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#28 [May. 17th, 2010|08:25 am]

100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)

#28 STRAY BULLETS #6 – David Lapham
(El Capitan)

“I sort of had a hail of bullets in mind.”

Stray Bullets explores the fallout from the kind of events that would be centre stage in your typical crime drama. Its cast are low-rent crims and ordinary bystanders whose lives are drastically affected by the violent actions of gangsters and professional thugs, tossed around on the ripples made by the passing of bigger fish. One of these ordinary bystanders is a girl named Virginia Applejack, whose presence in any issue of Stray Bullets is a sign that things are about to get especially nasty – her life is just a string of horrible occurrences one after the other.

Issue six is different. This issue travels inside Virginia’s head to show her fantasy alter ego, Amy Racecar. Amy is a bank-robbing tough girl, a Bonnie who doesn’t need a Clyde to slow her down. The story of Amy Racecar as imagined by this little girl is a bullet-happy daydream dripping in blood. The people who try to stop her once she becomes a celebrity who gets pestered for autographs in the middle of robberies, from the President to the head of the FBI, are all dopey caricatures of ineptitude who thoroughly deserve everything they get – just like her mother and everyone else who runs her world. In Amy Racecar’s world even God is just a useless doofus who pulls silly magic tricks like an amateur-magician uncle.

The way the story combines a childish worldview with garish violence is a sign of how disturbed its teller is, but it also shows how she’s coping. Between the lines she’s just a messed-up kid making sense of a messed-up world, learning to deal with grief and pain by enlarging it and painting it on a great big canvas. Plenty of kids daydream about their teachers and parents dying extravagantly violent deaths; Amy Racecar just takes it one step further until she’s knocked off every duplicitous authority figure in the entire world.