Awww yeah, Lady Death is back!
Let me start out by saying that if you enjoyed Lady Death in the original, old school Chaos Comics, then this book is for you! After some struggles and issues with Boundless comics, Lady Death is back in the hands of the man who created her, and is back to making the forces of Hell tremble in their collective boots! This story hits the ground running, and manages to keep a good pace throughout.
In Chaos Rules, we are introduced to a Lady Death who has been put into a magical slumber for two decades, and is awakened in Hell by a host of angels. Readers of the old school Chaos books will recognize Brock, who is left to greet her after the angelic host departs as she awakens. He gives her a little intel on what has happened, and equips her with a brand new sword before she heads out into Hell to solve the mystery of who put her into a magical slumber and altered her memories. Without overloading us with a ton of exposition, Pulido provides us with some background information throughout the story, and old school Chaos readers will quickly realize that there are going be some definitive changes with some of the story line between the original material and this new version (a lot of the differences are explained by her memory being altered). There is just enough background information that new readers should not be left completely in the dark, and should be able keep up with the story being told.
The dialogue worked well for the story at hand. I can't say that there was ever a point that anyone sounded out of character. Demon lords sounded like demon lords, bootlicking lesser demons sounded appropriate, and Lady Death sounded like the large and in charge demonic arse kicker the fans have all come to know and love. There was even laughter in the middle of combat from Lady Death, which really brought me back to the old days. This is a character that loves combat and dismembering her foes, and Pulido definitely does not hold back on that aspect of her character in this story.
The artwork and coloring brought back a pretty strong feeling of nostalgia for the original Chaos works, but definitely did not feel dated. The work of Verma and Rich on this book really captured the bleakness and brutality of hell. The majority of the scenes were clear and crisp in their intent, and I never really found myself having to decipher what was going on due to poor artwork. The action sequences were exceedingly well done, and in true Pulido style, there were plenty of decapitations, severing of body parts, and buckets upon buckets of blood.
There were a few panels where the artwork and scene setup felt a little odd and disjointed. The sequence where the jester hits Lady Death with a mallet looked a little odd, though it was pretty clear what was going on. Then there was also a sequence where you see Lady Death waking up with her mouth open, making a confused face, and then in the very next panel, her mouth is suddenly gagged with some cloth. This could have been the result of some magic Lady Death worked in the scene, but it wasn't very clear if that was the case, since the jester probably would have known whether or not he gagged her and made no mention of it. As well, the lettering throughout the book could have used a bit more work in my opinion.
Overall, the minor gripes I had with the book did not diminish it's feel nor tone. Fans should be very pleased with Pulido's work here.
And while what I have to say next isn't really a gripe or complaint, I'll drop it here since it is as good a spot as any I guess...Pulido has pulled Lady Death away from the more cosmic scale of storytelling as seen in the original Chaos books. Power levels have been scaled back a bit, so don't expect to see her reacting to and smashing meteors, then tanking re-entry like a champ and walking it off. In tone, feel, and attitude, this is a character and story you will recognize, but as with the Crossgen stories all the way through the various companies to the Boundless stories, her power levels have been lowered somewhat from the original Chaos comics run.
I loved it. 5 out 5 stars.
There seems to be this ever pervasive air of political correctness running through a lot of the mainstream books right now. Classic characters are constantly seeing changes all of the time, and a lot of books on the market just seem apologetic for what they once were. Not Lady Death. She is still running strong as one of the original bad girls of horror themed comics. This book has plenty of cleavage, blood and gore, a bit of sex, and is in your face with all of it, without ever flinching or backing down. This book is not for prudes and the PC crowd.
It is well worth the price of admission my friends=)
The Bonus Stuff
As a bonus, I was also able to score a few words from the man himself, Lady Death's creator and writer of Chaos Rules, Brian Pulido!!! He is most definitely a very busy man, but he took some time out of his day to answer my email and give me some quick answers to a few questions.
WS: Lady Death brings up the fact Seance perverted her memories, mentioning that he made her think her mother was her enemy. Is this in reference to and a means to explain the Avatar/Boundless line of stories?
Brian Pulido: Correct. All Avatar / Boundless was a dream / nightmare.
WS: The scene where Lady Death decapitates several foes at once, we see some very clearly defined and shocked faces...are these parodies of some real life personages? Not asking for names, just curious overall=)
Brian Pulido: Correct. Part of "Killed By Death" edition. People pledged to be decapitated.
WS: Music wise, who was playing in the background when you did your work on Chaos Rules?
Brian Pulido: Arch Enemy.
WS: Can we expect to see any of the characters from the Avatar/Boundless run rear their heads in the future or are they completely out of the picture?
Brian Pulido: Stay tuned...
WS: And now, for the exceedingly geeky question: Lady Death's strength, durability, and overall power level seems pretty clear, but I am having a difficult time really pinning down her overall combat speed (not really travel speed) in this current incarnation, which is hard, since in the mortal world, she really has little to fear from bullets and such. While I know the intent wasn't Flash level speeds in her previous incarnations (though she did have some pretty good speed feats in those older incarnations), could this current version out react or dodge a bullet if she absolutely had to?
Brian Pulido: 5X human strength / speed. Not nearly flash level. Can't dodge bullets.
A big thanks goes out to Mr Pulido for taking the time to answer my questions. For more on Lady Death and Brian Pulido's works, check out the Coffin Comics website!