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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Welcome, Jonan! Glad you found this discussion online.

Jonan Jello said:

Hello Mark and All. Thank you for having me here!

I got in on David Lapham's excellent series from the beginning and was hooked buying the individual issues up until the mid-20s, IIRC. Was reacquainted with my Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses TPB volume 1 purchased last year.

Re-reading it got me back into the world.  I've since ordered vols. 2 & 3 and pulled out my El Capitan Books TPB editions. (also own Uber Alles, Silverfish and Murder Me Dead hard bounds and have an eBay set of Young Liars TPBs in transit to me)

Anyway, I went searching about online for a discussion group and found Captain Comics. Mark, Jeff and others' issue synopses and the S.B. Wiki timeline - incredible effort! I Can't read too much of the timeline for spoilers from Sunshine & Roses, but will definitely scour that resource when I've read more of Lapham's newer stuff. Thank you again.

Reread this issue today and completely forgot Spanish Scott is Rose's brother and how the story resolves.  What a crazy, horrible situation for that little boy to encounter.  I'm addicted to S.B. all over again.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Stray Bullets #23: "The Secret Box"  October 22nd 1980, Baltimore

Finally back in Baltimore, only a few years past 1977, the beginning of the series timeline. Spanish Scott is involved, so things are bound to go south. While babysitting Joey he spots a guy who ratted on the group, and sticks Joey in the car trunk while he kills the rat. Later the victim's brother finds Scott while he is having sex with Janice, Joey's regular babysitter, and shoots her. He dumps her into the trunk with Joey. Then Scott attacks him with the car cigarette lighter and makes his escape in another car.

Stray Bullets #24: "Man or HU-man?" June 15th 1985, Los Angeles

Back in L.A., with a story that casually ties together several story lines. Beth meets Ian (the guy that Beth met by the river in Woodlake two years before) at a restaurant, along with Ricky Fish & Amelia, while Monster waits outside making sure no one leaves. Ian goes to get Virginia from Beth's apartment, but no one is home, and Blue Ed is waiting outside. Ian knocks Blue Ed out, and returns to the restaurant. Beth finally gets Monster to come inside, and convinces him to forget about Harry's missing money & coke. To be continued?

Great issue. That opening scene of Virginia and the jock fighting in the rain was fantastic. Then she goes and does a sort of Yojimbo on the two high school factions.  Virginia's too cool.

I own Uber Alles but was so disappointed with the crappy binding that I never attempted reading the collection. So, those final nine or ten issues of the series are all new to me in the Stray Bullets Volume 5 collection I'm currently reading. While I enjoy Sunshine and Roses (I've read vols. 1, 2, and 3), the original series is still my favorite. 

 I've read online reviews stating it's just an okay prequel(?), but  I'm eager to jump into the Killers collection

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Stray Bullets #33: "Donnybrook!" October 6th 1985, Baltimore

Virginia beats up one of the jocks, to join up with the burnouts. And she instigates a big fight at a party, which explains the title. She is definitely trouble: I'm looking forward to seeing what else she gets into.

Two more fantastic issues.  I don't know where Lapham thinks this stuff up - especially the Bamboozled events. Quite excited to continue reading and witness who everything collides together and/or falls apart.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Stray Bullets #35: "Bamboozled!" November 1985, Baltimore

High school football again, this time at Virginia's school, but the focus is on team members. Tony is dating Stephanie, who Kevin thinks he has claimed. He gets blackmail photos, forcing Tony to break up with Stephanie so he can go out with her.

Stray Bullets #36: "Monkey Business!" Early August 1985, Baltimore

Virginia has been home for three weeks, before she returns to school. Her mother still hates her, and she has a new boyfriend named Craig. Virginia finally decides Craig may be OK, but she still reveals Craig's infidelity to her mother--as part of her birthday present to her mom. This issue also features the return of Virginia's diary entries, something we haven't seen in awhile.

"Welcome, Jonan! Glad you found this discussion online."

What he said.

It seems as if it's been a while since the last new issue of Stray Bullets.

Has Lapham "gone missing" again?.

Thanks, Jeff of Earth-J. This forum is one of the few with a Stray Bullet discussion and I dig the folks I've encountered!

I finished off the collection last night. Really good story arc with Lapham taking things in a new territory, but with the main events always looming on the horizon or out and about the narrative; There were several perplexing plot points and characters. But I found myself with many 'ah-ha!' moments as I realized who was who. 

Aside from some Amy Racecar standalones, I believe I'm all caught up.
Next up is either Vol. 8: Killers or Vol. 4 of Sunshine & Roses.

Yes, what is the status of Stray Bullets!  I found David Lapham on Instagram, but doesn't seem very active on it. Here's hoping there's more to come, but if there isn't, what exists is some of the finest modern comics I've ever read.

Thanks again for the welcome. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Welcome, Jonan! Glad you found this discussion online."

What he said.

It seems as if it's been a while since the last new issue of Stray Bullets.

Has Lapham "gone missing" again?.

I finished the collection (and the author notes in the back).

Killers is mostly unremarkable to me and one event - involving the hoarder guy who builds model ships -completely threw me for a loop. I'm going to revisit the collection and see if it clears up my confusion.

