PRETTY DEADLY debuted today, and it's already many things. It's a Western. It's a fairy tale. It's a mystery. It's laden with nuance, structured like a grand epic, and absent of its main character until the last page without losing any story impact. It's a hell of a first issue.
World-building can be a laborious task for a creative team, but DeConnick and Rios effortlessly weave seeds of context into a mere twenty-odd pages. Everything is connected, though some things remain mysterious -- and it's satisfying in its connectedness while still inviting curiosity. The narrative lines themselves nest and intersect like a dance -- the bunny's conversation with the butterfly frames the glimpse of Sissy and Fox, leading us to their stage show, and ultimately to Ginny. It's smart, and everything unfolds in a way that feels completely natural in pace and direction.
PRETTY DEADLY marks Kelly Sue DeConnick's creator-owned debut, and I rather nearly want her to quit writing mainstream books and do this all the time. This issue is brilliantly framed, thoroughly unique, and confident in its voice. That we get bonus backmatter regarding DeConnick's personal path towards the series is a treat; the connectedness takes on a new character, beyond just the overlapping people and moments in the book, everything extends outside of the story world and into ours.
My goodness, Emma Rios. I'm not even sure where to start -- she's bringing her A-game to every element of these pages. Her layouts are stunning, and make overlapping stories (like the stage show and its implied flashbacks) occupy the same page space seamlessly. She draws the eye along a path, and fills that path with rich (if barren) environments and unique characters. I'm marveling at the level of detail -- the vulture cloak! -- and enjoying her sweeping brush strokes.
At Rose City Comic-Con, I saw Rios' uncolored pages. They were incredible, for reasons noted above. But colors? Colors make this world happen. Jordie Bellaire over Emma Rios is a fantastic pairing; there's so much life and so much motion (of note: the flame-laced flashback sequences in the stage show), and Bellaire's palettes serve as not-so-subtle hints at how to feel during every panel.
PRETTY DEADLY is a
pretty sure bet as far as new series go. It's inventive in narrative and layout, the world is robust and hints at layers of story waiting to burst out and make themselves known, and it's sweetly compelling even amidst dour settings and pointed violence. DeConnick is a master of allegory, and the first issue prompts an immediate need to read the next, just to watch things unfold and reveal themselves. Every glimpse of a character, hint at an event, and passing reference is perfectly crafted, so the narrative moves forward atop frequent, small moments that beg further exploration. I don't want the next issue; I want the next twelve issues.