Loz (blahflowers) wrote,
Loz
blahflowers

'Pretty Deadly Volume 1', 'One Soul'

So, in just a quick follow-up to my last rant, I've entirely stopped reading any DC comics! I've been tipping back heavily towards Marvel stuff for years now but there's always been something keeping me connected, like an umbilical cord, to DC. But Morrison finished Batman, Johns finished Green Lantern, Williams 3 and Blackman got kicked off of Batwoman and though I looked nothing else really appealed. I liked Snyder's Zero Year story on Batman but the constant return to the poisoned well that is the Joker and each writer's belief that they can tell the ultimate Joker story is boring. At the moment DC feels tired and lacking in either ideas or the courage to strike out and try something new even though this is at a time when they've 'killed off' Bruce Wayne. Their idea of trying something new is to repeat something Morrison did five years ago and other writers over a decade before that? Wow, brave. Bring me Superman's severed head and an affidavit from God that we're never getting his soul back in this or any other universe and then we'll talk.

But in case you think I'm only going to moan about things I don't like, let's talk about Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios. This was an absolute bugger to read in individual issues so it was nice to get the trade and read it all in one morning. This was the first thing I'd read by either creator, I think. Since then I've followed Kelly Sue to 'Bitch Planet' which I've also enjoyed, not least for its more linear plot. This book is in the category of 'Weird Western', involving as it does Death, Death's daughter and a cast of… others. It gets problematic in that Deconnick is trying to tell what is a fairly straightforward story in as roundabout a way as she can. Meanwhile, Rios's pencils are great for suggesting action and tight scenes of little or no movement but somewhere in between and it can get a bit muddled. The pages are quite tight, compressed artwork to tell an uncompressed story. There are nice touches, Death has a bunny's skull for a head for no real reason. In the end it's quite a nice spin on fairly standard Western tropes, it's sad that the fact that it has a number of female main characters is something that still feels noteworthy in this day and age. I'm interested to see where this series goes in future but this was a four issue story stretched to five in order to fill out a trade, hopefully there will be more meat in future.

One Soul by Ray Fawkes is a deceptively simple idea, take eighteen characters from eighteen different time periods (from our earliest hunter gatherer forebears through the Middle Ages up to the present day) and take us through their lives from before birth (we don't see anything start to form until page eight) through their adolescence up to their deaths and beyond. So we have two sets of nine panel grids with each character getting a panel we see them progress through life. There's the Roman girl who becomes a priestess of Artemis, the Japanese weaver who just wants to work on her art, the soldier from America's war of independence and the punk with her poetry and spiralling drug addiction and that's just four of them. Even their, in some cases, untimely deaths don't end their contributions, the panels go black but the story continues. the panels complement one another, such as one side of a double page spread with close-ups of the right eyes of the first nine characters on the left and the left eyes of the second nine characters on the right or where one character is struck by an arrow another has a heart attack. It's reminiscent of the chapters of From Hell dealing with Sir William Gull and the Victorian ideas of time travel. Beautifully executed and well worth seeking out.

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Tags: comics, reviews
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