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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Gothic, Mythological Western
Yes! This is pretty funky awesome! A horror/mythology western. Very dark and Gothic with its theme of death. Absolutely brilliant art, especially the colours which amazed me, these palettes are unusual and perfectly moody and atmospheric. It starts out with orange/peach/browns, then blue/pinks/black then pinks/reds/black, etc. The story is set in some sort of American...
Published 2 months ago by Nicola Mansfield

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty indecipherable
Pretty Deadly Volume 1 should come with a beret, it’s so art school-y. Writing-wise that is as, while Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing and storytelling is dull and pretentious, Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire bring their A-game to the art.

Pretty Deadly’s a western set sometime in 19th century America during the frontier days but the story is heavy...
Published 4 months ago by Sam Quixote


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty indecipherable, 17 May 2014
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Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)
Pretty Deadly Volume 1 should come with a beret, it’s so art school-y. Writing-wise that is as, while Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing and storytelling is dull and pretentious, Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire bring their A-game to the art.

Pretty Deadly’s a western set sometime in 19th century America during the frontier days but the story is heavy on the magical realism/mythologising brand of storytelling that makes it feel like a fable of sorts. And that’s what the first volume is, very broadly: the origin of how Sissy, a little girl wearing a vulture’s skin, became Death. I say very broadly because DeConnick throws in a ton of other stuff to confuse the reader which turns the story into an absolute mess by the final chapter.

I’m going to talk spoilers for the rest of the review so if you want to avoid all of that and just get my quick takeaway now, here it is: DeConnick is a crap writer and storyteller and Pretty Deadly is a woeful reading experience most of the time. But Emma Rios’ art has never looked more incredible and, coupled with Jordie Bellaire’s amazing colours, this is easily one of the best looking comics I’ve read all year, if not the best. So it’s worth picking up and taking a leisurely look through it, enjoying the gorgeous panels and breathtaking covers. But if you’re looking for a great western comic, that also incorporates magic and the supernatural, check out Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s The Sixth Gun series, where the writing matches the quality of the art.

‘kay? Spoilers a-hoy-hoy!

Right from the start the book has the quality of a creation myth as a butterfly and a skeleton bunny tell each other the story of Deathface Ginny, Death’s daughter. If Pretty Deadly fully committed to the idea of a myth-like story, I’d be more lenient on it, but it doesn’t so I won’t. If it were just a myth, I’d not mention the non-existent character development and often bizarre plot developments as these are qualities in myth stories.

The point of myth/creation stories is not to tell a convincing story in the conventional sense but to impart a message or moral. Myths are also usually straightforward in that sense as they’re a disguised message, but an understandable one - Pretty Deadly is convoluted to the point of indecipherability.

Sometimes Pretty Deadly is a myth, but quite often it wants to be both an action movie and a hip anime, and it wants emotional resonance with its characters. So it effectively takes itself out of the myth genre and tries to go for a plethora of things, all of which means character and plot critiques are fair game.

But it’s more than just the vague vision it’s sort of aiming for that bothered me, it’s the way it staggers around to get from point A to point B. I think this is the story of Sissy becoming Death because that’s where the story ends up but if you asked me before it got to the end what it’s about, I’d have to say: I have no idea. Big Alice is hunting Deathface Ginny, while Sissy’s guardian, the old blind Fox (this is another quality of myths - animals/animal names feature prominently), who’s an old dude and not a real fox, is trying to save Sissy from something and also trying to find redemption, and Death is involved somehow. And what’s with the framing device of the skeleton bunny and butterfly?!

The more deeply you look into Pretty Deadly the more superficial it seems as DeConnick fails to join the dots in her story to make it’s story meaningful to the reader. And all it does is raise numerous questions that for the life of me I can’t answer.

What was Johnny Coyote’s story - something about giving Sissy a note that somehow brought Big Alice to her attention? What was he supposed to get out of that and how does he know her? And then why did he get involved later if he fulfilled his purpose?

What was Big Alice’s story - bring in Deathface Ginny? Why? And, after a pretty epic fight with her, why did she return, reincarnated, for a second round without any game plan only to die again, for no reason?

What was Ginny’s story - run away from domineering dad, Death? Running away from her destiny as the next Death? Did she have a story?

What was Death’s story - kill everyone? Seems straightforward, he IS Death, but why does Death have such a problem meting out death?

Why was Fox hiding Sissy - did he not want her to become Death? Was that his wish or hers? Because Sissy does become Death, so is that a happy ending? And, while it was important for her to live life to become the avatar of death, to appreciate the burden, does it really qualify as living if you’ve only “lived” for a few years - wouldn’t it be more meaningful if you lived a full life, ie. ‘til old age, BEFORE becoming Death? And why were they tooling about the old west putting on shows anyway?! What was Fox getting out of telling his life story to an audience?

I paid attention to the story, I even made notes, and I went back and re-read entire chapters, and I still had no idea what the point of anything was in this book. If these “characters” had stories, DeConnick doesn’t pursue them much, choosing instead Sissy’s fight and flight story over all else, which didn’t really make much sense in the first place. The final chapter really underlines this as characters, shoot one another, die left and right and I still had no idea who I was supposed to root for and why. I think Sissy, because she’s an innocent, right? Whatever.

