REVIEW: 'We Only Kill Each Other' #1 by Stephanie Phillips, Peter Krause, and Ellie Wright



Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Peter Krause, Ellie Wright
Lettering: Troy Peteri
Release Date: November 17, 2021
Cover Price: $2.99

The year is 1938. The threat of World War II looms over the United States, where Nazi sympathizers and fascists have taken root on American soil in alarming numbers. In New York City, resistance to the American Nazi movement grows amongst the ranks of Jewish-American gangsters. Enter Jonas Kaminsky, a rising small-time gangster who's embroiled in a turf war with Levi Solomon, an old-time mob boss with millions tied up in gambling and booze. When thrown together in an unexpected circumstance, it turns out that the one thing these gangsters hate more than each other is Nazis.

★★★★★ (5/5)

'We Only Kill Each Other' #1 by Stephanie Phillips, Peter Krause, Ellie Wright, and Troy Peteri is a spectacular new fictionalized historical comic at Comixology Originals.  The time is 1938 in New York and Adolf Hitler is already wielding his power in Europe to what will eventually lead to World War II. While Jewish businesses are being destroyed and Jews arrested in Germany, Jewish gangs run the streets of New York pitting Levi Solomon against the upstart Jonas Kaminsky. Amid the local turf war, support for the Nazis is rising with the very real-life Fritz Julius Kuhn leading the way. It's hard to say if there are any heroes in this story so far but it's something Phillips examines as tensions mount in New York. 

Kaminsky's narration waxes poetically about the evil men do and how there's so much gray area surrounding the motivations, intentions, desires, and wants of everyone that nothing is black and white. There's a villain for everyone. After reading issue one, you'll have to agree because there are levels of villainy going on and Phillips captures the proper tone and grit of a period of time that was on the precipice of exploding into war. 

As reviewers and readers in general, period pieces arent' heavily scrutinized for their authenticity or accuracy. Usually, depicting the past can be tricky if the writer doesn't have an ear for dialogue or an artist doesn't have a grip of the architecture or costumes of the time. We're pretty forgiving as long the story is interesting enough. Here, Phillips and Krause not only capture the look of 1938 New York but the characters are vividly depicted with personas that jump off the page. Whether it's the cockiness of Kaminsky or the ruthlessness of Solomon, they sound like people from a bygone era. Modern sensibilities are relaxed and what we get are less than scrupulous figures that demand attention. And because it's historical in nature, Kuhn's inclusion is at once shocking but his Nazi sympathy echoes through time to the present where fascism and fascination with white supremacy still infect this country. The fact that Kaminsky and Solomon will join forces to fight Nazism is ripe for this kind of master storytelling from Phillips. 

'We Only Kill Each Other' #1 is the latest riveting title from Comixology Originals. Phillips, Krause, and Wright have created a captivating historical drama as compelling as 'Once Upon a Time in America,' 'Miller's Crossing,' and 'Goodfellas.' I don't want to oversell it but the level of quality and attention to detail is exquisite with a gritty complex crime drama where you root for the bad guys against even worse guys. It's a chapter of history that makes essential reading.