Welcome to “All In or Fold”, our weekly segment where we review the start of a manga or comic series of our choice as if we just picked it up off the shelves. Our goal is to offer potential readers a brief understanding of the content presented, and help them decide if it is a good idea to pick up the series for themselves moving forward. So let us jump in and decide, should we go All In on this one?
It is probably commonly excepted that you can gain some idea of what a comic book is about, or at least what genre it fits within, by looking at its cover. Unfortunately, by taking a look at the cover art on display for the first volume of Pretty Deadly, you can gather that… There’s maybe cowgirls? Is it Western themed then? But if so, how do the skull and the eerie gothic woman fit into the picture? What is the title “Pretty Deadly” referring to? An initial impression of this book is definitely a whole lot of questions without answers, but we can probably all agree on at least one thing; the artistic direction is drop dead gorgeous.
The brain child of Kelly Sue Deconnick (well known for her fantastic run as writer for Captain Marvel which is said to be the primary inspiration for the upcoming 2019 film) and artist Emma Rios, Pretty Deadly is an enigma. Nothing about it is straightforward, whether it be how the story unfolds or how it is presented to the reader through a maelstrom of color. Starting at the very beginning, Pretty Deadly immediately makes use of a story device once much more common than it is today, that of a narrator. Naturally, the narrator is a skeletal undead rabbit telling a story to a butterfly. Yes, the narrator is a bunny corpse, and the butterfly talks too. There may be no explanation for this whatsoever, but that’s a common theme with Pretty Deadly.
The story begins to truly unwind when we are presented with the first two important characters, Sissy (a young girl with mismatching eyes and a cloak made of a vulture’s head and feathers) and Fox (an elderly man with a bandage over his eyes). Riding into an unnamed town somewhere in the American West, the two call the inhabitants together and put on a show like minstrels, spinning a tale for everyone to hear. Told through rhyme akin to a children’s bedtime story, they weave the depressing tragedy of a man who locked his wife in a tower afraid of other stealing her away. Stuck in the tower and wishing to die, his wife meats Death (as in the actual physical manifestation of Death himself) and they bare a child before the woman presumably passes away. The child, named Ginny, becomes a ghostly horsewoman of vengeance that travels the land punishing those who wrong others if you sing her song. After moving some of the crowd to tears with their melody, Sissy and Fox gather gratuities from the crowd before galloping off into the sunset.