The opening act from new title, Kill or be Killed, truly left me excited about the direction this dark, gritty story was taking. In fact you can find my thoughts on issue one right here.
The only problem when the talent behind the comic deliver such a stonking opener, is that of again reaching a bar that they have already set so high.
So, it’s with a tinge of disappointment, but only a tinge mind you, that I have to report that issue two doesn’t quite scale the same dizzy heights as the previous one.
But first things first, let’s recap.
Kill or be Killed is the story of mid-twenties student and perpetual gloom merchant, Dylan. Travelling through life with few friends, failed suicide attempts, and unrequited love in his luggage has pushed him once again to the brink. He stands atop a building and readies himself for a plunge to death. He fails again, but is swept up in euphoria that he walked away and deems to turn his life around. Only this time he pays a hefty price for his failure to die. Visited by a Shadowy Demon, Dylan is given an ultimatum, he must kill one bad person every month as payment for having tried to end his own life, and if he fails to do so, it is he who will die.
It’s a decent premise that throughout issue #1 was elevated by a good flow, dark art, and some great writing.
Now we get to talk issue #2, and in all honesty, it left me feeling my initial excitement and intrigue had been clouded by a little boredom creeping in. What we get is Dylan talking us through his first kill, the reasons he chose the victim, and how he found the weapon to carry out the task at hand. It does still prove an entertaining read on the whole, it’s just that having opened at a decent pace where the storytelling allowed for depth and backstory but never dawdled, it now feels like we’re dragging our feet over some seriously drawn out pages.
I still enjoyed the comic, I still love the premise at play, I like that we were given more layers of flesh to our main protagonist, I love that the artwork beautifully mirrors the darkness that permeates every detail in the story, and I love that the writers have pulled no punches and are exploring some genuinely dark corridors of humanity. But, on the back of such a strong opening issue, it all just felt a little flat, or at least flatter than it should have.
Having said that, I must also add that I remain excited about where the story goes next. I can understand the writers wanting to prolong the build-up and execution of the first kill, I can see the value in painting ever more detail into the backstory and the deep dilemma faced in the present day for Dylan. I did also think however that having intricately detailed the build-up, the actual moment that Dylan committed to the act of murder was all a little too easy for him. We get an insight into how he couldn’t ever use a knife on someone, he couldn’t use bare hands, and that he thought running someone over might be tricky. Yet, when the moment arrives he appears to take a life, albeit of a true scumbag, with relative ease.
Kill or be Killed is still a great read. I can accept that perhaps my own expectations have played a part in my enjoyment of issue #2 and that further read-throughs may even soften my thoughts. I will stay buckled in for the ride, I’m enjoying the story, in Dylan we have a character it’s fairly easy to emphasise and sympathise with, and the pages perfectly capture the tone of the read. I only hope issue #3 does a tad less foot dragging than this one did.
Powerful and dark, but ultimately slightly ponderous to read sums up my take on issue #2 of Kill or be Killed. Perhaps the bar was set too high in the opening shot, or maybe this is a minor dip in what will prove to be one hell of a story. I can only hope it’s the latter.