Pretty Deadly 10 (June 2016)

Pretty Deadly #10

Pretty Deadly wraps up its second arc with the series’s standard mix of action and humanism. Standard isn’t a pejorative; creators DeConnick and Rios have always taken a singular approach to genre with the comic. They refuse to firmly foot in any–this arc is a WWI story and the story of a black family in 1918(?) America–they also refuse to rely on any genre tropes, yet there’s always a familiarity with them. Pretty Deadly is an intentionally tough comic to digest. The digestion process is where DeConnick and Rios are able to affect the reader the most.

About half this issue is resolution to the arc, which suggests a single sitting read of the arc might be in order, and the other half is mostly action. Except it’s Rios’s mystical, yet very physical, action. There’s a fluidity to the movement in the mystical action–the reader has to find their own entry point and then follow the movement across the page. Lots of full page spreads here–again, it’s the last issue in the arc, so there need to be money shots. Rios fills them with glorious dread.

While DeConnick wraps up for the arc’s new characters, she does make a few hints to Deadly’s future. But as Pretty Deadly moves across time periods–it started as a Western–DeConnick opens it up more. The implications of the mystical world of the Reapers aren’t just how it relates to the present action of the arc. DeConnick and Rios are gradually introducing a much bigger world.

Pretty Deadly is simultaneously loud and quiet, thrilling and reserved. It’s an excellent comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 9 (April 2016)

Pretty Deadly #9

Pretty Deadly is such a strange book. Rios’s art is perfect. She’s got a fable to do, the World War I battlefield, the mystical stuff. It’s all perfect. She’s controlled in showing the horrific nature of combat, very precise. The comic is visually unsettling, which is an ideal match for DeConnick’s approach to the script. It’s meticulous while still being confusing.

With Deadly, I always wonder if reading it three times an issue, then again in the trade, would be the best way to get all of it. DeConnick has so much going on–and toggles between things (you’ve got to love how she basically is doing traditional, juxtaposed comic book action), plus there’s the fable to figure in.

It’s serious work. I think I love that aspect of Pretty Deadly the most. It’s very, very serious. Rios and DeConnick aren’t messing around. If there’s a smile in the issue (and I don’t think there is one this issue), it’s because DeConnick is letting the reader have it. Mystical embodiments of war and death aren’t funny. The First World War isn’t funny. It’s not a gag. It’s a backdrop for DeConnick and Rios’s explorations.

I’ll read all again someday, once it’s finished. I want that experience.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 8 (February 2016)

Pretty Deadly #8

Pretty Deadly has become a book I savor. DeConnick and Rios have lost their Western setting–though it does still play a part visually and thematically–and gotten into World War I. The trenches. Deadly has become a war comic.

Except the magic is different. It’s still evil, bad magic, but it doesn’t affect the war comic’s protagonist in the same way it did in the series’s first arc. He’s far more the subject of the plot than an actor in it. That narrative distance works because of both DeConnick and Rios’s individual contributions.

When the comic moves between subplots, Rios has subtle changes in style. Sometimes in the level of detail, sometimes in figures’ fluidity. There’s a flow to Deadly, weaving between the subplots.

Pretty Deadly is a confusing, dense read. DeConnick relies on Rios to help make it easier to read while also contributing to the density. DeConnick doesn’t want any grounding to the supernatural. It’s not science, it’s not quantum physics, it’s supernatural. Accepting it–and not dwelling on it–is one of the series’s agreements with the reader. DeConnick doesn’t allow any alternatives.

And, yet, she isn’t hostile about it. Pretty Deadly goes out of its way to be welcoming. It’s endearing–and even makes the really disturbing villains endearing.

It’s really good. This issue isn’t one of the best either. And it’s still really good.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 6 (November 2015)

Pretty Deadly #6

I missed Pretty Deadly. I forgot what it was like to read a comic aware of its genre possibilities, acknowledging of them to some degree, but entirely disinterested in taking part. As a result, the comic is its own thing, something strange and ethereal and beautiful from DeConnick and Rios.

This issue definitely starts off a new arc, dealing with the descendants of the previous characters (set in World War I, at home and in France). DeConnick doesn’t introduce or reintroduce anyone (the text prologue has very little to do with the majority of the issue). Instead, it’s just time to read Pretty Deadly again.

The amount of work Rios and DeConnick put into the visual construction of the comic is reason alone to read it. It’s cohesive, yet full of little visual sequences–not subplots as much as narrative tangents–all with a mildly different approach.

DeConnick’s thoughtful, deliberate characterizations keep it from ever getting too hostile to distracted readers. Even though there’s a fantastical, dreary, magical world, because the characters are able to navigate it, so is the reader.

