Stray Bullets: Killers #1

6.67 Overall Score
Art: 7/10
Dialogue: 7/10
Story: 6/10

Though this was my first foray into Lapham’s Stray Bullets universe, I am eager to return.

Though I enjoyed most of Stray Bullets: Killers, I was slightly put-off by the treatment of the female characters, or lack thereof.

Stray Bullets: Killers #1
David Lapham
Image Comics
2014

Stray Bullets: Killers is a comic that, despite having an unwieldy and anarchic title, is surprisingly focused. The story concentrates on Eli, a pubescent kid living in Baltimore in the 1970s, who spends most of his days fantasizing about girls and drawing comics, often combining the two and drawing pictures of the female anatomy for his friends. He has also become a master at sneaking into the Cock’s Crow, his father’s strip club of choice. But when Eli has a run-in with Sonny, the club’s bouncer and a cog in the machinery of a vague criminal enterprise, he may not realize what he’s gotten himself into until it’s too late.

Killers is the newest incarnation of writer and artist David Lapham’s beloved crime series Stray Bullets. For those unfamiliar with Lapham’s other tales of crime and mayhem, Killers is a good introduction for the uninitiated. Lapham introduces the reader to a stable of interesting characters: from Eli and his perpetually-horny friends to the mysterious Sonny to Eli’s skeevie father Gary. The art in Stray Bullets: Killers is done in an almost crude black and white, with very little shading or extraneous strokes of the pen. Though the art is complete and visceral, it has a gritty and bare vibe that makes an already rough-around-the-edges comic even more haggard and uncompromising. Some may be turned off by the barren style, but it compliments the story and sets the tone in a very subdued way.

Though I enjoyed most of Stray Bullets: Killers, I was slightly put-off by the treatment of the female characters, or lack thereof. Every woman in the story serves only as a sexual cornerstone to the male characters; the women aren’t allowed to develop, but instead, are used as a measurement of the male characters’ masculinity. Granted, most of the story takes place in and around a strip club, but for having a number of potentially strong female characters, the book never allows them to be anything other than a spring board for the men in the story. Also, it seems both Lapham and his characters have a fascination with the word “boobs”. I can imagine it’s a word used quite often in and amongst young boys, but when written again and again, it gives a mostly intelligent story, a bit of a juvenile feel.

Though this was my first foray into Lapham’s Stray Bullets universe, I am eager to return. The cover shows this as Issue 1, but the final panels are followed with a definitive sounding “THE END”; and the resolution, though satisfying, could be extrapolated upon. So I’m not sure whether we’ll see any more of these characters, but I’ve got my eye on what is to come in the world of Stray Bullets.

 

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Craig Schroeder
Author: Craig Schroeder View all posts by
I am a graduate of Florida State University, studying Creative Writing and History. Right now I work a desk job but I dream all day of making a living writing comics. I formed an indie label based in Tallahassee called Gentleman Baby Comics and HIT! is our debut comic. I read a lot of comics. I watch a lot of movies. I drink too much soda. I love a great television show.

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