PREVIEW: 'Red Sonja' #9 by Mirka Andolfo and Giuseppe Cafaro

REVIEW: 'We Only Kill Each Other' #2 by Stephanie Phillips, Peter Krause, and Ellie Wright

 


WE ONLY KILL EACH OTHER #2 

Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Peter Krause, Ellie Wright
Lettered: Troy Peteri
Release Date: December 15, 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.

Score:
★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

Stephanie Phillips, Peter Krause, and Ellie Wright stunned with a piece of historical fiction in issue one of 'We Only Kill Each Other' that put readers in 1938 New York. The introduction of two gangsters at odds in the midst of a growing sympathetic Nazi coalition and rising anti-semitic violence was a stark reminder that history is prologue. The tension and chaos of a U.S.city grappling with domestic terrorism while a foreign war looms in the distance is a topic that would seem too heavy for a comic book but Phillips finds the perfect angle in the real-life use of gangsters to combat Nazis. 

Even though this is a fictionalized account, it's scary to think a lot of what's depicted really happened. It shouldn't be surprising but given our current political climate, it's still pretty shocking. Boys camps in New Jersey turned young men into Nazi-loving boy scouts. Fritz Kuhn was leading the charge and organizing the antisemitic and pro-German organization. He's seen here doing just that and representing the local threat to Jewish Americans. 

The imminent threat to society and the influence of Hitler's Nazi party leads to the D.A. enlisting rival gangsters Levi Solomon and Jonas Kaminsky to team up and fight back. The interesting thing about this dynamic of the elder mafia figure willing to jump at the chance to punch Nazis and the younger upstart in Jonas refusing to is that they're both Jewish but see the opportunity differently. Jonas wants no part of the task of working with his rival. Under normal circumstances that would make sense but the Nazi threat is real and he's also in jeopardy if the tide isn't stemmed now. His hesitancy and indifference mirror the stance of the U.S. of the conflict overseas. Isolationists in the government saw Hitler as Europe's problem and were staying out of it. It isn't until Japan bombs Pearl Harbor that the threat hits home and then the U.S. is all in. Similarly, Jonas has his own catastrophic event that leads to changing his mind. 

Again, Peter Krause and Ellie Wright capture such a specific era with accuracy and style. The colors, the clothes, match the dialogue by Phillips in creating a mesmerizing trip back in time. So much of it reminds me of gangster films like 'Miller's Crossing' and 'Once Upon a Time in America.' It's easy to get lost in the story when the visuals are so transportive. 

'We Only Kill Each Other' #2 escalates the Nazi threat at home while forming the uneasy alliance of rival mafia figures. This year has seen some really great comics in the historical fiction realm and this one is right up there so far. An ugly time in America given daylight with a riveting story lighting the way. Do not miss it. 


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