Subway Shorts – Committed

The latest arc of Kill Or Be Killed kicks off with a change of scenery for Dylan, after he discovered that the Demon who’s been urging him to kill is a family legacy.

Kill Or Be Killed 15
Written by Ed Brubaker 
Art by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser 

The series about a vigilante killing bad people in New York City at the urging of a demon took an interesting turn with the latest issue, as we find Dylan committed to a psychiatric institution. The story has slowly been turning from a gritty crime noir with fantasy elements into a psychological thriller for a few issues now, and it makes a full leap into it with this issue.

Learning that the demon that’s been terrorizing him also haunted his father and half-brother weighed heavily on Dylan’s mind. When he finally decided to tell his girlfriend about it, to ease the burden he’d been carrying, the demon got the better of him, leading him to attack his roommate, putting our hero under surveillance and then into an institution to assess his mental state.

Again, Dylan is wary about talking about the demon, and when he finally opens up, when he admits to his group that he’s the vigilante in the red mask that’s been killing people in New York City, he gets hit with a bombshell. It can’t be him, the doctor tells him, because the killer struck while Dylan has been institutionalized. That’s the kind of information that can completely change the scope of the series.

It’s an intriguing way to turn the story on its head and keep the reader guessing as to what kind of twists and turns are coming next. Dylan has said from the very beginning that he is an unreliable narrator, and while we’ve watched the cracks in his armor form, this is the first time we’re really left questioning what we’ve read so far. Is this all the workings of a damaged mind? Or is the demon continuing to whittle away at Dylan’s willpower and his sanity?

Even Sean Phillips’ art reflects a bit of a change in Dylan. Here, he seems older than in the previous issues, more haggard and beaten down by what’s happening to him. And as Dylan’s surroundings go from New York City to a more pastoral scene around the institution, Phillips gets a chance to draw brighter scenes in snow-filled fields. And his work with Dylan’s fellow patients is, as always, top-notch as Phillips shows off new facial expressions and body language to go with the new surroundings.

If you aren’t reading this book yet, the start of this new arc maybe isn’t a great place to jump on, but there are three collected editions already out in the wild, and you should definitely check them out.

Adding to the excitement is the discussion in Brubaker’s message to fans in the back of the book about Kill Or Be Killed’s potential future as a feature film, as John Wick Chapter 2 director Chad Stahelski is attached to the project along with screenwriter Dan Casey. Now is definitely the time to get on board with this story.