Kill or be Killed Vol. 4
Ed Brubaker, writer; Sean Phillips, artist; Elizabeth Breitweiser, colorist
Image Comics, 2018

The series finale begins with Dylan in a mental institution. After months of no vigilante activity--and not seeing the demon--the demon suddenly reappears. As usual only he can see it, and he winds up attacking his roomate thinking he is the demon. Hence the insane asylum. There his therapist tries to convince him that the demon was imaginary, naturally. Dylan plays along, despite continuing to see the demon everywhere. After sufficient medication he even convinces himself that he had been imagining the demon all along.

Meanwhile back in the city a copycat vigilante has been killing people. Of course this makes Dylan's claim of being the vigilante look like some sort of weird fantasy. When the vigilante is killed by the police, the case is closed, the task force disbanded. But Detective Sharpe sees too many loose ends, and continues working on the case (despite it being officially closed). That's how she attracts the attention of the Russian mob--remember them?--and they follow her to the asylum where she goes to talk to Dylan. They intend to finally exact their revenge on Dylan for his mob killings.


My narrative so far hasn't been exactly spoiler free, but now I'm looking at the end game. There is no way to to discuss the series ending without going into details. The Russians attack the asylum, which leaves Dylan and the detective fighting their way out as the only choice. Just when it looks like they have gotten out, they encounter one last Russian in the parking lot. This is where the story goes in several different directions. First ending: Dylan dies in the parking lot. Second ending: Dylan survives, and goes on to continue his vigilante activities, with Detective Sharpe's blessing (which can be seen as a dying fantasy, like his life passing before his eyes). Third ending: Dylan dies, but his girlfriend Kira comes to share his pessimistic view of life...and the demon appears in her mirror in the final scene.

So in the end Brubaker tries to have it both ways. Dylan was crazy, and the demon was all in his head. The demon was real, and has appeared to many other people. Or a third possibility: the demon is just a manifestation of the difficulties of modern life. After playing with the question of whether the demon was real or imaginary through most of the series, I was expecting a definitive answer in the conclusion. I did not get it, and would hesitate to recommend the series for that reason.

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I'm pretty sure Dylan is dead. I also tend to feel that the demon is real. Why would two people see the same demon?

I wasn't thrilled with the ending either, but like I said in another thread, this team's weaker stories are still better than most creator's good stories.

Oh, I agree that Dylan is dead. The ending where he survives is clearly a fantasy. But you could argue that Kira has seen Dylan's father's drawings of the demon--so she was pre-conditioned to see it the way Dylan did. Which doesn't necessarily mean it isn't real, but to hell with the ambiguity.

I also agree about the strength of the team. I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

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