Comic Vine Review

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Pretty Deadly #5 Review

4

The Mason. The Beast. Death's Daughter. Death. Who will emerge victorious (or even alive)?

The Good

PRETTY DEADLY arrives at its fifth issue -- the last in its opening arc -- quicker than Johnny's draw, and neatly wraps up the Western-cloaked myth it began just under six months ago. It's confrontation time, there are no more delays or excuses, and the very nature of life and death is on the line.

Visually, PRETTY DEADLY is an exercise in exhaustive attention to detail. Issue after issue, Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire render something on the page in the order of hundreds -- feathers, butterflies, swirls of smoke -- and while I shudder for their wrists, I can't help but enjoy the beauty of these pages. Careful palette selection, obsessively detailed line art, and subtly textured rendering have been the hallmarks of this truly stunning genre piece, and month after month, I nearly expect dust to fall out of the pages.

The setting isn't the only area of artistic note; Rios' fight choreography is swirling and cinematic, and it's breathtaking just how much action she fits into each panel. The snakes in the opening aren't just a device for conveying deeper themes; they're an analogue for this issue's action (and we're the king snake who gets to devour these pages).

Plot-wise, PRETTY DEADLY closes its initial arc in a satisfying way; everyone is accounted for, there are no dangling threads, and every character seems to be acting authentically. Even Bones Bunny has an appropriate connection to the story at hand, and the narrative feels thoughtful and planned.

The Bad

The ballad-like opening issue and the grandness of a story involving Death and his legacy set a subtle expectation of a long, rambling tale for Fox, Sissy, Ginny, and the rest, so it feels strangely abrupt that the first arc is already complete. PRETTY DEADLY has kept a quick pace throughout, so the swiftness of this month's conclusion shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but there's enough interesting stuff going on that it almost feels as though the arc could have stretched across ten or more issues.

I've been conditioned by most comic books into expecting certain trappings of serial narrative -- hints, hooks, cliffhangers, and such. PRETTY DEADLY drops very few of those as it closes its first arc, and while I'm not sure that it's truly a bad, the firm conclusion of Volume One and the absence of a substantive tease for Volume Two makes me wonder what Deathface Ginny has left to do.

The Verdict

PRETTY DEADLY closes out its first arc with a beautifully-executed fifth issue. Loose ends are tied, exquisitely-choreographed action unfolds, and the fairy-tale-like framing device comes full circle. It's a run that will read well in trade (though trade-waiters will be shorted a set of incredibly thoughtful backmatter), and the title will be missed as the creative team takes a break before resuming Ginny's adventures.

7 Comments
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I'v been digging this book so far so I'm looking forward to reading this tomorrow.Emma Rios is amazing.

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Posted by iaconpoint

@jonny_anonymous: Agreed. The art in this book alone is worth the price of admission.

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

@jonny_anonymous: Agreed. The art in this book alone is worth the price of admission.

I could look at Emma Rios's art all day

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Posted by fables87

Can't wait to get this in trade format!

Posted by CaptainHoopla

This has been a great series and I still claim it has redefined the medium and how comic book stories can be told. My only occasional complaint is that the art doesn't always flow particularly well from panel to panel, particularly in the action/fight sequences. The artwork is stunningly gorgeous though. I have no idea where the next arc will be going, but I'll definitely be checking it out.

Posted by gunmetalgrey

@captainhoopla: I found the close-quarters knife fight particularly confusing. I had to make an effort to figure out whose arm is which and what exactly they were doing.

As for the direction of the next arc, I'd like to see them advance the timeline just a bit. Can you imagine all the detail of Emma Rios' art but in a more industrialized setting?