Stray Bullets #8: Review

David Lapham wraps up the first major arc of Stray Bullets: The Killers, proving once again that violence and love can overlap — at least for Virginia Applejack.

Here’s the official word from Image:

As her safe place falls apart, Virginia realizes that the unraveling of her life began with one person, one incident, long buried. To put it right—to excise the cancer eating at her soul and cursing those around her—she may have to do the unthinkable.

After a poignant courtship Eli, a young teen navigating the world as an amputee, and Virginia Applejack, David Lapham’s long StrayBulletsKillers_08-1term heroine, were finally a couple. And then came issue #7, where Eli got his first real dose of Virginia’s bloody past, and gritty instincts. Unable to deal with Virginia’s truth, Eli bolted and issue #8 begins with what feels like a benign premise — two lovebirds in a protracted fight, but secretly hoping to get back together again. But because this is David Lapham, things don’t turn immediately sweet and reconciliation is not around the corner. Instead, Eli’s dirtball cousin asks Eli to do a favor — one that puts Eli directly in harm’s way and forces Virginia to make a decision: should she be the person Eli wants her to be, or use her gift for violence to protect her boyfriend.

While it’s true that issue #8 offers a satisfying read, it makes for a muted ending to this latest arc for Stray Bullets. Yes, Lapham had a lot of loose strings to tie up, and yes, we do see the birth of Virginia into something new here, but what Lapham short changes the reader on is the emotional resolution of what has been one of his most comprehensive love stories to date. We see how Virgina changes, and now Eli changes, but not the two of them, together. The hope, of course, is that the next arc, which will presumably follow different characters, will still return to this story (if even peripherally). And if so, I can’t wait. But as a stand alone arc, Killers falls just short of being a knock-out.

The art, as always, is provided by Lapham and is just as good as the storytelling. Stray Bullets: Killers #8 provides a wonderful example of why reading books where the artist is also the writer can be such a treat — the script and art sync perfectly, and I was quickly swept away into Lapham’s vision, once again.

Go grab Stray Bullets: Killers #8 today. Despite it’s flaws, it’s Lapham. And Lapham is one of the best.

+ Good Story + But Falls Short of Great

S#!T Talking Central