I got hooked on David Lapham's crime noir series Stray Bullets the first time I picked up one of the original trade paperback collections. I kept picking them up periodically, but it was a long time before I got to read Vol. 1, and I never found a copy of Vol. 7. The original trades ended with Vol. 8 (at issue #32), which left issues #33-40 uncollected. Not only that, but issue #41, which ended the original run of the series, was delayed when the entire series went on hiatus.

The Über Alles Edition, which collects all of the issues from #1 - 41, fills in all the gaps. I was about to read the issues I missed, but realized that I had read some of the earlier collections out of order--and it had been a long time since I read the last one. So I'm starting from the beginning, and thought it might be interesting to record my impressions as I went.

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"I don't remember much about her."

I'm gong to have to go back and check when she first appeared. (Maybe you haven't gotten to her yet...?) I don't want to give anything away.

Wikia to the rescue again. She hasn't appeared yet (the first collection covers issues #1-8). And it turns out the earlier Kretchmeyer things weren't really appearances. SB #7 includes art in the back that was later used for Sunshine & Roses #1, so it's only technically his first appearance. And in Killers he is mentioned--a lot of action comes from his goons--but doesn't actually appear on panel. So my memory isn't so bad, after all.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses, Vol. 2

The second Sunshine & Roses collection (Issues #9-16) is almost entirely devoted to Beth and Orson's big heist: the lead-up, the heist itself, and the immediate aftermath as they go on the lam. All of this fills in background to the original Stray Bullets series, going back to Issue # 5. Here in 1981, Beth and Orson are sharing a freaky codependent relationship. They're both using drugs, Orson is trying to convince Rose that they are a couple--while still keeping contact with Nina--and Beth is stringing Kretchmeyer along.

The events leading up to the heist are an unlikely combination of planning and chance. Spanish Scott demonstrates his usual insight, which looks like the end of the plan--but there are more moving parts than he anticipated, despite his legendary instincts. Ultimately Beth and Orson succeed in the theft--although not exactly as they planned--but they find themselves hobbled with Krethchmeyer and Harry's son Joey.

Events transpire, leaving the group with an injured witness. But Krethchmeyer is out of the picture, which counts as a win. There are details about how Orson and Beth wound up in Woodlake in the original series, which may or may not be revealed in the next collection. But this is a satisfying chapter in the story. I will say that it could have been done in fewer issues, and the obligatory Amy Racecar issue is becoming tedious.

Apparently Annie has still not been introduced. A quick internet search reveals her first appearance is Sunshine & Roses #17, so next volume.

I noticed that too. The next volume is already available on Hoopla, so I should get to it soon. What do you think about the pacing? I feel like Lapham is stretching the story more than it needs. I'm looking forward to the next volume, but not as much as in the past.

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