It’s been a year and a half since the last issue of Pretty Deadly. This creator-owned series by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Emma Rios is a blend of western, mythology, fairy tale and song, in a way that’s somehow cohesive. It’s the kind of series you need to read several times to understand properly, but that increases its value in a sense. Almost everything that worked about issues 1-5 works in this issue as well.
Pretty Deadly 6 takes place several decades after the last volume. It’s now WW1. While most of the characters from the previous story are present, this issue takes its time to introduce the new main cast. There’s the little girl, Clara, who’s seeing her grandmother (Sarah from the previous volume) slowly fade away. Meanwhile, her son is fighting along with the French in the trenches.
On the one hand, not much actually happens in this issue. Sarah spends most of her time either lying in bed or speaking with Fox, who’s become one of Death’s servants since the last volume. Her son spends most of his time in France tending to panicking horses. On the other hand, the writing here is fantastic. There’s a lovely poem about death in the middle of this comic, resembling Ginny’s song from Pretty Deadly 1, and it’s clearly building to a much larger story than what we’ve seen so far. It deals with the idea that so many people would love just a little extra time to say goodbye to their loved ones, but the world doesn’t work that way. This comic won’t be for everyone, and those who haven’t read the previous volume won’t have any idea what’s going on, but the writing is utterly brilliant.
Rios’s art is beautiful. The opening montage shows a tree as it grows over time, and the different insects that occupy it over the years. Afterward, it moves to the ranch where Sarah’s dying, with the opening montage showing Clara’s mother preparing water for the house. Fox looks ghostly with his gray appearance and the scars on his face, and when the death poem is recited, there’s a great montage of people who came to mourn Sarah’s eventual death. The backgrounds in France are appropriately haunting, especially when Ginny and Alice show up on the very last page. Jordie Belaire’s colouring adds to the comic’s atmosphere with colours that are subdued yet at the same time, well varied.
Before I move onto the conclusion, I’ll quickly mention a letter after the main comic by Kate Leth. It talks about the Valkyrie movement in comic fandom and it’s well worth the read. She also mentions how she used to work at the Strange Adventures comic store in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve been to that store several times – it’s a great little comic store near the coast with good selection and a friendly staff. If I ever moved to Halifax it would probably be my main comic store.
Pretty Deadly 6 is finally back. The artistic writing style won’t fit everyone’s tastes, but the writing and art are simply brilliant. So long as stuff happens in the next few issues (judging by the last volume, stuff certainly will happen), this volume should be just as good as the last. Its themes are universal since death is something we must all face. In other words, you should at least give this series a chance.