• Stray Bullets Sunshine And Roses #2

    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: March 18th, 2015.
    Written and illustrated by: David Lapham
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    Not caught up on the first issue of Lapham’s latest and greatest? Correct that now. Otherwise when we arrive in Baltimore on June 19th, 1981 you won’t know what’s going on. Orson wakes up from a dream where he got smacked outside the head with a baseball bat while trying to rob a store. Someone on the background chanted ‘you’re the coolest dude I’ve ever met in my life’ over and over again. He wakes up, his parents are gone but his sister Becca is around. He’s late for his college interview. He’s also got a really itchy crotch and after convincing her to look at it for him, finds out he has crabs.

    After dealing with that and shaving what needed to be shaved, he tells Becca about meeting Beth, how they went to a party and how he took what he thought was aspirin. It wasn’t. Maybe he did rob that store, he really doesn’t know. So he heads back to the apartment where the party was going on to try and find Beth. She’s there, hanging out with Kretchmeyer telling him that his boss, Scott, is a dickhead. Orson walks in, Beth is thrilled to see him, and Kretchmeyer heads out for work. Orson wants details about what happened the night before but all Beth wants to do is hang out and drink some scotch. He learns that he didn’t get the crabs from her like he assumed, and then tries to split – he’s got that interview to think of. Beth’s got a head full of acid though, and she convinces him to stick around. Just as romance stats to bloom, a weird little kid peeks in through the window and Beth freaks out. He just might be the sun of Rosie, ‘the crab infested slut’ who was at the party. The kid is wired and Orson talks Beth into helping him take the kid home. On the way, Beth tells him that they did try to rob a liquor store, the take a few swigs of that scotch on the way, never mind the fact that Orson is driving. They try to drop him, things are… bad. They leave, and they talk some more and as they do the truth comes out about Nina, Harry and Orson comes up with a plan to get Nina and Beth back together. There’s no way this will end well…

    This is a big ol’ piece about relationships. Yes, it’s seedy and sordid and it relates to the ‘bigger picture’ that is the Stray Bullets universe but at its core this second issue is about Orson falling in love with Beth. As fucked up as things get, and they do indeed get very fucked up in this issue, it’s also kind of sweet. Dysfunctional to be sure, but sweet in the way that poor, naïve, well-meaning Orson falls for the bad girl. He thinks he can fix her, raise her up and get her away from all the creeps she thinks are her friends, but the jury hasn’t come to a decision yet – who knows if that’s even possible (well, Lapham probably knows, but he’s not telling yet). As is the norm for Stray Bullets, the dialogue is very natural and well written. It never feels fake or forced but entirely appropriate for the types of characters we’re dealing with here. Little bits, like the occasional back and forth between Orson and his sister Becca, are a nice touch and do a good job of not only allowing Orson to explain what happened but allow for some nice humor to be injected here too. As to how Orson and Beth get along, well, obviously there’s more to come and this HAS to play out into the storylines involving Kretchmeyer and Scott (the last few pages cement that for us, as if there was any doubt), but as to how, well, that’s where the issue’s suspense quotient stems from.

    Lapham’s a great storytelling and this latest chapter of Stray Bullets is, thankfully, further evidence of that. The series is fantastically illustrated and just amazingly consistent in how well written it is. It’s multilayered and complex but so character driven that even when you’re not sure where it’s all going it makes for a great read. If you’re new to the Stray Bullets universe pick up the first issue of Sunshine And Roses and buckle in for what will no doubt wind up a wild ride.