It’s great to have it back.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Island 2 (August 2015)

Island #2

Simon Roy starts a story this issue. Some sort of futuristic thing with the plants having grown over everything and people living a savage existence. With cannibalism, he hints, but also secret replicators and lasers. It’s cool. It’s really well-done. It’s just too soon to tell if he’s got anything amazing up his narrative sleeves. With Roy’s level of detail–it’s gorgeous art–it’s hard not to think style above substance, but he’s so careful with the content… maybe it’ll be something great.

And Emma Rios finishes up her mind-transfer story. It’s okay. The art overly stylized–black and white but with different colors for the black depending on scene (and not dark colors, like light red)–but Rios’s panel compositions and her panel transitions are amazing. The story’s kind of bleh, but the structure of the visual narrative makes it worthwhile.

I forgot to mention the Ludroe story about the cats and the skaters. It’s back. It’s dumb. I think I liked the art more this time but the story’s even stupider. I’m definitely not the audience for it.

CREDITS

Contributors, Will Kirkby, Ludroe, Simon Roy, Emma Rios and Robin Bougie; publisher, Image Comics.

Island 1 (July 2015)

Island #1

Island is an anthology series. I didn’t realize it was an anthology series with multiple creators and stories per issue. It feels like Dark Horse Presents, actually. Maybe a bit more indie, but basically it’s DHP. And being the new DHP is fine because the new DHP hasn’t done it.

There are three stories–one from Emma Rios, one from Brandon Graham (who’s also the editor of Island) and one from Ludroe. They’re all open-minded so they can continue. Two of them are all right. Ludroe’s skating thing isn’t my cup of tea. There’s no writing to it (besides alleycats being a gang of talking cats), no constraint.

Rios’s story is okay. The sci-fi setting being background to the characters is nice and some of the art’s good (not the action though).

Graham’s story is craziness and wonderfulness. He gloriously trumps continuity and expectation with ambition and exploration.

CREDITS

Contributors, Marian Churchland, Emma Rios, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Brandon Graham and Ludroe; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 5 (April 2014)

Pretty Deadly #5

DeConnick has a decent finish for the end of the first Pretty Deadly arc. There’s something missing, like she rushed through resolving the showdown in order to get to the next showdown. It’s hurried and there’s little sense of the journey the characters take.

There’s also a lot of narration through the issue–the framing sequence has never felt so prevalent. The characters all become the subject of this narration and no longer the leads in it.

Still, Rios’s art is gorgeous and DeConnick gets in some good character moments. There’s just not enough room for all the things they’re imagining. It feels undeveloped, especially when it comes to the big finale. There’s a mix of action and character stuff and neither really gets the deserved amount of attention.

Deadly has been able to be confusing and rewarding at the same time. Here, DeConnick tries too hard to be intelligible.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 4 (January 2014)

Pretty deadly 04

A real cast list. All I ask for is a real cast list. It’s got to make sense–and even I figured out the main girl’s destiny–but a cheat sheet would be so helpful. I probably could look online, couldn’t I?

But I like being off balance with Pretty Deadly. Something about Rios’s art makes discovering story connections, instead of worrying about them before reading, a more pleasing reading experience.

This issue might have DeConnick’s first tranquil scene in the series–Death talking to his love (more her talking to him). It’s a strange, beautiful, sad scene.

There’s also a big fight scene. Rios does fine with it, but it goes on way too long. Rios has a lyrical quality to her action, especially this fight–told mostly in long shots–and the horizontal panels get a wee long in the tooth.

DeConnick’s setting up for something rather big.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 3 (December 2013)

290028 20131127114217 large

The issue opens with a recap of the previous issues. Only it’s more confusing than anything else–DeConnick has so much going on, what with mixing a Western with the supernatural and all. The recap implies someone might actually be able to follow the comic… and, if one out there is following the story without taking notes, more power to them.

But I tend to think Pretty Deadly works so well because it doesn’t need to make sense necessarily. Not along the way. Along the way, DeConnick writes good scenes and Rios draws good scenes and they all add up to something in the end.

It’s still a Western after all. These guys are doing this thing over here, those guys are looking for the first guys and so on. The rest of it doesn’t matter too much. The details make Deadly different, but it’s a Western; a good one.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 2 (November 2013)

290028 20131127114217 large

I want to see DeConnick’s script for this comic, just because I want to know how much Rios comes up with on her own and how much is already in the script. Because there’s a lot I can’t imagine someone getting from just the text of a script. There’s a big action sequence too and that action is very straightforward (compared to the rest of the comic) but the scenes leading up to the action? They’re bewildering.

As a rule, Westerns tend to be obvious. Probably because the genre started in mainstream filmmaking. Pretty Deadly isn’t just revisionist because it’s about women or non-whites; DeConnick and Rios are trying tell their story in the most confrontational way they can find. Not just for a Western either… it’s hard to think of another comic demanding so much of its reader.

