A striking first issue is followed up this month with a lot of "more" -- more context, more action, more Deathface Ginny. Swords come out, everything's on fire, and it's pretty easy to note that PRETTY DEADLY is pretty spectacular.
Kelly Sue DeConnick discards last issue's song and stage show in favor of more straightforward storytelling, and it's a great jump-start to the pace of the book. Bones Bunny is still along to lend a preternaturally wise frame to the tale, but things really start cooking in terms of action -- Ginny is a myth no longer, and she gets straight to business. There's still more to learn about what exactly that binder locks in, and what will become of Sissy and Fox, and that's precisely why issue #3 can't arrive soon enough.
Emma Rios is a master with an ink brush. Atop a canvas of lush details -- flames and feathers and hair, oh my! -- Rios lays down some serious visual storytelling. Big Alice's face, streaked with blood in a macabre mirror of Ginny's Deathface is just poetic. And with Jordie Bellaire's colors, Rios' pages catch fire. Everything feels dusty and lively at the same time -- as it should in the Old West -- and every page has a near-palpable texture.
As with the first issue, the backmatter lends touching context to the book; DeConnick once again shares a personal anecdote that reminds us that PRETTY DEADLY is brought to us by real people with real stories that unfold in parallel with the wild tale of Bones Bunny, Ginny, and the rest. It's philosophical, it's honest, and it's thought-provoking. As if that weren't enough, the team also back-loads the book with a lovely short story (part 2 of the story from the first issue), a pinup, and selected tweets, songs, and other treats from the fan community.
I've had a few conversations with readers who found the language in PRETTY DEADLY to be a bit inaccessible; I've had to explain that a binder is less "Trapper Keeper" and more "contract" in the context of the story more than a few times. It's a trade-off -- there's a certain authenticity in DeConnick's words that I (and many others) find enjoyable, but the price of authenticity can sometimes be confusion.
PRETTY DEADLY is a shining example of everything that Image Comics is doing right lately. The concept is unique, the creative team is driven and talented (and unburdened by existing lore, crossovers, or the like), and just two issues in, Ginny & Co. have a captivated, passionate fanbase. Even if Westerns aren't typically your flavor of choice, this one's worth a look.
As a caveat -- PRETTY DEADLY may have a young girl in its principal cast and an overarching story that DeConnick can talk about with her children, but there are definitely some scenes that are more suited to mature readers.