“Try Something New.” That challenge is the whole reason for this feature’s existence. Month in and month out we buy the comics we know and love, the ones we look forward to every time but there are countless series that travel under our radar, ones that we just don’t give a chance and get passed by. That’s why I made a vow: every week I’d pick up an issue for a series that wasn’t on my pull-list in the hopes of finding a hidden gem. Welcome to Off The Shelf where we’ll discover if my leap of faith paid dividends this week. Also, I should mention that there be SPOILERS in this review. You are warned!
Pretty Deadly #1Publisher
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos
Prior Experience With Title
None, though I’m pretty much in the same boat as most people considering this is a brand new property. All I knew was that it is a Western with a female character as its lead. Other than that, I’m pretty clueless.
Why Did I Give It A Shot?
I gave it a shot not because of the concept but because of the creative team involved on this series. DeConnick is a great writer and Emma Rios’ art is so, so good. I challenge you to take a look at that cover and not be intrigued!
We open with a young girl shooting a rabbit. The rabbit and a butterfly are discussing the incident (after he is killed no less) and then the butterfly wants to be told her story. “From the beginning?”, he asks but the butterfly tells him to skip to the part with the other girl. We shift our focus to this girl, named Sissy, who wears a feathered vulture cloak and a blind gentleman known as Fox. The two of them are regaling the onlookers of this quaint Western town with a story about a woman named Beauty. This woman was gorgeous with all the men lusting after her. She is eventually taken by a gentleman named Mason as his bride but he fears that he’ll lose her to other men and thusly sentences her to live out her life inside an inescapable tower. Overcome with grief, she tries to take her life, begging for Death to take her. Interested by her plight, Death visits her and subsequently falls in love with her. He eventually grants her wish of death but not before she bares him a child. The story ends with Death naming his daughter Ginny and raising her as a Reaper to hunt men who have sinned. With the tale complete, Sissy and Fox ask for payment from the townsfolk for the entertainment they have provided. One creepy gentleman questions Sissy about her eyes being two different colors before grabbing her and forcing payment onto her, tearing her vulture cloak in the process. Sissy and Fox leave the town but are later ambushed by some thieves but Fox, despite his apparent blindness, is mysteriously able to shoot all three attackers.
We then shift the focus of the story to a whore house where a large, terrifying woman named Big Alice has arrived looking for Johnny, the man who had previously torn Sissy’s cloak. She shoots Johnny and then demands to be shown the binder which he reveals to be in his vest pocket after the threat of being shot once again is implied. Big Alice checks his vest only to find a single feather from Sissy’s vulture cloak which prompts Johnny to tell her that she is too late, it is done now. We journey back to Sissy and Fox who are situated around a campfire, Sissy burning a page of the stolen papers to light Fox’s cigarette, the page burning green. The sight of this burning green page and the admission by Sissy that she lifted it off of Johnny causes Fox to leap into action and he rushes everyone (the pair have taken in the bandaged up crooks who had attempted to rob them) onto their feet and onto their horses. The troop heads to the house of a woman who knows Fox. They rest for a bit before Fox rallies everyone to head out the next day, not wanting to stop for anything, worried about the events that have transpired. Before going, Sissy tells the story of Ginny to one of the woman’s children as the issue ends with out our first glimpse of the elusive title character.
Butterfly: Bunny, do you remember when we met?
Bunny: Yes, Butterfly. How could I forget?
Butterfly: On that day, were you afraid, Bunny?
Bunny: I was afraid, Butterfly. For a moment. For a moment, I feared her like the bud about to blossom fears the sun.
Sissy: With no one else to talk to, Beauty prayed to the cold God that made her–and she begged for Death to take her. He ought to have sent a reaper, but when he heard her sad song from above he went himself for the girl and the end of the world began when Death fell in love. He stayed too long in that tower, and his heart grew desperate and wild til he gave what she asked and Death wept as she passed for Beauty left Death with a child.
Fox: Never was my eyes that pained me, Sarah. …It was always what they saw.
Sissy: If you done been wronged…say her name, sing this song…Ginny rides for you on the wind, my child. …Death rides on the wind.
Final Verdict: A confusing opening left me a little disoriented but the lovely visuals from Rios cannot be denied. I loved how DeConnick held off on introducing the main character until the very end of the story which only succeeded in making me even more intrigued. Regardless, I left this issue with uncertainty as I’m not quite sure if I should continue with this series or not. I don’t know what it is (maybe it’s because of my dislike for Westerns) but something felt off for me. I came in really wanting to like this book and…I just don’t know. Thusly, for the first time ever, I’m Undecided. I’m going to check out the second issue and see if it swings me one way or the other…