Superheroes should be the most trustworthy people in the comic book realm. Despite most heroes maintaining a secret identity, their actions and moral compasses convince citizens to entrust their livelihoods to them. However, when a hero cannot trust themselves or their actions, then why should society? Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), and Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist) ask this question in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3.
With Dylan second-guessing his mental state; family secrets coming out; and the Demon’s existence questioned, everything only gets more complicated. Readers must rethink everything in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3.
The Plot Of Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3
Roughly two months have passed since the events of Kill or be Killed Vol. 2 (review found here). Dylan undergoes proper psychiatric help and his relationship with Kira is improving. He is continuing his graduate studies and quits vigilantism. Also, as an added bonus, he has not seen the Demon.
For the first time in a long time, Dylan is enjoying life.
However, despite all the good things happening, the shadows of the past are creeping back in. The Russians are still searching for the vigilante; the Demon’s origins come into question; family secrets come to light. All these events cause Dylan to question not only his actions up to this point but himself as well. What exactly should readers question in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3? Well, let’s take a look.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issues #11-14 Breakdown
The following section will cover issues #11-14 of Kill or be Killed Vol. 3. Therefore, a SPOILER WARNING is in effect.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #11
Issue #11 of Kill or be Killed Vol. 3 begins with Dylan in a psychiatrists’ office. Dylan is undergoing psychiatric treatment and taking proper prescription medication. (Something he did not perform previously since he got all his drugs from Rex.) Dylan gives up vigilantism and continues with his graduate studies. In the past two months, the Demon has not shown itself. This makes Dylan believe it was a hallucination from bad medication.
His relationship with Kira also improves since Kill or be Killed Vol. 2. The two talk about attending a Halloween party together which makes Dylan optimistic for the future. However, just as things start looking up, Dylan gets sick. He starts to feel the way he did in Kill or be Killed Vol. 1 (review found here).
He felt similar to when the Demon slowly killed him until he performed vigilantism to extend his life. While, at first, Dylan worries about whether or not the Demon truly exists, he decides to attend the party anyway. He goes to Kira’s place of work to meet up. Unfortunately, when he arrives, he finds a Russian mafia member asking for her.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #11 Commentary
This issue portrays that running away from one’s problems does not solve them. By Dylan stopping his vigilantism, the dangers he created are only prolonged not halted. Despite his best efforts to create a new life, his lack of foresight in previous issues still haunts him. The situation worsens as he questions whether or not everything he has done so far was necessary.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #12
Kill or be Killed Vol. 3’s issue #12 follows Dylan after his encounter with the Russian mafia member. He meets with Kira at the Halloween party, and they have a good time. However, their time together reinforces Dylan’s urge to protect her from the Russians. So, he returns to the strip club from Kill or be Killed Vol. 1 and goes undercover.
He gathers information from the dancers regarding a hotel where the Russians do business. Dylan then visits the location and stakes it. While he watches the hotel, he notices a Russian man who visits the location frequently. (This man collects the money the mafia makes from the hotel.)
He begins following the man who visits other locations controlled by the Russian mafia. (Most of these places he visits pay a “protection fee.”) Eventually, Dylan follows the man to the location of the mafia’s head boss. Later on, Dylan holds the Russian man hostage and interrogates him. Though, he learns just how much the Russian mafia knows about him and the people closest to him. Once he obtains enough information, Dylan concocts a plan to kill the Russian mafia in order to protect Kira.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #12 Commentary
Ignoring his doubts, Dylan returns to vigilantism to pursue the Russian mafia to protect his loved ones. Despite his newfound noble effort, this essentially amounts to Dylan cleaning up his own mess. Notwithstanding his family and friends would not be in danger if he had not allowed his ego to take control. The questionable existence of the Demon should have been enough of an indication for Dylan to quit vigilantism. However, because he began to grow confidence through these acts, he continued regardless. This choice is what led the Russian mafia to him and those closest to him.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #13
The question of whether or not the Demon exists plays a forefront role in issue #13. Kill or be Killed Vol. 3 mainly focuses on Dylan’s search for the Demon’s origins.
Back in issue #10, Dylan discovers that the Demon is inside multiple pornographic, sci-fi drawings his father created. He does not remember ever seeing the Demon in the pictures when he was younger. This confuses Dylan as to whether the Demon is a hallucination or a being who curses his family. He visits his mother’s house and looks through his father’s old drawings and finds more with the Demon in them.
