Review - Kill or Be Killed #1 (@ImageComics)

"This isn't how I imagined my life would be. Ever."

The things we do for survival are numerous. Difficult decisions are made on a daily basis that affect not only us but those around us as well and have a lasting impact on our lives. Some of those decisions made in the heat of the moment are a little tougher to walk back as Dylan learns in Kill or Be Killed #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips and colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser.

Dylan is a young man who is forced to kill bad people, and how he struggles to keep his secret as it slowly ruins his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones.

Brubaker essentially drops the reader right into the thick of Dylan's life as a newly minted killer. The brash opening immediately sets the tone for the remainder of the issue and Brubaker takes that time to give the reader some backstory to explain Dylan's current position in life. The way Brubaker approaches that backstory is something of a stream of conscience on the part of Dylan as the recounts to the reader how he got to the present. Most of the issue is pretty relatable in that regard until Brubaker brings in an idea from way out there that shifts the tone of the book pretty dramatically. It's not that the reveal doesn't make sense; rather, it requires the reader to readjust their expectations of the tale.

Phillips is no stranger to working alongside Brubaker and his talents add to the grittiness of Kill or Be Killed #1 . The characters sport a look that seems to speak to the shadier side of humanity with Phillips emphasizing harsh outlines throughout. These outlines are in stark contrast to the panels with white borders, drawing more attention to the action within said panels, arranged in a some pretty non-standard ways. The settings are equally as grim with Phillips focusing on dark alleys and apartment buildings to depict Dylan's deteriorating life. Breitwesier's colors are equally as morose, filling the book with an abundance of blacks and reds that remind the reader of the ugliness that accompanies wanton violence.

Kill or Be Killed #1 is an interesting beginning to what will likely be a somewhat chaotic tale. Dylan transforms himself from a down-on-his-luck graduate student into something more vicious to save himself and the transformation isn't going to be pretty. Brubaker's take is equally as ugly, but his pacing of the issue gives the reader plenty to take in as they struggle to understand his new life. Phillips' illustrations are grimy and messy to match Dylan's new personality. Kill or Be Killed #1 plays out pretty solidly and seems to want to be violent for sake of being violent.

Kill or Be Killed #1 is in stores now.