They’re successful in their efforts. Maybe not entirely, but enough.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Pretty Deadly 1 (October 2013)

287188 20131023124715 large

I think Pretty Deadly is off to a good start but it’s hard to say for sure. Kelly Sue DeConnick is doing a maybe supernaturally themed Western and, if she’s not, she’s doing revisionist Western. Or she’s doing both at once.

After this first issue, I think the revisionism is clear–she and artist Emma Rios are looking at female characters in the Old West. More, the protagonist of the comic is a kid. It’s not clear how old she’s supposed to be, probably twelve or thirteen; she and an old blind guy apparently go from town to town and tell stories for tips. The storytelling sequence is real rough going. Rios goes wild with it. The enthusiasm gets it through.

The second half of the issue reveals the problem–the kid, Sissy, she stole something she shouldn’t have. Now there’s the bad woman after her.

Deadly’s competent and interesting.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 26 (June 2012)

Prophet #26

Except for Emma Rios’s Coil backup story, this issue of Prophet is unlike any other. Graham handles the art chores himself, telling the story of a drone who wakes up to help Prophet.

Maybe. It’s a little unclear and the drone is a combination of organic and mechanical. Maybe. It’s unclear.

Graham sends the little drone on an adventure to save his fellow drone, then off into space to send a message to Prophet. There’s a lot of space travel, a lot of the drone just thinking about its existence. It’s a pensive issue of Prophet and a beautiful one.

The opening features the standard Prophet grandiose landscapes, but the finale takes place on a planetoid and Graham does a lovely job on the art. It’s breathtaking.

Rios’s backup is solid. A man tries to escape a larger organism from the inside. While never gross, it’s always a little slimy.

A 

CREDITS

Prophet; writer, artist and colorist, Brandon Graham; letterer, Ed Brisson. Coil: a clone story; writer, artist and letterer, Emma Rios; colorist, Roque Romero. Editor, Eric Stephenson; publisher, Image Comics.

Girl Comics 1 (May 2010)

718958.jpg

Marvel should have tried harder with Girl Comics. It’s way too easy just to say, Girl Comics is bad comics.

The opening from Colleen Coover is weak. It’s so trite, the story featuring Nightcrawler getting saved by a nameless woman (writing by G. Willow Wilson, art by Ming Doyle) doesn’t seem so bad. The writing’s weak, but the art isn’t.

The next story, a Venus story (which breaks Atlas continuity), is okay. Trina Robbins’s script is okay and the Stephanie Buscema retro good girl art is nice.

Valerie D’Orazio and Nikki Brown then do a surprisingly effective Punisher tale. It’s contrived, but also sort of great.

Lucy Knisley has a cute Doctor Octopus cartoon.

Then it’s Robin Furth and Agnes Garbowska doing an illustrated text adventure for the Richards kids. Garbowska’s art is fantastic, making up for the rushed text.

Devin Grayson and Emma Rios’s X-Men finale is awful.

CREDITS

Introduction; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Colleen Coover. Moritat; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Ming Doyle; colorist, Cris Peter; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Venus; writer, Trina Robbins; artist and colorist, Stephanie Buscema; letterer, Kristyn Ferretti. A Brief Rendezvous; writer, Valerie D’Orazio; artist, Nikki Cook; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Ferretti. Shop Doc; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Lucy Knisley. Clockwork Nightmare; writer, Robin Furth; artist and colorist, Agnes Garbowska; letterer, Ferretti. Head Space; writer, Devin Grayson; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Sana Amanat, Rachel Pinnelas and Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 5 (June 2011)

1790149-osborn5_super.jpg

DeConnick brings Osborn to a depressingly lesser conclusion. She needed another issue. She fast forwards a few weeks and everything’s resolved. It provides a nice narrative device (a Congressional hearing) but it’s not satisfying at all. Worse is the decision to narrate from Norah the reporter.

Norah is, as Norman points out, not special. She’s ordinary in an extraordinary world and if DeConnick had any particular insight into her, I’d have loved to see a Marvels revamp by DeConnick and Rios. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any special insight because Norah’s a lame character. Instead of Veronica Mars, she’s barely Carrie from “Sex in the City.” Strange how gender works in the funny pages.

As for the art… Becky Cloonan isn’t on Rios’s level. I couldn’t identify Cloonan but a lot of the issue looked wrong.

It’s well-written and often beautifully illustrated, but it should’ve (and could’ve) been even better.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios and Becky Cloonan; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 4 (May 2011)

808597.jpg

So, yes, it turns out—unfortunately—I was right. Norman Osborn is a megalomaniac who needs an audience, so he keeps Norah the reporter alive. However, his sidekicks are very bad people who would not. But still they hang out with her. In fact, I wish Osborn was an issue longer because DeConnick has such a great time writing Norah with the supervillains.

