I can’t explain what Pretty Deadly is about. Normally, I like to give an elevator pitch, but how do you sum up a story that’s really still in the prologue? I can’t even say with certainty that all of the characters have been assembled yet. What I can say is Pretty Deadly is a supernatural tale set in a western setting, and it’s going to make you think.
The larger story is framed by the narration of Bunny and Butterfly, but Pretty Deadly #1 has layers. In this issue, Bunny focuses in on the story of Sissy, the girl in the vulture cloak, and Foxy, a blind man. Together, they entertain towns with stories. There are stories within stories that are themselves part of a larger tale. While trying to discuss it, the entire thing sounds confusing even to me, but the writing of DeConnnick and the art of Rios together are able to do the entire idea justice. Together, they can depict a scene where Bunny is telling us about Sissy and Foxy while they tell us about Deathface Ginny while Bunny is also talking about Deathface Ginny, all of which is depicted as layers and distinguished through the use of colored filters to show all aspects of the story: Deathface Ginny’s part, along with Sissy, Foxy, their props, and their audience. Combined with the dual narration, it’s not exactly a simple storytelling device, but, altogether, it’s an impressive feat.
Rios’ art is hit or miss for me. Her ability to fill a scene and create dynamic-looking characters won me over, but the art in Pretty Deadly, like the book itself, is too subtle much of the time with some odd moments and characterizations. Where Rios’ art succeeds are for those grand scenes where there is complexity involved. It’s because of those moments, and the superb coloring of Jordie Bellaire, that I can say that Pretty Deadly is a gorgeous book. Bellaire makes use of bright colors, such as pastel yellows and pinks that cement the setting like no other, which make the layered art and narrations all work together and the characters stand out as larger than life.
At the moment, Pretty Deadly is holding its cards close to its chest. The characters visually draw the eye and made me want to know more, but for every fact revealed about Sissy, Foxy, and the other characters, like the mysterious Big Alice (Go, tall girls!), there are 50 that go unanswered. This goes double for Deathface Ginny, the woman seen on the cover. This is a comic that is building up its mysteries. It’s not going to give everything up front. Nor should it. When examining this first issue, I have to say I found myself more confused, contemplative, and curious than entertained, which is something readers should take into account as this might be one tale best experienced once there are several issue available. One thing’s for sure: I’m intrigued. Ladies, tell me a story.