Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios’ new creator owned series from Image is a surreal western of the best kind. A rollicking adventure steeped in history. Often pitched as “Preacher” meets “Sandman,” “Pretty Deadly” is so much more.
Emma Rios’ incredible sweeping art compliments Deconnick’s wonderful story. Inside this book you’ll find a lyrical adventure that follows a mysterious protagonist. All of the best western elements are here, and they’re given a perfect dream like twist.
Comparing “Pretty Deadly” to other series would frankly do this book an injustice. It is so unlike anything I’ve had the pleasure of reading that I found myself diving into the book a second time immediately after my first read-through. The whimsical tone that begins the book shifts suddenly into a macabre lyrical poem.
A poem that is completely captivating and educational. This book is steeped in history. The past of the protagonist is elaborated through this lyrical style. It’s a refreshing way to experience exposition. Deconnick has us following Death’s daughter.
We learn how she was conceived, and watch as she makes her way across the barren countryside of the west. Deconnick understands western tropes and isn’t afraid to put her own spin on them. The raven imagery is so perfectly articulated by Emma Rios’ art that it comes to define the book.
The stray feathers wandering through the air, the abrasive headdress, and the billowing black cloak say everything about “Pretty Deadly.” Rios finds time within her art to cut her own lease on western imagery. Everything here looks well trodden and decayed. The paneling during the lyrical poem is simply stunning. So many images are overlayed on top of one another, but it never feels overwhelming.
Instead Rios’ command of the page causes the narrative to flow like Sissy’s billowing cloak. The supporting characters feel weathered in comparison to Ginny’s innocence. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition within this world. Her bright eyes will soon fade, but until then Rios has made a point to make her stand out.
Deconnick’s story is one of personal reflection and mystery. The motivations of every character are not entirely clear. Instead, we are engaged in a mysterious adventure surrounded by even more mysterious people. Things get dark and blood is spilt, but for the most part things are rather tame.
The entire adventure feels like an acid western in a similar vein to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work but with a little more focus. The script isn’t comfortable with providing all of the answers up front, nor should it be. Since the narrative weaves unpredictably throughout the west this is a book that is better approached with a more liberal sense of mind.
“Pretty Deadly” is pretty damn unique. It is bold, dark, and engaging storytelling with a surrealistic flavor. The engaging characters and rich sense of history give the feeling of the gigantic sprawling narrative ahead. It’s been entirely too long since we have had a book like this. While it certainly is in a league of it’s own, if you are a fan of good, dark, dream like storytelling than this is for you.
Rating: 4/5 Skulls.