By pairing Norah with Norman here, Rios gets to combine her two styles on the series and it’s no surprise the relatively calmer Norah art is moved aside for the frantic Norman art everywhere. The result is a visual feast—definitely the best art so far in the series.

DeConnick’s script continues to be really smart as well as engaging—setting Norman up against the Senator, turning her into the antagonist and toning Norman down to be a suitable protagonist finally… it all works.

It’s quite good.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 3 (April 2011)

799587.jpg

There’s a lot of great stuff in this issue of Osborn—my favorite is the way DeConnick mostly spends the non-Norman time with the senator, making it very different than what I expected. So after the utterly realistic scene where the Democrat senator realizes she’s getting blamed for sending Norman to a secret prison (shockingly, her Republican “friend” betrays her), DeConnick throws reality out the window.

Norah Winters has been present at Norman’s taking over the prison, up in an observation booth. He discovers her and brings her down to witness his return. Now, realistically, he’d have her torn into pieces or tortured or whatever. But he’s a supervillain, so he’s going to Bond villain her and bring her along. He hasn’t yet, but leaving her alive for a second makes it foreseeable.

And DeConnick’s otherwise thoughtful comic book becomes absurd.

It’s still good and the Rios art’s beautiful.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 2 (February 2011)

799584.jpg

Peter Parker fails to show up again this issue for more premarital sex, which is disappointing, but otherwise DeConnick is in fine form. Setting up a cult centered around Norman Osborn is a good plot point, as are some of the smaller developments. DeConnick knows how to tightly wind scenes and she’d probably do really well on a horror book.

Rios also continues to impress. She basically has the one style, but there’s intensity. Norman gets more feverish lines while the stuff at the Daily Bugle is far cleaner.

As for the Bugle, Norah Winters is still central to that side of the story. But Winters’s place at the paper, Marvel Universe or not, seems unrealistic. It feels like DeConnick is saddled with the cast and she’s having troubles making Winters work.

But all the Norman and supervillain stuff? It’s all great.

Osborn is, surprisingly or not, an excellent series.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 1 (January 2011)

skitched-20110618-115741.jpg

The first thing I noticed about Osborn is the Emma Rios artwork. She reminds of Paul Pope in a lot of ways. She’s very good, able to mix the implied evil and then the lighter comic moments with the Daily Bugle cast.

The second thing I noticed was the implication Peter Parker was rushing off a reporter to engage in some sort of sexual congress, possibility receiving the very clearly implied fellatio from his female colleague. I’m not up on my Spider-Man, so I don’t know if he’s dating her but it doesn’t seem like it. Does Disney know about this series?

Kelly Sue DeConnick is a smart writer, mixing the sensationalism (Norman Osborn’s a celebrity in the Marvel Universe, after all) with the more mundane newspaper reporting and prison procedures.

The Warren Ellis backup is cute (the Jamie McKelvie art helps on that front) but sort of unnecessary.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorists, José Villarrubia and Matt Wilson. The Prime of Miss June Covington; writer, Warren Ellis; artist, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Wilson. Letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Irredeemable Special 1 (April 2010)

is1.jpg

What a terrible comic.

I’m used to Irredeemable running hot and lukewarm and Incorruptible being awful–Waid’s incredibly inconsistent–and this special is anything but.

There are three stories. One’s a prologue, sort of, to the first issue of Irredeemable. It apparently hints at something the regular series will deal with. The second story might serve a similar purpose.

For the third story, Waid just ran out of ideas and did a little Incorruptible story with terrible, terrible, terrible Howard Chaykin artwork. How Chaykin is still an attraction for readers is beyond me… his art is just awful here.

The second story–with the Emma Rios art–is artistically solid. It looks like a Japanese fable or something, which is the point, and the art’s nice. The Paul Azaceta artwork on the first story’s mediocre at best. Azaceta runs hot and cold, colder here than hot.

It’s a real snoozer.

CREDITS

Hornet; artist, Paul Azaceta; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Kaidan; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Alfred Rockefeller. Max Damage; artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Andrew Dalhouse. Writer, Mark Waid; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Firestar 1 (June 2010)

firestar1.jpg

I’m used to poorly written first person female narration by a male writer (it’s called almost every comic book published today by either of the big two featuring a female character and lots of indie ones too). However, McKeever writing Captain Marvel (or Photon or whatever) to sound “black” is another story. I think he must have a “black woman” phrase book at his desk.

And don’t get me started on….

Oh, wow. McKeever equates surviving cancer to getting another life in a video game. What a brilliant observation. I usually like him well enough too, but this comic’s just terrible.

Rios’s artwork’s okay. It’s manga-influenced and very “girl power” in that flashy, meaningless Marvel way As I’ve always said, if Marvel or DC wants to make a strong bid for mature female readership, get a good female writer to write a female character, not a mediocre male one.

CREDITS

My New Life; writer, Sean McKeever; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Kristyn Ferretti; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: