Considering how complex the first volume of Pretty Deadly is, it’s interesting to see how much more straight forward the second arc is. That’s not to say there isn’t anything behind the surface that you don’t notice the first time you read through. In any case, Pretty Deadly continues to be a work of genius.
Pretty Deadly 8, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, is a brutal comic. The bulk of the issue takes place on the frontlines of the First World War, with an all-out assault from the Germans as reaper sisters Ginny and Alice try to protect one particular soldier as a favour to his mother. In addition to the big scale assault, which we get to watch Ginny awesomely take out a bunch of Germans, she also fights another reaper, who is powered by fear. The action alone makes this issue fun, but there’s a lot of subtext going on.
If this issue has a particular theme, it’s about the question of luck. Does it really exist, or is our brutal existence just the way of things? The issue doesn’t answer the question; it just puts it out there and lets us decide. Alice also speaks a few lines of wisdom, like how a lot of people don’t earn good fortune until they’ve already received it. It’s all wrapped up into a poetic narrative disguised as a war comic; a war comic that just happens to have mythology and a touch of a western fairy tale. It’s a combination that sounds like it shouldn’t work, yet it works very well.
The art and colouring by Emma Rios is fantastic. Most pages have more of a montage feel than the traditional panels, and it works in the comic’s favour. Ginny looks absolutely terrifying in a close up where she casually breaths the toxic gas with no ill effects. The red mist flowing with the enemy reaper gives the comic a great creepy vibe. The action is quite gory at times, with severed heads flying around and blood splattering all over the place. Probably the best part of the art is when the story about the farmer is somehow meshed into the main story, and how it meshes perfectly with the dust floating around.
This series won’t be for everyone. Even though this issue is easier to understand with one reading than most issues of Pretty Deadly, it’s still easy to miss some of the deeper meaning. It’s definitely not a conventional comic. At the very least though, it’s worth checking out. The blend of a war story, a fairy tale, mythology, poetry and a western somehow works very well, and the writing is some of DeConnick’s best.