Review - Stray Bullets: Killers #1

"Haven't touched on yet but I've seen lots."

Contending with stray bullets is not a good problem to have to deal with. Typically, they're accompanied by things that are a bit more sinister and threaten the seemingly idyllic setting one is used to. In Stray Bullets: Killers #1 from Image Comics, the comfort of suburbia is shattered by reality. The issue is written and illustrated by David Lapham.

Eli Goldberg does what teenage boys tend to do: huddle around hastily scribbled drawings of women and puffing out their chests. His father is a carpet salesman who's a class act himself, visiting a local strip club quite frequently. Fortunately for Eli, sneaking into the club is simple enough thanks to his dad's frequent visits, but when a tragedy hits pretty close to home for Eli, he realizes that there are bigger things to worry about in life. And Stray Bullets fans will recognize an old friend in Spanish Scott.

Lapham doesn't miss a beat in Stray Bullets: Killers #1. He creates a world that focuses on the minutia of suburbia that ends up being subverted by the violence at a local strip club. Eli's tale starts off as being just boys being stereotypical boys, but becomes something much more adult very quickly, with Eli getting a rather harsh lesson in what it means to be an adult. The book definitely isn't for everyone, as the bulk of it does take place a strip club, but Lapham's themes still hold up regardless. He does a fantastic job contrasting the reality of the strip club with the boys glorifying it for one reason, offering up an ongoing look at two sides of the suburban coin.

Lapham also handles the art and relies on a familiar black and white. The look really helps sell the overall concept of the book as well and underscore the emotion that comes with the degradation that comes with working at a strip club. Considering the rather simplistic, hand-drawn feel of the book, Lapham manages to convey a lot of emotion through the characters' facial expressions and actions. The panel layout also makes the book feel like an older newspaper strip, with panels stacked on and beside one another to help the story move along at a good pace. And there are a lot of panels crammed into the book as well, ensuring that Lapham gets his entire story across to the reader.

Stray Bullets: Killers #1 is familiar territory to those familiar with the property. Lapham doesn't pull any punches when showing off the seedy underbelly of suburbia, trading a rather dull, day-to-day with a more exciting (yet shadier) day-to-day for others. The book is very violent and doesn't hesitate when it comes to showing that violence, regardless of whether or not younger eyes are looking. There are parts of the book that many readers can relate to (hopefully not the more violent parts), as we all have some small town sensibilities about us in some way or another. Stray Bullets: Killers #1 will be familiar to fans of the series, but it no less accessible to new readers of the property.

Stray Bullets: Killers #1 hits stores March 12 with interiors below.