I just have Sunshine & Roses Volume 4 to read in order to be all caught up.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

I read this for the first time about a year ago, and posted about it on the board and in my blog. This was before I reread the earlier issues, so I thought I'd repost it here. I read #1-5 today, so I'll return to this thread tomorrow after I've finished the whole collection.

Stray Bullets Vol. 6 – Killers

David Lapham

Image Comics

The original run of Stray Bullets ended in 2005. When David Lapham decided to bring it back in 2014 he chose to publish the new issues as a series of titled miniseries--but the collections are numbered consecutively from the beginning. That's how this new eight-issue miniseries came to be collected as Volume Six. The good news is, Lapham has not lost a step. These stories have all the twisted glory the originals had. This is a unique voice in noir fiction, a dark look into frequently desperate, violent lives. Black and white art has never been more appropriate.

Over time the series developed a group of recurring characters, a few of which reappear here. Seeing Virginia Applejack, Spanish Scott, and Amy Racecar again has a nice resonance for returning fans. But it really is true that this series is completely new-reader friendly. You don't have to know any of the character's histories to follow the action.

The first issue is set in 1978 and features Spanish Scott being his usual charming, ruthless self. But it also introduces Eli as a boy, and shows how meeting Scott affects his life. The focus of most of the rest of the series is on Eli's budding relationship with Virginia in 1986. Virginia meets Eli after her time in Baltimore: the gangsters she met there come to dominate the rest of the story. 

There is one interlude in the story arc. Issue Five features the return of Amy Racecar. As usual her story has an unreal, hallucinogenic quality. She's like a real-world superhero, performing superhuman feats. In this story she decides to leave violence behind, but passes her skills along to her lover. And Spanish Scott appears in the role of bounty hunter Jack Rum.

Eli and Virginia fall in love, but the relationship is anything but smooth. Getting in the middle of a gang war would be complicated for any couple. They break up, get back together, break up again...and then survive an attack by professional hit men, but the final status of their relationship is unclear at the end. Knowing Stray Bullets, I'm sure we'll see them again.

Just finished this collection and enjoyed the entire read.

Issue #28 - Magic Banana.  I caught on quickly Orson/Derek must not be consuming bananas, but I cannot figure out what he was eating instead?  What Beth jettisons from the car appears to be a burrito, but surely it was something more gruesome. Any thought or insight?

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses, Part 4 - "The Salad Days"

Part 4 (Issues #25-32) opens with the earliest event in the Stray Bullets chronology so far: Kretchmeyer is leaving his parents' house in December, 1974. We get a good look at the dysfunctional family dynamics--before he kills his parents, believing he has made a clean break. These scenes are interspersed with Baltimore in 1979: Beth, Nina, Scott and Krethchmeyer are dealing with Harry and the drug trade. In the end Beth agrees to go to Sante Fe with Kretchmeyer and Scott, where they bond over peyote.

The rest of the collection follows the various splinter groups as they pursue their various agendas. Having recently purchased the original art for page 13 from Issue #22, it was an odd experience seeing it displayed on my wall as I began reading, as it is part of the precipitating event that drives the action here. Annie and Kretchmeyer make plans to go into business, and seek revenge together. In the meantime, Annie suggests to Kretchmeyer that they try to find his brother Vic, and they drive to North Dakota. Beth and the gang are hiding out in Tennessee. Orson is still disguising himself as Derek, complete with mustache (an identity which frees him to do increasingly crazy things). Vic, Kretchmeyer's little brother, is beaten and thrown out of a bar after failing to score some heroin for him and his girlfriend Verne. Vic takes a job on a farm for the father of Carlos, an old army buddy, and meets Josefina, his sister.

Kretchmeyer and Annie return to Kretch's home town, and discover that the murder has not remained anonymous: Kretch's father survived long enough to identify him as the murderer. When Kretch and Annie catch up to Vic, they warn him that the police are on his trail. Another narrative thread follows Spanish Scott and an accomplice as they attempt to recover the missing cocaine and cash. The series has stopped jumping around chronologically as much as the original series, but there are time jumps within each issue--so the story is not as linear as it had been earlier in Sunshine & Roses.

The last big event finds Beth sending Orson back to Baltimore to return to his former life. But he discovers that much has changed--their big heist actually made a difference. His old friend Chandra (the stripper) fills him in, and sends him back to Beth. Orson gifts her with his cash stash before he goes. And so the game is on for the final installment of the story.

I don't own a copy of the book (I read it in ebook form as part of my public library's Hoopla service), so I can't easily re-read that part. But there is a note about this on the Wikia page: "Throughout the story, "Derek" keeps eating what he sees as bananas - everybody is so disgusted by this that they must actually be something else, but we never find out what." 

Jonan Jello said:

Just finished this collection and enjoyed the entire read.

Issue #28 - Magic Banana.  I caught on quickly Orson/Derek must not be consuming bananas, but I cannot figure out what he was eating instead?  What Beth jettisons from the car appears to be a burrito, but surely it was something more gruesome. Any thought or insight?

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