DeConnick’s a bad writer because she’s unable to create 1) characters whose motivations are understandable, 2) characters who feel remotely real, and 3) a coherent plot. She’s able to conjure up scenes that are interesting in themselves, like having a biblical flood happen in one issue, or a trip to hell in another, and gun and sword fights in canyons between two supernatural beings, but when you slot them against one another and try to make them flow as a single story, it fails completely.

Like I said, Emma Rios’ art is outstanding. The frontier vistas are stunning, her action scenes fluid and well-paced, and her character designs really eye-catching - I guarantee Deathface Ginny’ll be a con staple for years to come! Jordie Bellaire’s colours perfectly complement Rios’ art, using bright colours to give the drab ol’ west a feeling of otherworldly vibrancy that suits the supernatural tone of the story.

I’m not going to keep reading Pretty Deadly as this is my third DeConnick book now (I’ve also read her Captain Marvel at Marvel and Ghost over at Dark Horse) and I can tell this writer isn’t for me, but if I see it on the shelf of my local library, I’ll pick it up and enjoy the art.

And that’s Pretty Deadly - pretty terribly written!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Gothic, Mythological Western, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)
Yes! This is pretty funky awesome! A horror/mythology western. Very dark and Gothic with its theme of death. Absolutely brilliant art, especially the colours which amazed me, these palettes are unusual and perfectly moody and atmospheric. It starts out with orange/peach/browns, then blue/pinks/black then pinks/reds/black, etc. The story is set in some sort of American West world/dimension and centres around an original death story which takes elements from the Hades/Demeter/Persephone myth. It's by no means a retelling but just enough to use as a backbone. The characters are fantastic, and since this is about death and takes place for a good part in Hades, it is safe to say not everyone is alive by the end of the volume. There are "good" and "bad" guys, while some hover across that line but none is beyond redemption and I loved them all. This volume finishes with a finite ending and thus, when the end note prepares us for volume 2 we are left feeling as if we have just read the prequel to events yet to come. I'm left extremely eager to carry on with this series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely-made comic, 28 Jun 2014
This review is from: Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)
This fantasy comic book is entertaining and well-constructed. It is the first in a series and engaging enough to want to know what ensues. It reminds me of the Sandman series and its spin-offs.

The plot centres around a group of characters including Death itself and the way that they interact. Secrets are revealed and relationships formed.

The artwork is very good and I enjoyed the story and format. I’d recommend this to any comic lover who enjoys Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and the fantasy format.

Enjoyable enough and I look forward to the next instalment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to a new series, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)
Kelly Sue DeConnick writes an awesome script reminiscent of the wonderful storytelling The Sandman (Neil Gaiman) offered, and Emma Rios’ art is spectacular, combining the fantasy elements of the story with the Wild West in such a way as to make it come to life.

Such intriguing characters, and an introduction to what appears to be the main character of the series: Deathface Ginny. The story in vol. 1 is peppered with the mythos behind this world and I loved the slant it took on our mythology.

Eagerly awaiting the next volume.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous., 3 July 2014
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This review is from: Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)
An absolutely fantastic read. Kelly Sue DeConnick creates a wonderful world that you just want to get lost in deeper and deeper. The artwork from Emma Rios and Jordie Ballair is also a perfect counter-balance for the narrative. When I first read a description of 'A cross between Sandman and Preacher' I was skeptical but intrigued, but on review I have to say that the description doesn't hit too wide of the mark.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Art I've Seen in a Long Time, 18 May 2014
This review is from: Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP (Paperback)
This book is very different to most of the others that I've read. I think the best way to describe it would be a western fairy tale. I don't want to say anything about the plot as I fear it would give away too much. The way the story is told can be confusing at times, mostly with the first two issues, but definitely becomes clearer as it goes on. By the end, the story is completely clear, although there are some threads still hanging which I'm sure will be explored in the next volume. Although, that said I think I enjoyed it most on the second read through. I liked all the characters but I definitely liked Sissy and Big Alice the most, I was captivated whenever they were on the page. I've read some of Kelly Sue's other work, most of which is very good. But for me, this is the best thing she has done.

The art in this book is insanely gorgeous! It's definitely some of the best art I have seen in a long time (and I read a lot of comics). The layouts are very interesting but still easy to navigate, which is something that is usually lost when trying to make something different like this. The fight scenes are especially amazing, they are the best fight scenes I have ever read in a comic, hands down. The attention to detail is also great, all of the butterflies must have taken a long time to draw. I haven't read any of Emma Rios' other comics, but I am definitely going to check them out after this. And although it's a part of the art in comics that is often overlooked, I have to say, the coloring in this book is just as good as the rest of it. It stands out much more so than it does in most other books I've read. So well done to Jordie Bellaire as well.

So overall, this is a great book and I would definitely recommend reading it. Especially if you're looking for something different to read, or just want to see beautiful art.
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Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP
Pretty Deadly Volume 1 TP by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Paperback - 13 May 2014)
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