Joelle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Laura Allred
Dark Horse, $17.99
Confession: I love it when artists are credited before writers on comics. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of books I buy currently because I love the writer/writers involved, so I’m not saying this out of spite. But more times than not, an artist is the reason a why I’ll check out a book I’m totally unfamiliar with, and are the deciding factor as to if I will stay with it or not.
On paper, the premise of Lady Killer doesn’t appeal to me much, which is why I initally passed over it. A housewife who’s secretly a hired killer set in the 50s really doesn’t do much for me, either though I’m a fan of books with female leads. But the book was getting some solid buzz, and I eventually reconsidered my stance seeing how good the art was. So yeah, Dark Horse crediting Joelle Jones first on the cover of the Lady Killer trade was a smart move. Jones is an artist I had zero familiarity with coming into this series, but offers a lot to like once you see her work. The best way to describe her art style is Annie Wu (Hawkeye, Black Canary) mashed up with EC Horror comics, as her art on this book is gorgeous, but also extremely gory. Lady Killer is not for those with low tolerances for the ultra violence, so if if the cover disturbs you, you should stay away.
Those who don’t mind watching fictional people die violent deaths are in for a treat. Aside from some gorgeous line art from Jones, Laura Allred colors the hell out of this book. Allred goes faux-retro by keeping her palette monotone, which mixes nicely with the splattered inks from Jones, giving the book a gritty, dirty look. I also like the specific shade of red Allred went with (no pun intended), as it’s bold to the point where it’s noticeable, stressing the importance of that color in the book. It’s a very cool visual trick that I dug a lot, and given her past work on such books on FF!, Silver Surfer and iZombie, made her a perfect fit for this book. The artists also deserve credit for keeping the outfits, settings and color scheme very period accurate, going a long well to sell the book’s premise.
I haven’t talked much about Jamie S. Rich, the book’s co-creator and writer. Rich is another creator I’m unfamiliar with, but his work on Lady Killer is pretty solid. The dialogue is pretty straight forward, feeling slightly restricted, and making the book come off as quiet as time. It feels like he held back on filling the books with character talking in order to let Jones win the audience over with her art. It’s a smart move, as her work is stunning, and it makes the dialogue seem all the more important when the characters do speak. I’m also a fan of some of the humor injected into the book, granted it’s pretty dark, the black humor is totally fitting for a book like this. Less is more with Lady Killer, and Rich does hint at some intriguing concepts throughout the book, leaving me wanting to know more about the world, but still satisfied with what I got.
Lady Killer isn’t the most original book you’ll read this year, as several plot points and themes will feel familiar to anyone who’s familiar with Ed Brubaker or Greg Rucka‘s works. But it’s a visually stunning ultra violent ride with a fun, sexy vibe to it as well. It’s a fun mini that tells a complete story, and is definitely worth your time if you want something heavy on the action.