Pretty Deadly #4

Story by
Art by
Emma Rios
Colors by
Jordie Bellaire
Letters by
Clayton Cowles
Cover by
Image Comics

The point of the "Pretty Deadly" story has finally arrived where the plot is revealed and readers can finally make an informed decision about its direction. With most of the cards on the table, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios dispense with the drip-feed mystery, letting the action run wild and the plot roil towards what will surely be an epic showdown at Death's lovely one bedroom hellhole.

Up until the third issue, I had no idea what was happening in this book but still really liked what I was reading -- a testament to DeConnick's genre-mashing scripts. The lyrical, spaghetti Western feel of the dialogue is still present and now that it's no longer being used to keep secrets from characters -- something even Sissy complains about -- it enhances the action. That readers know who all the characters are to one another it's easier to care about what happens to them. The showdown between Fox and Ginny feels exciting with the grizzled and clipped phrasing they use and makes sense given the high-stakes fight in which they're engaged. The action is all very manga with speed lines and graceful arced posturing. 

I really like Emma Rios' body of work but I still have trouble with her shot choices in this book. The art is grittier in this series, a choice I understand given its mashup of genres, but that grit combined with some really tight action shots makes the story hard to follow in places. It's looks great but I find myself staring at the art not in appreciation but more like a grandfather trying to understand how Tinder works. I can't tell if the frame is zoomed in tight on the skull of Death or if I'm looking at his collarbone, or what. Wait, whose arm is that in this action shot? Did I get the zoom function locked on my iPad? I'm in too deep and suddenly I'm Donnie Brasco. The heavy ink style makes me feel cramped and and confused in these cases because my intuition makes me think that if a thinner line were used, I'd be able to more clearly discern the up-close nature of what I'm seeing. Am I missing something here? Someone explain it to me because I feel like there is just some cognitive disconnect happening. Beyond the confusion, Jordie Bellaire's colors enhance the emotion of every scene as always. Her palate is like a mood ring for any book.

We seem to be approaching the end of the first arc of this book and now that the path is clearer, I feel like I'm on better footing as a passive consumer. There were times during issues 1-3 that I was concerned the plot would become a leaning tower of mysteries that would collapse under its own weight and I'm happy to report that isn't the case. DeConnick, Rios and company still have to stick the landing as our protagonists face down death itself, but with each issue of this book I am cheering them on more and more to get the job done.

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