In Issue #3 of Lady Killer 2, Joëlle Jones nails the idea that evil comes with a smile on its face.
Lady Killer is a dark comedy about a female professional killer in the ’60s. Josie has to juggle her secret violent career with her family life. With each issue, as Jones continues to perfect her voice as a writer, the elements that elevate this conflict and that make this book so special find their way to the foreground. Josie has recently relocated to Florida with her family. She’s working solo, picking up whatever gigs she can. She’s even turned down a possibly lucrative partnership. She’s great at the killing, but horrible at the clean-up. Enter Irving, who quickly becomes known as Uncle Irving to satiate her family’s curiosity when he shows up at her house unannounced. That peculiar moment is only the beginning in what seems to be an unhealthy relationship brewing.
Jones veers her story into the uncomfortable delight of Breaking Bad territory. As a freelancer Josie is just now coming into contact first-hand with all the different elements of the job she didn’t have before, and her naiveté is showing. This is smart; it brings real conflict into Josie’s life.
Uncle Irving is a fantastic creation, someone who doesn’t know just how evil he is. You can see it in the way he acts chummy with Josie – like they are the same. Maybe that’s why evil finds it so easy to smile; they don’t see themselves as such. As Uncle Irving’s history is unpacked, monstrous revelations occur, and now Josie is faced with an internal dilemma: Can she judge him because of who she is? Is there a difference? The third issue only hints at some of these elements, but Jones’ artwork is so spot on, you can see the conflict in the characters’ faces.
Let’s talk again about Jones’ incredible skill as an artist. The details. Just look at the backgrounds – the wall paper, the clothing, even a single panel of a Christmas ornament being hurtled through the air. The details are so well researched and bring this world to life in ways that you may not realize at first. Her skill as a visual storyteller are stellar, capturing in a single panel what some artists can’t in several pages worth. She knows when to break away from strict paneling conventions to convey emotions and ideas. She’s the type of artist a writer doesn’t have to worry about overwriting something to convey an idea.
Michelle Madsen’s colors are striking and also well researched. Look at the difference between how a toy store is colored with how immediately before the grey tone film noir elements of a flashback are serviced. She does so each with equal conviction and style, while still making it feel like part of the same story.
This is the time to be reading comics, and these two fantastic creators are a part of that reason.