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Stray Bullets vol 4: Dark Days

Stray Bullets vol 4: Dark Days

Stray Bullets vol 4: Dark Days back

David Lapham


Page 45 Review by Stephen

In which we finally, unforgettably, come to the most horrific chapters of all in STRAY BULLETS which, given what's come before, is really saying something.

I've always described STRAY BULLETS as terrible things happening to terrified young people and nowhere is that truer than here. When I originally read these sequences over a decade ago I became increasingly worried about where this was heading but refused to believe that Lapham would actually dare go there. I remember desperately hoping even as it looked less and less likely that somehow the worst would be averted by an intervention or maybe I'd read it all wrong.

I hadn't.

You too may suspect what is coming when Bobby is shown those photographs, but nothing will prepare for what bubbles and builds and then bursts.

Thankfully you'll find out only once the ordeal is over, and it's a testament to Lapham's good judgement, mercy and restraint that he leaves those reveals to the police going through Ginny's improvised diary entries afterwards. Few would have thought to do that.

What I had forgotten, however, is how long Lapham leaves you in limbo before then, intercutting the episode with another Amy Racecar fantasy which is entirely apposite to what's happening to its author. Then we have Beth's seemingly interminable and hopeless search for Ginny whom she's supposed to be looking out for just as Ginny was supposed to be looking out young Bobby.

If this all sounds slightly evasive, I'm trying not to give anything away to those who may be new to STRAY BULLETS which I rate right up there with CRIMINAL.

To those who've at least read my previous reviews of the series, I'd remind you that everything is connected plus we go backwards and forwards in time, and here you will finally find out precisely why Joey was so frightened of car boots way back in the very first chapter of STRAY BULLETS VOL 1.

If you thought WATCHMEN was structurally sophisticated and SANDMAN so well thought through, well, they were. They are. But the seamless dovetailing throughout STRAY BULLETS which continues to this day - of episodes which happen earlier or later or at exactly the same time - is absolutely extraordinary. Dee and I were discussing just this weekend whether we thought Lapham had it all planned out in advance and we simply don't know. I don't know if he could have; but then if he didn't, I don't know how he does it.

The same level of control within each encounter itself is remarkable. I'm not sure if I could name any creator who plays so successfully with tension.

For a much more extensive overview, please see STRAY BULLETS UBER ALLES edition which collects the first five volumes in one. Volume five as a separate edition is still a few months off.