Kelly Sue Deconnick/Emma Rios/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles
I’m the type of guy who traditionally does not enjoy westerns. I don’t hate them per say, but I don’t go out of my watch to read, watch, or in the case of Red Dead Redemption, play them. There’s not any one specific reason why, it’s just that they don’t traditionally grab me.
That being said, Kelly Sue Deconnick (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble) is one of my favorite people working in comics today and Emma Rios is a tremendous artist that I feel no one but David Brothers has been talking about. So when Pretty Deadly was announced, I was more than willing to put my personal biases aside and drop the $3.50 to give it a shot. It kind of hard to pass up the opportunity to read about the story of the daughter of Death, as told by dead bunny to a butterfly (You can thank Kelly Sue’s son Henry Leo for that imagery by the way).
Pretty Deadly is a comic that the reader really benefits from when read collected in trade. KSD said it herself ( I think it may have been on a Nerdist’s podcast, or on Tumblr), and after several re-reads, I agree. The first two issues are….vague to say the least. It takes about 2 issues for the majority of the cast to be introduced, and a lot of the key plot elements aren’t brought up until the middle and end of the story. It’s far from a bad comic, especially when you factor in the amount of ass kicking that goes down (Issue 2 is the first example of what a fully unrated Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire fight scene looks likes), but I felt a little more confused than I usually like when reading comics. As I said earlier, it’s a type of comic that benefits from multiple re-reads.
While I had some issues with the narrative, I have to give praise where it’s due in the visual department. Emma Rios, expertly colored by the great Jordie Bellaire, comes out swinging in this series. Her art is nothing short of fantastic, and I encourage anyone who‘s reading this article to Google the cover gallery. The amount of detail in everything from animal’s fur, feathers and wings to the folds in the human characters clothes is breathtaking. The interior art is as equally impressive, with some very fluid and kinetic scenes set in non-traditional panel layouts. The ultra violent fight scenes mentioned earlier, are a great example of this, as they’re very well choreographed, and when an attacked lands/hits, it’s so intense that you can practically feel it. Bellaire’s colors are equally important, helping both sell the more realistic as well as fantasy elements in the book. Both the western landscapes and the spirits worlds seem to have their own special set of colors assigned to them, and the end result is some stunning looking art. And Clayton Cowles‘ lettering is great, and helps tells the tale without interfering with the penciled and colored art.
Despite it not being my favorite Kelly Sue Deconnick penned book, Pretty Deadly is the type of book worthy of the praise it’s received from other. Deconnick and Rios are not the first pair of creators with a solid supernatural western series to hit the market in recent years (the EXCELLENT Sixth Gun series from Oni comes to mind), but the combined talents of its creative team make it stand on its own and for fans to take notice. It’s always good to have more books out there with female leads by female creators, especially when they’re as good as this. Pretty Deadly is definitely worth your time, and Emma Rios, Kelly Sue Deconnick and Jordie Bellaire’s Eisner nominations are well deserved.