Stray Bullets Killers 2
Lapham, Ramos, Hoyt
I will most certainly be SPOILING!
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lapham’s new run of Stray Bullets is a series of short stories. Not being familiar with the original run of the book, I found myself expecting a story continuing beyond the depressing ending of the first issue.
Instead, this issue opens up with a pretty young girl showing up at her aunt’s home after being gone for six months. The aunt’s initial reaction is, of course, to feed her and make sure that she is well. The girl, Virginia, avoids answering as many questions as she can and entreats her aunt to not call her mother. From the discussion the two have while Virginia pigs out on potato salad, she vanished after her father died, leaving things precarious between Virginia and her mother.
After a bath, Virginia goes to sleep in her cousins bed, and can’t seem to actually slumber until she climbs underneath it. This eccentricity tells us just a bit about her life in the past six months. Her aunt screaming at someone in the garage wakes her, and after sneaking out to look, she witnesses her nearly catatonic uncle watching the television.
In the morning, Virginia’s aunt is back to playing happy homemaker, pushing more food on her. Before the conversation can really take a turn towards anything serious, a new character, Eli, shows up and flexes his nice muscle. Turns out he is both nice and funny, more than willing to help out most people, and also has an amputated leg.
While at the Boardwalk, they share stories about their past; Eli losing his father and his leg in a car crash, Virginia spending the last six months with some kind of killer. As they spend more time together, we get the feeling that Virginia is going to be a horrible influence on the mostly innocent Eli. By degrees, she begins to offer him the usual trapping of teenage despondency; petty crime and cigarettes.
The next night comes across as awkward, with Virginia’s aunt apparently having a sex dream about Eli, and her uncle spying on her through the window. The next day, Virginia and Eli hang out again, introducing a rude couple of pot heads that he is giving a ride, and the close call with Virginia’s volatile temper. The two return to what has become their personal hang out spot for a picnic, which degenerates, as is want to do when alcohol enters teenage meetings, into an awkward grope fest.
As their picnic draws to a close, Virginia finds out that her aunt is nowhere near as stable as she has appeared to be. She returns home to find her aunt in the aftermath of a drunken night down memory lane. When she can’t get her aunt to wake up, she heads to the source, her uncle. In an attempt to fix her uncle, she gives him his meds and a picture to remind him what he could have. And the next morning, her aunt wakes up with optimism.
The first and second issue were both fantastic, each with a very human story and a powerful ending. Killers seems like an apt subtitle and I will most certainly be getting next months issue.
My rating 4.5 / 5