Nonetheless, as he rummages through the items, Dylan finds out that he had an older brother named Phillip. His older brother committed suicide, and despite his mother’s insistence, Dylan swears he has never known about Phillip.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #13 Commentary
Dylan’s mental health has always been shaky. Therefore, his credibility as the main character is askew. The way he tells his story shows his instability (through starting midway and then rewinding to the beginning). Readers have difficulty believing Dylan’s point of view because he has a hard time believing himself. With all these revelations occurring, it is hard to separate which for sure are fact or fiction.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #14
Issue #14 in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3 begins with Dylan killing mafia members in one of their hotels. Dylan rampages throughout their facility and manages to escape without getting caught. However, Dylan tricks the mafia members into thinking he is going after their sex trafficking business. But, in reality, Dylan heads to the Russian mafia’s boss’ location in order to kill him.
Once his rampage is over, Dylan heads back home, believing that his run-ins with the mafia are finally over. Afterward, he hangs out with Kira who looks through paperwork that used to belong to Phillip. Kira reads the paperwork which reveals that before Phillip died he heard the voice of a strange creature. And, this revelation shocks Dylan as he connects the Demon to the creature which plagued Phillip until his suicide.
Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3 Issue #14 Commentary
So much occurs within this issue that it is by far the most action-packed one in the series. Everything Dylan learns through vigilantism comes together. He uses his skills in spying, planning, marksmanship, and physical combat to overwhelm his enemies. Nonetheless, readers will thoroughly enjoy all the build-up within the series just to get to this issue.
Along with action, Kill or be Killed Vol. 3 confirms that the Demon is more than it seems. With mental health playing such a key role, the possibility of the Demon being more than a hallucination is astounding. The Demon appears to be something other than a bad side effect to drugs.
It seems to have tormented Dylan’s older brother, Phillip, to the point of suicide. (Dylan’s father also committed suicide; therefore, it is not farfetched to assume the Demon may have played a role too.) Volume 3 continues creating questions regarding Dylan’s past, making more doubt as to what is real.
The Art Of Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3
Sean Phillips’ skills shine in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3. Of the three volumes, the third portrays the best action sequences in the series so far. Phillips captures the overcrowded, hustle-and-bustle atmosphere of city life in the day and its grimy underground at night.
Everything in this volume seems so grand. The action is up-close and personal, so readers get a close look at the mayhem Dylan creates. Phillips’ ability to draw faces makes a complete 180 as well when compared to Kill or be Killed Vol. 2. Unlike the former volume, where the face quality hit or missed on every other page, the artwork here is solid.
Elizabeth Breitweiser’s coloring skills maintain their high marks in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3. Breitweiser has yet to provide a volume where the colors did not enhance the story somehow. Here in volume 3, she captures the dark atmosphere and violence during Dylan’s attack. The reds, blacks, grays, and yellows in the action scenes help pull the reader in.
However, the most amazing thing about Breitweiser’s coloring is her work with Kira. She is by far the brightest-colored individual within the volume. Kira receives a bright-orange hair tint and blushed skin which helps her stand out. This design choice represents how Dylan sees her. He considers her the only good thing in this life. Since the story is through Dylan’s point of view, it only makes sense that Kira shine the brightest.
Overall, the volume portrays solemn coloring. She paints the city pages over with either a sad blue or grimy yellow shade. The blue tone matches Dylan’s insecurity for his and his loved ones’ safety. While the yellow shade represents the filthy society Dylan sees while tailing the Russian mafia member.
Questioning Reality In Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 3
Ed Brubaker continues to keep readers guessing in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3. By incorporating drugs and mental illness within his story, fans are just as confused as Dylan in regard to reality.
Through Brubaker writing the narrative in media res, readers get a glimpse of Dylan’s mental instability. Most issues begin with Dylan mid-fight; he then remembers that his story needs background, so he returns to the start. Portraying the issues this way not only keeps readers enticed to continue reading but symbolizes Dylan’s struggle to maintain control.
As clearly shown in Kill or be Killed Vol. 1 and 2, Dylan is a complex and flawed individual. However, this volume goes deeper into context as to why.
Issues #13 and 14 introduces Dylan’s family’s history with mental health problems. His father and older brother both committed suicide, something Dylan attempted to do himself at the beginning. Plus, his attempt to kill himself is what brought the Demon upon him in the first place. The Demon’s existence has always been questionable; however, Kill or be Killed Vol. 3 provides more doubt.
Brubaker’s excellent writing keeps readers guessing as to whether everything is in Dylan’s head or not. For, it would be just as realistic for this all to be in his head due to his struggling mentality. However, Brubaker also does not remove the possibility that the Demon can really be something sinister. In conclusion, Ed Brubaker succeeds in keeping readers’ attention and guessing in Kill or be Killed Vol. 3.