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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S&R #17 ships tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, and I can hardly wait until it out in trade so we can discuss it here.

Okay, I read the first issue of the trade last night after your challenge! Wow, this was indeed brutal. You couldn't help but feel bad for the more unstable guy, and because this is Stray Bullets, you know we are in for a downward spiral. Very tense and pretty upsetting, just what I'd expect.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Issue #1: The Look Of Love

An unbelievably brutal--and random--series opener. It's almost as if Lapham was challenging the reader: "can you handle this? It's going to be a rough ride." Two small-time hoods (apparently gophers for real hoodlums) are supposed to be disposing of a body. But they have a flat on the way to the lake, and things go downhill from there, in accelerating fashion. The pair keeps picking up witnesses, and since they can't afford to leave any witnesses, more and more people get killed, many of them completely innocent bystanders. One of them is pretty unstable, and he's fallen in love with the murdered woman they were transporting (hence the title)--so calling him unstable and unpredictable would be generous. There was no way things were going to end well.

Ha, I started digging in because of the challenge, too! I read a bunch, starting with issue 5 (I'd read issues 1-4 when I got the book, though I poked back into 3 and parts of 2 to recontextualize the Baltimore gang), and now I've gotten up to issue 12. 

And man, I remember so little of this, it's incredible! I think I'm going to get to the end of Somewhere Out West, and then write a bit more about it. 

Let me know when you guys are up to Sunshine & Roses (28 issues and counting) and I'll re-read them with you.

The resolution to the cliffhanger at the end of this is resolved in a conversation Beth has with Spanish Scott in issue 14. 

SPOILERS, I guess. And paraphrasing.

Beth says Nina's messed up because Scott killed her boyfriend in front of her.
Scott says Nina was Harry's girl, and besides, she said he'd raped her.
Beth says, What would you expect her to say? Harry was right there!

So I guess that's why we don't see Led after issue 3.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Issue #3: The Party is pretty much what the title says. A pair of lowlifes steal some money (after a failed jewelry store heist) and decide to use it to throw a party. Spanish Scott is there, and the first appearance of Monster, but all of the other characters are new. It ends in a cliffhanger of sorts; I don't remember if it ever gets resolved.

 

Still no compilations announced, I gather. Amazon shows issues 29 and 30 as forthcoming. Has Lapham said how many total issues it will be?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Let me know when you guys are up to Sunshine & Roses (28 issues and counting) and I'll re-read them with you.

"Has Lapham said how many total issues it will be?"

Not that I know of.

I'm eager to see your reaction to the new major character.

I just read issue 17, "While Ricky Fish Was Sleeping," and there's an anachronism that stood out to me. When Roger draws his gun on Ricky in the bar toward the end of the story, he says, "What's that line about never bringing a knife to a gun fight?" It's a good question, since Brian DePalma's The Untouchables (which might have originated, and certainly popularized, that line) wasn't released until 1987. 

Anyone know of any earlier uses? I did a little searching online and didn't find any. 

I've seen references to a line like that, but the closest I can find in quotes online is:

Butch Cassidy: [to Sundance, upon being challenged to a knife fight by the massive Logan] Maybe there's a way to make a profit from this... [sighs] bet on Logan.
The Sundance Kid:"I would, but who'd bet on you?"
There might be something else in that scene, but that's the quote that keeps coming up.

I think the line I was thinking of is: "Rules? In a knife fight?!"

Ah, there you go!

I can't think of an earlier reference on TV or film, but that is a pretty old joke.

Q: Who brings a knife to a gun fight?

A: The loser.

I think Lapham was making an oblique reference to that joke.

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