Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Pretty Deadly

Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios Pretty Deadly (2014)
This was a slightly bewildering Christmas present given to my wife, who is hardly known for her love of comic books, or even for actually having read one since she was about seven. It has ended up in my hands rather than the recycle bin mainly so as to avoid everyone involved having to feel bad about the exchange.

Pretty Deadly is a supernatural western, so far as I'm able to tell. It makes much use of mythology, although I have no idea whether its vaguely defined cast of skeletal bunny, vulture, and fox refers to anything culturally specific or is something more general, and unfortunately the story itself doesn't really do much to help out. To be frank, I have no idea what happens - something about Death having a daughter - and after three of the five issues collected here it becomes fairly difficult to care. The dialogue, what little there is of it, is nice enough, but it's anyone's guess as to what the hell it has to do with anything. It actually reminds me of a very specific form of overly earnest teenage poetry of the kind where every other fucking line is a variation on am I who I think I am, or am I someone else? In fact, it's not a million miles from those later issues of Sandman after Neil Gaiman eschewed telling a story in favour of endless drippy references to Shakespeare. I loves me some flamboyantly esoteric, but there are limits, and after a dozen pages of this one you begin to get a hankering for a fucking Archie comic.

Much stock is made of the artwork of Emma Rios, at least on the internet where I have found it described as breathtaking, and references are made to her drawing inspiration from all sorts of sources - manga being one, which doesn't really work for me as I couldn't care less about manga or the big-eyed horse it rode in on. Her art is good, even great in places, but breathtaking?


Well I suppose Pretty Deadly is all right if you like that sort of thing, plenty of style without much in the way of content, the visual equivalent of Nick Cave pinching off yet another tune-free dirge about some cockmongler strangling his wife in 1878. I just think a few captions to explain what the fuck is going on every couple of pages might have helped.

Not one of Santa's better choices, I'm afraid.

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