Kill or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Kill or Be Killed is a series from Image Comics that was released in August 2016 and ran for 20 issues and ended in June 2018. The creators of this series, are our co-host Alex’s favorite creative team in all of comics: Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips. As usual, we offer a deep dive one trade paperback at a time into the series. But wait, there is a twist! For the first time ever, our co-host Mike will be reading along with the audience. He has no future knowledge of what later issues hold and so he’ll be guessing right along with you!
Creator Spotlight: Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
In this episode, Mike and Alex take a look at Alex’s favorite creative team in all of comics- writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips. They discuss the duo’s long history of incredible comic work, both separately and together, how noir storytelling infuses all of their collaborations, and sell you on why the vigilante crime-noir book Kill Or Be Killed was their choice for the next deep-dive discussion on the podcast.
Enter the world of Brubaker and Phillips by finding Kill Or Be Killed at your local comic shop or public library and be here next week as the guys dive right into volume 1!
Kill or Be Killed Volume 01
“It’s so easy for the guys in those old vigilante movies to find their targets… they just walk around waiting to get mugged. Or they listen for screams and arrive just in time. In real life, it’s not like that.”
In the first episode of Storied Arcs Season 4, Mike and Alex take a peak inside the mind of a vigilante killer as they dive into Volume 1 (issues 1-4) of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip’s modern crime noir classic, Kill Or Be Killed. They discuss what the book has to say about the state of the world and the systems that govern it and what that has to say about the nature of vigilantism and who is empowered to enact justice if those systems are inherently unjust. Oh, and something about a demon that may or may not be real. Who can say.
Like our previous seasons, we aren’t spoiling anything about the story beyond the trade collection we’re covering that week. This is particularly notable this season because Mike is reading through Kill Or Be Killed *for the first time* as we are recording so he has no other choice in the matter!
Kill or Be Killed Volume 02
“I don’t believe in fate, but you can’t deny that things in life sometimes fall together like there actually is some big cosmic plan at work. Which would suck for about 95 percent of us, right?”
In Volume 2 (issues 5-10), Brubaker and Phillips begin to expand the world of Kill Or Be Killed and Mike and Alex are here to break it all down in this episode. They revisit the idea of fate and destiny vs. self determinism (something of a semi-recurring theme in the books they’ve been covering) and explore how it factors into the motivations and justifications for a vigilante killer. They look at the real-world parallels that are referenced in this volume and also discuss how the broadening of the story beyond the viewpoint of its narrator effects our understanding of how reliable what we’re being told and shown really is.
As previously stated, we won’t be spoiling anything about the story beyond the trade collection we’re coving that week because we want to preserve the experience for those those reading through the comic for the first time, just like Mike!
Kill or Be Killed Volume 03
“Fear is a weird thing. Sometimes it’s a survival mechanism… like the instinct that made our ancestors flee from saber-tooth tigers. But a lot of the time it’s the handcuffs that we put on ourselves.”
In this episode, Mike and Alex discuss the changing motivations of the vigilante killer and examine how that alters our perception of what he’s doing. Does the “why” matter at all if the end result either way is someone going around killing people, even if those people are perceived as being the bad guys? And what does it say about someone when they realize they might actually be good at being a vigilante killer? Kill Or Be Killed Volume 3 (issues 11-14) asks these questions of the reader and the guys are here to break it all down.
This is the penultimate volume of the comic and there are no spoilers in this episode for the final arc. We’ve come too far to ruin things now for new readers (and Mike!).
Kill or Be Killed Volume 04
“How did it all get so bad? And when did we lose hope that it might ever get better… instead of worse?”
In the final episode of Storied Arcs Season 4, Mike and Alex are here to wrap up Brubaker and Phillips’ instant-classic Kill Or Be Killed with Volume 4 (issues 15-20). How does it all end, what does it all mean, and does any of it ultimately even matter. Can a book be pessimistic and hopefully at the same time? If the world is so broken and terrible, what’s there to be optimistic about? The guys grapple with the dichotomy presented in the story and try to make sense of it all (the comic, not the whole world; that’d be asking a bit much).
We thank you all once again for listening along through another season of Storied Arcs. We hope you enjoyed diving into the world of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips and definitely recommend reading any and all of their other collaborations; you never know, we might circle back around and cover one of them in a future season.
Please keep sending in your questions and comments about Kill Or Be Killed, or any of the books we’ve covered so far, and we’ll see you again soon for the next season of Storied Arcs!