In the past, writers wrote superheroes as perfect beings. They represented the good in humanity and instilled justice throughout society. However, as comic publication moved forward, writers realized that what readers want most is complexity. Therefore, comics began developing more realistic heroes who had their own flaws and were capable of failure. Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 is the epitome of this development.
The Plot of Kill or be Killed Vol. 2
Dylan’s struggles continue during Kill or
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issues #5-10 Overview
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 holds issues #5-10. This section will review each issue individually. Warning, though, spoilers will be ahead…
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #5
Issue #5 of Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 takes place a few months after the events in issue #4. Since then, Dylan trains his body by learning self-defense. Also, the issue reveals that Kira breaks up with Mason. While Dylan is happy over this, his relationship with Kira becomes rocky.
Later, Dylan runs into his ex-girlfriend, Daisy. While catching up at a restaurant, he meets his next target. After stalking him for days, learning that he visits the same restaurant frequently, Dylan corners him inside the restaurant’s bathroom. However, he is unaware that there are two police officers in the same restaurant.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #5 Commentary
This issue portrays that Dylan is now numb to taking other people’s lives. He barely hears the Demon’s voice anymore, so he is acting on his own sense of justice. Gradually, Dylan comes to terms with the fact that he is becoming more in-tune with his vigilante side.
This causes him to develop a sense of invincibility. Unfortunately, this form of narcissism in vigilantism is what leads people to slip-ups.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #6
The sixth issue of Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 shows Dylan cornered by two police officers in the restaurant. Luckily, he manages to escape after firing at the cops and leaves through a back window. After escaping, he feels incredible for evading the officers. However, unbeknownst to Dylan, his killings begin to leave a pattern that Detective Lily Sharpe notices.
This issue introduces Sharpe as a looked-down-upon detective in her department. Astonishingly, she is the first and only person to make a connection between Dylan’s random attacks. While she investigates his crimes, Dylan lowers his guard and meets Daisy again.
He is unaware that Detective Sharpe and a Russian mafia, connected to his attack in issue #4, are closing in.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #6 Commentary
In other comics, the hero always makes sure justice prevails over all else. However, Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 issue # 6 portrays that these selfless individuals do not exist in reality. People in real life have egos.
They possess the need to feel better than others in some way. (Or want to compensate for what they lack.) Dylan does this through his vigilantism. Unsurprisingly, this egocentric attitude is what places him at risk.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #7
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 issue #7 is a Kira-centered story. It begins in a psychologist’s office where she unravels her past and current feelings. Then, the story transitions to Kira trying to confront said problems in real life. These obstacles range from her complicated relationship with her mother to her friendship with Dylan.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #7 Commentary
While this issue does not focus on vigilantism, it showcases the benefits of seeking psychiatric help. Issue #7 conveys a sense of vulnerability present in everyone. Expertly, it ventures deep within Kira’s psyche and portrays how real life events can negatively affect one’s self-worth.
As Kira visits her psychologist, she allows herself to vent her frustrations and legitimize her feelings. This introspective chapter fleshes out Kira by showing she is not perfect which is relatable.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #8
Issue #8 follows Dylan dealing with the consequences of his overconfidence in issue # 6. Unsurprisingly, the city is swarming with police after his vigilante persona becomes public. He worries about being able to find his next target before the end of the month to prevent his death.
However, during this time, Dylan performs some soul-searching. While waiting, he analyzes his feelings in regards to his father, Kira, and faces his personal loneliness.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #8 Commentary
This is another introspective chapter, but it focuses on Dylan instead of Kira. Since he is unable to perform any vigilantism, Dylan has no way to distract himself from his internal demons. Previous issues mention his rocky relationship with his father but not to this extent.
Therefore, readers see just how much of an impact his father had on him. Dylan also sees how much Kira assists him in overcoming his loneliness. This becomes especially clear to him during this rocky point in their relationship.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #9
Issue #9 begins with Dylan meeting up with his friend/drug-dealer, Rex, to re-stock his medication. However, unbeknownst to him, the Russian mafia compromises Rex. They use their connections throughout the city to piece together the vigilante’s possible identity. Dylan is their prime suspect.
