Stray Bullets, David Lapham’s on-again off-again decades long series is back, but with a twist. For readers looking to enter Lapham’s complicated fray of characters in an easy but satisfying way, Stray Bullets: Killers is just the place to start.
This week’s installment: The Five Fingers.
Well, Virginia Applejack is back and at first blush writer David Lapham has her doing something strangely age-appropriate: babysitting. But don’t lose heart Stay Bullets fans, because after just a few well-paced pages Lapham reveals the real twist of issue #3 — Virginia has agreed to watch over the children of a local hitman known for pulling fingers off his victims (and search the house the his hidden money while she’s at it). While the conclusion of ultimately feels uneven, the set-up is classic Lapham: strange, violent, and slightly beautiful. For those who’ve followed Lapham for a while Stray Bullets: Killers offers a return to one of this series’ most compelling themes: kids acting like adults in a world where adults are incapable of being grown-ups. And, if this is true, then Lapham’s intense embrace of Virginia Applejack for this micro-run — especially with issue #3 — makes total sense. Virginia is, after all, Lapham’s most compelling hybrid of innocence and savviness, a true blending of everything that makes Stray Bullets sweet and dark. And, yes, she’s growing up right before our eyes.
Lapham’s art is just as good as his storytelling. Stray Bullets: Killers #3 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 even though Lapham clearly favors the traditional eight panel layout, and rarely strays from it, his work within those panels is *so* tight each page feels innovative and rich. So yeah, I love the guy.
When Stray Bullets first hit the scene back in 1995 it captured the imagination of countless geeks —Lapham’s character-driven opus was both violent and heartfelt. And with Stray Bullets: Killers we can fall in love all over again.