Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Wednesday Review: Pretty Pretty Deadly

Pretty Deadly 1 is the debut creator-owned comic from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios, and it's pretty awesome. The story doesn't quite hook you from the start as the issue is clearly set-up, but what is there is, yes, pretty, and also dirty and bloody and violent, too. A western, it opens with a stunning page two a little girl blowing the head off a bunny and some dialog we don't yet know the context for. The scene shifts to a town, one of those late 1800 American old west towns, full of saloons and whorehouses and horses and dust and folks carrying guns . An (apparently) blind old man and a little girl cloaked in black feathers have rolled in with their snake-oil cart ready to push their wares. Except their wares are stories, and she gleefully tells a pretty dark story about the daughter of Death. After they leave town, they are set upon by shady ill-doers while back in town the daughter of Death shows up, scares the bejeezus out of everybody, and then picks up the trail of the old man and the girl. For some reason. It's not quite clear who the players are and what their motivations may be. Despite the hint of fantasy, everything else about Pretty Deadly is down and dirty western, and the final page is wonderful. Rios's fine, high-energy, high-style line and Jordie Bellaire's colors just nail the visuals. The story still needs developing but is still solid enough; I'll stick around to see where this goes.

Velvet 1 is Ed Brubaker's latest noir-ish book, this time with the superb art of his long-time Marvel collaborator Steve Epting. A grounded spy thriller, Velvet is about the British spy agency's secretary who is also a badass spy herself. One of their best agents gets killed in the field, another agent is set-up for the crime, and Velvet gets caught somewhere in between.  Brubaker and Epting work well together, so the two doing espionage stuff feels natural. And while its nice to see them doing spycraft outside a sci-fi superhero universe, the book doesn't really crackle. Epting kills it on the art, but the story, featuring every comfortable spy-fiction convention including an eye-rolling frame-up at the end, is just flat.

The Massive 16 sees Kapital and crew going up against old-timey sailboat whalers (because its not like there's anything else going on). This series is still so maddeningly uneven. Mind MGMT 16, on the other hand, is still so consistently superb, with issue  exploring with a stunning science fiction novel counterpoint. And Kindt's art manages to get more and more assured. This is some of mainstream's finest stuff. Sex Criminals 2 focuses on John this issue, and the exploration of his sexual identity and sexual superpowers is just as heartfelt and entertaining as the first issue's look at Suzie. 

Young Avengers 11 takes a twist (and a big cast expansion for next issue), FF 13 has some Allred-cubed Watcher-action, and Ultimate Spider-Man 28 has Miles accepting the burden of his future while Roxxon drops some knowledge. Plus there's a sweet new Hellboy graphic novel with Fegredo, Midnight Circus out today.

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