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Monday, December 29, 2014

Comics Spotlight Review: Lady Killer #1

This year has seen a lot of female character led books that have gotten a lot of acclaim, both in the super-hero realm (Elektra, She-Hulk) and on the more indie side of things (The Kitchen, Low). Joëlle Jones and Jame S. Rich have been a part of this for a while, with both working together on Madame Frankenstein and Jones on Brides of Helheim. On this new miniseries, Lady Killer, hitting stores on the first Wednesday of 2015, Jones and Rich co-write while Jones provides the cover and interior art.

Lady Killer follows Josie Schuller, seemingly your average early 1960's housewife–she does wonders with her cooking and cleaning, takes care of her mother-in-law, and somehow manages to look beautiful in time for her husband's return from work. But in between the usual day's work, Josie does something else: kill people for money.

One thing I really dig about this first issue is the way Jones and Rich go about setting up the story. Rather than use the bait and switch (as I just did in my short description), they go about it from the opposite direction, showing you her clever cunning as she brutally murders a woman and then giving us her cover story and family life. It really lets us jump right in without basing the whole first issue on a twist that we already know is coming.

The first half, which covers the assassination, is comedic in an almost slapstick style as the target accidentally avoids Josie's attacks, but it soon turns brutal and breathless as the two women grapple for their lives. It's legitimately intense, both plotted well and drawn with an excellent sense of movement and impact. The second half at Josie's home as it is interrupted by a surprise call from the man that gives her jobs focuses more on the irony of the situation, but gives us a better sense of what Josie is like, and clues us in that her family is perhaps not just a cover story. Her banter with her handler is great, both tight and witty, and where it leads us for the second issue is fun and intriguing.

The issue is written well, but Jones' art is the real star here. It's not quite like most of her past work, with more grit and splatter, which is appropriate here. It looks and feels like an old school Dark Horse book. Jones puts a lot of extra depth in the art, never skimping on the backgrounds and letting these fighting characters feel as if they are trying to grab onto anything, including the reader, to save themselves. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the coloring, done by the phenomenal Laura Allred. They have a real pop to them that you don't often see with a scratchy style like Jones uses on this book. Together, Jones and Allred give us something that is bloody, funny, and undeniably sexy.

Lady Killer #1 doesn't give us everything in the first issue, but it certainly lays out all the pieces better than most, enough to bring me back for #2. Pair that nice script with the dynamic team of Jones and Allred on art duties, and I'm locked in for however long they take to tell the tale.

Lady Killer #1 is written by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, with covers and interior art by Joëlle Jones and colors by Laura Allred. This comedic action mini-series is being put out by Dark Horse and hits comic stores on January 7th.

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