Almost immediately, he has a shoot out with the member holding them hostage. Sadly, while trying to kill the Russian mafia member, Dylan injures Rex. Later on, he drops Rex off at the hospital while dressed as his vigilante persona. Then, he leaves to interrogate the mafia member in the forest.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #9 Commentary
This issue represents the climax to Dylan’s “I-am-invincible” arc. Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 begins with Dylan feeling immune to any retaliation from police or mafia. However, issue #9 corrects that attitude by showing him that, behind the scenes, people were already on his tail.
His idea of being both judge and executioner leads to someone he cares about getting hurt. Unfortunately, this also opens up the reality that other people he cares about, like Kira, are possible targets as well.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #10
Issue #10 of Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 shows detectives recovering evidence in the woods after Dylan’s interrogation. Immediately, Detective Sharpe suspects something is amiss with the vigilante because of his actions at the hospital. Unsurprisingly, the police department ignore her and go in a different direction with their investigation.
Elsewhere, Dylan is coming to terms with his ego contributing to Rex’s fate. Also, the Demon appears again after a long time. Dylan tells him to never return. Then, he gives up his mantel of vigilantism and leaves the city. However, when he returns, Dylan realizes that there is more to the Demon than meets the eye.
Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 Issue #10 Commentary
The last issue in Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 serves as time for Dylan to perform introspection. With how egocentric Dylan was in the beginning of this volume, this issue provides him with a dose of reality. He is able to return to earth from his high pedestal and really think about his actions.
Sadly, not many comics provide their heroes with moments like this. Most series simply show their heroes being flawless, never making a mistake they need to ponder. However, Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 shows the reality of posing as a vigilante in modern society. Realistically, people get hurt if one is killing without forethought. Especially, when they kill someone with the resources to pursue a vendetta.
Artwork of Kill or be Killed Vol. 2
Sean Phillips continues to capture the dark atmosphere of Kill or be Killed in volume 2. Vividly, he illustrates civilian life in both its normal and worst state. When he draws Dylan in his vigilante outfit, he makes him feel out of place within his surroundings. This enhances the reality of how vigilantism has no proper place in modern society. However, while Phillips succeeds in creating an atmosphere in Kill or be Killed Vol. 2, there is room for improvement.
Phillips excels in creating backgrounds and action sequences; however, his ability to draw people hits or misses in volume 2. While a majority of his illustrations are well done, he struggles in quality control. Specifically, he has trouble drawing their faces.
On one page, the people look stunning. He can capture the anatomical details and expressions so vividly well. Yet, on the next page, their faces look older because he added too many wrinkles. There are also times when the faces look, for lack of a better term, “derpy.” Fortunately, these moments are few and far in between. Sadly, when they do occur, they pull readers from the story. (Mostly for them to have a good laugh.)
Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors in this volume match Dylan’s “I-am-invincible” arc perfectly. The first portion of the comic shows more color variety when compared to volume 1. It features brighter colors like yellow, pink, orange, and green. This represents Dylan’s feeling of invincibility in the first half of the comic. However, as the volume progresses, the colors grow darker. Which matches the danger Dylan faces drawing near him. The colors Breitweiser uses enhance the atmosphere in Kill or be Killed Vol. 2.
Hubris’ Toll in Kill or be Killed Vol. 2
Ed Brubaker’s Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 demonstrates the dangers of hubris. As the Kill or be Killed Vol. 1 review establishes, Dylan is a flawed but believable main character. Dylan does not start vigilantism because he wishes to correct society. On the contrary, he wants to maintain his life. He places his own needs first but uses the guise of performing a public service to condone them.
Instead of maintaining the lie that these murders are for the public’s best interest, Dylan uses them to gain self-worth. Strangely enough, Dylan builds confidence through his vigilantism. However, this overconfidence leaves clues that cause people to suspect a connection between his murders. Overall, the more invincible Dylan feels, the more danger he puts himself and those around him in.
Ever so skillfully, this volume represents modern-day vigilantism. In reality, people are vulnerable to retaliation because they have loved ones in the crossfire. Therefore, since Dylan has relationships with people, his vigilantism is not flawless. Realistically, he has weaknesses and potential liabilities while he performs these acts. Sadly, he is not simply a symbol of justice like other comic heroes but is a subject to it.