Death Becomes Her (Pretty Deadly: The Rat #1 Comic Review)

Script Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art & Cover Emma Ríos

Coloring Jordie Bellaire

Lettering Clayton Cowles

Blackmatter Laurenn McCubbin

Editor Sigrid Ellis

Managing Editor Lauren Sankovitch

“Grief has a cry all its own.”

In This Issue: Hollywoodland. Miss Clara Fields has been found dead. The police think it’s a suicide, but only time will tell whether or not they are correct. Clara’s next of kin, her Uncle Frank (otherwise known as the Conjure Man), is left to deal with the aftermath. What Clara has left behind is a mystery. A story created on a strip of film. A story about a girl, and the monsters who plagued her—the Reaper of Hunger, the Reaper of Thirst, the Reaper of Obsession. The ending, though? That’s an unknown. The tape simply stops at the introduction of the third reaper. Frank, who has long shut out the supernatural in favor of showmanship, tunes back in to his origins.

He conjures up the Reaper of Vengeance—Death’s daughter—and asks what happened to his niece.

My Two Cents: DeConnick and Ríos have an incredible book going here. There are two previous arcs to this story, neither of which I’ve read, but (to a point, at least,) that doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue. They very politely recapped the previous events in a quick blurb at the beginning of this issue and that gave enough of a framework to move forward with some idea of what I was getting in to. The story has three obvious layers, described by DeConnick as:

“…the Super-Narrative, wherein Bunny tells the story to Butterfly; the Immortal Narrative, wherein we learn about the World Garden’s Immortal Reapers; and the Mortal Narrative, wherein we follow the story of Sarah Fields and her progeny.”

The gist of that is that there is a whole heck of a lot going on in the world of Pretty Deadly. Supporting a narrative as complicated as this through art must be enormously challenging, but it seems that Ríos is more than capable of tackling even the most demanding combinations of styles—the previous two volumes of Pretty Deadly have merged the Weird Western with the Spanish Cantares de Cego and the Warcomic in the style of a Chinese parable, respectively, so this mashup of a Noir comic with Lotte Reiniger-esque animation isn’t anything out of the norm for this series.

Pretty Deadly has already established itself as a powerhouse of story and art, and this third arc is shaping up to be no less intriguing and beautifully executed as the previous two, which I will be procuring for my personal collection as soon as is humanly possible.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Elizabeth Fazzio

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Summary
The instant I saw the cover for this book I thought 'Lotte Reiniger'. Fun fact, my MA is in puppetry, and I did a great deal of work with shadow puppets back in the day. Lotte Reiniger was a GODDESS of shadows and negative space, and while her work was in film rather than live production, her style and techniques were groundbreaking for their time and are still very easily recognizable today. I am SUPER EXCITED for the rest of the issues in this arc from a purely artistic standpoint, and the story is also delightfully layered and compelling which makes for a well-rounded and meaningful read.
Good
  • Execution of magical realism
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Layered storytelling
Bad
  • This issue felt a bit short...
9
Amazing
Art - 9
Story - 9
Writing - 9
Predictability - 9
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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