Comic Vine Review


Pretty Deadly #3 Review


What does The Fox see?

The Good

If "Western" conjures up an image of tumbleweeds lazily crossing a landscape, accompanied by equally slow, dry, plots, allow PRETTY DEADLY to disavow you of that notion. With every issue, we learn more about the dangerous, mythically-infused world that DeConnick and Rios have dreamed up, and there's no room for tumbleweeds amidst a river of blood or a mad chase.

The third issue of this remarkable series calls out the importance of every character; Fox and Sissy aren't just vehicles to Deathface Ginny, they're principals in their own right, and have truly interesting stories. DeConnick is calculating in her execution of this story, allowing every element to be introduced with a very natural context and pacing, then revealing important details (backstory, motivation) where it fits best.

For readers who may have encountered some confusion after the first two issues: there's a handy recap that clears up exactly what was going on with that binder, Big Alice, and the rest. This issue, too, is strong on the exposition angle, and will quickly fill in histories and motivations that may not have been as evident before.

The power combo of Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire continues to stun with fluid, expressive brush strokes, tonally-perfect palettes, and dynamic, evocative panel layouts. The pages of PRETTY DEADLY are intricate -- inviting further inspection -- but not at the cost of clear, expressive storytelling. The "pretty" part of the title is one hundred percent executed in its panels; the art on this book is fantastic.

The Bad

Emma Rios draws wonderful human beings, but I think readers may be more intimately familiar with Johnny (and his companion) than they expected to be. I have no objection to nudity or sexuality in comics, but aside from establishing that Johnny is really into brothels, I'm not sure why he's almost always naked. (On a totally selfish note, it just makes those pages super awkward to read at the office!)

The Verdict

PRETTY DEADLY is unlike anything else being published right now; it's a twist on the Western genre that has become very much its own story, infused with myth, mystery, and plenty of blood. DeConnick & Co. have crafted a fierce and unpredictable narrative, and continue to deliver it in the form of clever and beautiful pages. The late-2013 class of Image debuts has been impressive, and PRETTY DEADLY has been a gem among them.

10 Comments Refresh
Posted by Hawkguy

I was worried this series would remind me too much of East of West but it hasn't at all and I'm so happy! Really enjoying this series.

It came to a budget draw today at my store and I had to choose Pretty Deadly or Zero. It was tough but PD came through.

Posted by longbowhunter

@hawkguy: Too bad we aren't neighbors. I bought Zero and not Pretty Deadly. Could of swapped comics like middle aged suburban couples swap wives.

Posted by akbogert

Pretty Deadly is always "jaw-dropping" in a descriptive sense but the last couple pages of this issue's story actually dropped my jaw. Didn't see that coming.

Posted by MissJ

@akbogert: I agree! It was totally surprising, and totally cool.

Edited by ceniza

Jhonny being almost naked should be commendable in a medium filled with gratuitiously hyper-sexualized girls running around.

Posted by MissJ

@ceniza: Is it a 'tit for tat' (no pun intended) situation?

My line of thinking is that the story is pretty rad, but the nudity/sex doesn't add anything to it. There's male nudity in other books (I'm thinking about SATELLITE SAM and SEX CRIMINALS right now) that is necessary for a scene to hit its beats or for the story to make sense, but naked Johnny is just kinda...there. He could talk to the crow with pants on.

Edited by MatKrenz

Yeah, I dropped Pretty Deadly like a sack of bricks. I have no idea what the plot is because the story telling is so over complicated and a tad bit pretentious at times. The arts pretty but thats not enough to keep reading for me.

Edited by akbogert

@ceniza said:

Jhonny being almost naked should be commendable in a medium filled with gratuitiously hyper-sexualized girls running around.

I think the keyword there is "gratuitous." We expect it from the comic industry at large, but it's disappointing to see it in a book for which I at least have higher standards. I agree with Jen: it doesn't add anything to the scene, and for some readers it definitely takes away.

Posted by miilkshake

I dunno that it did nothing for the scene. I think it was important for Johnny to be in some way overcome by a vice at this point. Could the same effect have been derived from him sitting at a bar, surrounded my empty shot glasses? Sure. But it was necessary to show him becoming complacent in order to drag him out of that comfort zone and into whatever dangers lie ahead.

It's like the opening narrative line of his first page says, "Fear makes fools of us all." This depiction showed the fool Johnny was becoming as a result of his own fear.

Posted by CaptainHoopla

This book is excellent. It really feels like a ground breaking work of storytelling art. The child of a thousand violent deaths, wow.