Monday, January 13, 2020

Review: Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Title: Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike
Series: Pretty Deadly #1-5
Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrator: Emma Ríos
Format: Paperback, 120 pages
Pub. Date: May 13th 2014
Source: Goodreads First Reads

Book Description:

TKelly Sue DeConnick (Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel) and Emma Rios (Dr. Strange, Osborn) present the collected opening arc of their surprise-hit series that marries the magical realism of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher. Death's daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her origin story is a tale of retribution as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage.

"It's a perfect match for the gorgeous, dizzying artwork in a sumptuous palette-overlaid panels add intricate choreography to fight scenes, and detailed, whirling splash pages beg for long-lingering looks. Couple that, along with a handful of Eisner nominations, with a multicultural cast of tough-as-nails women who all fight for their own honor, and this is a series to watch out for." - Booklist

"It's ambitious and challenging (two qualities that are not often valued, but that probably should be), under a façade of violence and sacrifice. Rio's art is lush and detailed, and is more than capable of keeping up with the far-reaching story." - PW



What an odd series of graphic novels to review.

I didn't really care for this series. It felt all over the place and disjointed. It was hard to follow, even if conceptually it's a cool idea. There's a lot of things that are never really explained (like the narrators) that we're just meant to accept without thinking too much about.

The artwork, however, is beautiful. It's haunting and dark and eerie, and does way more than the writing does with progressing the story. Some of the panels are cool enough to be prints in their own right, in my opinion.

I don't know how many of these books there are (note: a quick look on Goodreads tells me that in fact there are ten volumes), but I have absolutely no interest in reading any more of these. While the feminist-gothic-spaghetti western type plot seems like a good idea in theory, it falls short on every level, and doesn't really get to the nitty gritty of any of these categories. It's just sort of.... Artsy and different solely for the purpose of being artsy and different. The characters aren't given much depth, so it's hard to feel attached to them, no matter how cool their artwork is.

I'm not really sure who I recommend these books to. If you like westerns with a slight gothic flourish or dark-inspired graphic novels, this might be for you.


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