I’ve taken to listening to music while reading comics, and I found the perfect (for the moment) song to listen to while reading Joelle Jones’ Lady Killer: “Zorba’s Dance” from the film score for Zorba the Greek. It has a nice, slow build with escalating anticipation, a playful rhythm, and a promise of something that’s about to happen while the enjoyment of what’s happening unspools before you. Like with the classic score by Mikis Theodorakis, you can tell Jones is having a hell of a good time on this book and that she really cares about it. How can I tell? Look at the detail.
Jones is taking on double duty as writer and artist here, and the detail she goes into with every image is staggering. The cover alone is breathtaking. Michelle Madsen on colors is killing it; I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shades of green at play – even the clothing (Mr. Schuler’s jacket, a rack of clothes in a dancer’s dressing room). The time she has put into every panel. This is her baby.
As a writer, Jones’ gift continues to sharpen. If you haven’t been following along, Josie is a hitman who leads a double life. On one side, she kills for a living, and on the other she pretends to be the perfect ’60s housewife. Looking to up her business, she’s enlisted Irving, an older gentleman (ex-Nazi) to help with clean up. Putting the complicated anti-hero Josie in league with a monster like Irving is building to that crescendo I was talking about, and seeing elements from previous issues weaving into this issue builds to an empowering and haunting final few images on the last page. Jones creates imagery that would make some of the best cinematographers in the film business envious. And with so many male-driven stories out there, seeing this perspective play out is refreshing.
Jones has created a smart, driven, clever, ahead-of-her-time female anti-hero and put her in a time in which that wasn’t always acceptable. Sadly, it isn’t always acceptable today by many which makes the character and book just as refreshing. Josie doesn’t apologize. She doesn’t wonder what men will think of her. She cares for and loves her family, but she doesn’t let that define who she is as a person. She makes her own way.