Pretty Deadly #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki


    Ginny Deathface rides on the wind. Between her fingers, a feather fallen from a vulture’s cloak, worn by young Sissy, a traveling storyteller who shares with captive audiences the tale of Death’s lover and the child of his union. With her companion and guardian, Fox, she shares in poetic prose, legends of prison towers, summonings and the end of the world, all under the sinister ambiance of a dangling noose. This all begins with the bloody murder of innocence at the hands of a frightened girl and a request to skip ahead. The story regaled is one of chase, magic, beauty and death, all told by a Bunny to a Butterfly.

Ginny rides for you on the wind, my child


    The first ongoing creator-owned series from Kelly Sue Deconnick (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Ghost) and Emma Rios (Prophet, Doctor Strange: Season One), Pretty Deadly, is an enthralling mashup of fairy tale, western and apocalypse fiction with a very dark and lyrical tone. A poetic narrative style and a cast of mysterious players are beautifully on display as Bunny tells Butterfly a story about death and a girl who is pursued by it. Set in a cold, dry and unforgiving wild west, this first issue is a snapshot of violent times where riders on black steeds burst in without welcome, riflemen fire at blind wanderers and the trembling hands of a child holds a smoking six-gun.


    The first installment of Pretty Deadly is an excellent example of one of the most exciting voices in modern comics today, Kelly Sue Deconnick. Featuring boldly-realized characterization and haunting backdrops that set the stage for a truly evocative world, the comic’s overall tone is simultaneously uneasy and hurried as Sissy and Fox race away from the clutches of a pale-face outlaw. The reason for this pursuit is a hook that will keep the pace of a so far ambiguous relationship a compelling facet that teases your senses and begs your attention. Narrative voices that flow through the pages and layers of Pretty Deadly are adeptly scripted and lushly paint the action with a nursery rhyme feel, both eerie and beautiful. Deconnick’s work in the pages of this first ongoing are inspiring, passionate and raw, extending into a very personal backmatter section charting the history of the book’s creation and Deconnick’s own journey throughout the years. Hopefully this is a book that will herald her talent for mature audiences in addition to her powerful work over in the Marvel camp.


    Producing one of the most beautiful issues to be released this year, Emma Rios delivers an absolutely stunning array of western aesthetic, mystical elements and gunslinging action. Her art is one that really creates a sense of cinematic movement throughout the book and elicits an anxiety while quick shots of limbs are scattered masterfully across the page. A great example of this in action is a sequence where a simple addition of Sissy’s terror drenched, wide-open eye places the reader in a position of dread that is palpable and chilling. The layout of particular pages, for example the Song of Deathface Ginny, are incredibly busy yet all the while very smooth transitionally. As well as her incredible work within the book we also get a wrap around cover from Rios and the image of Ginny dipping her hand into the smooth reflection of a lake of the dead while Bone-Bunny looks broken and curious on the back is a perfect jacket for the book.


    Another on the creative team that needs mentioning is the ever stellar Jordie Bellaire, who’s colour work on a myriad of titles from Image comics and many others always stands out and her work in Pretty Deadly is another for the ever expanding Win column that is her career in comics.


    Featuring lots of back-matter, elements of mystery and uncertainty, creative pacing and narrative, outstanding artwork and a well matched collaboration, Pretty Deadly #1 is a great start to a series that should be on everyone’s pull list.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior

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