now he is shackled once again, even further removed from this extraordinary, ordinary joy, and the windows through which he is looking are barred.
The cover may give you a clue, but only on reading this will you understand how he got himself sectioned. It has nothing to do with volume three whatsoever. This is an entirely new development, and, to begin with, Dylan is quite content to be locked up, for it means that the outside world should be safe from him.
It isn't. Nor is he, from what he has left behind him outside.
Expect Breitweiser blizzards so dense that they will all but obliterate your vision, which will give Dylan ample opportunity to talk about climate change, industry, government, and the war between wealth and accountability. It will also give the unexpected ample opportunity to sneak unseen upon the unwary.
Sorry...? Oh, you're halfway through this book and just remembered that sentence. You think I'm referring to that snow storm! Haha!
I've run out of time, but it's also worth studying all the different hair treatments throughout the series. Yes, hair! Dylan's mother's is completely different from the others' not only in style but in its method of rendition, far closer to Kira's. Phillips goes to great lengths to draw identifiable, individual strands of hair for both women and men, whereas Dylan's mum's is lifted by mousse to look like a meringue or Mr Whippy.
For far longer, more in-depth reviews, please see previous editions of KILL OR BE KILLED.
Sunday 14th October, 10-30am to 12-00 noon
Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser will be signing and sketching (and colouring?) for the first time ever together in Page 45's Georgian Room, upstairs in the Kendal Clock Tower at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2018.
They'll be joined by Jacob Phillips who's coloured the original graphic novel MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES written by Ed Brubaker & drawn by Sean Phillips, out on 10th October 2018 and on sale in our room at LICAF from 10am Saturday 13th. Learn more about Page 45's Lakes International Comic Art involvement here: http://www.page45.com/world/lakes-international-comic-art-festival/
For the signing itself (not for our room - entrance is free!) you'll need a day or weekend LICAF pass, please, which will get you into as many other events as you like: https://www.comicartfestival.com/buy-tickets?spektrix_bounce=true
Can't come? Page 45 will have a limited edition bookplate exclusive to Page 45 (not the common or garden one, but our very own!) free with each copy of MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES signed by Ed, Sean and Jacob, available after that weekend and guaranteed as long as you pre-order now!
Because they might all sell out at the signing.
You can even pre-order now and select "Collect In Kendal At LICAF 2018" as the 'shipping' method.