By Brad Sun. Once you get past all the blood spatter and bludgeoning, is a contract killer really all that different from a 1960s housewife? Both occupations involve multitasking, problem solving, and above all else, the ability to make it look effortless. This is the premise of Lady Killer 2, a follow-up to the original miniseries created by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich. Jones tackles story and art duties solo this time, and the result is a debut issue that focuses on stunning visual panache and tight stylish choreography.
There’s not much plot in issue one, which is more about establishing a new status quo for deadly domestic goddess Josie Schuller, but to call this “style over substance” would be missing the point. After all, in Josie’s busy suburban life of tupperware parties, family cookouts, and beating people to death with a hammer, nothing is more important than keeping up appearances.
“I’m going to write a scene just so I can draw that stuff” is how Jones once described her process. Not unlike Frank Miller’s Sin City, sunny Cocoa Beach, FL is molded into a playground for her artistic indulgence. From kitschy cool wallpaper to on-point vintage fashion, there’s not a detail that Jones doesn’t make the most of. In one particularly decadent multi-page sequence, she lovingly draws a ’57 Chevy Bel Air from just about every angle imaginable. It’s glorious.
And let’s not forget the violence! Josie’s cold-blooded kills are depicted with a low-key dark humor, reminiscent of Garth Ennis’ Preacher. Striking Dutch angles and elegant composition filter even the most horrific visuals through the same stylish aesthetic as the rest of the book. Her victims are portrayed as cartoonish buffoons, more than one of them resembling Chris Farley in an SNL skit. In fact, the entire cast is objectified in the best possible way. Josie and her affably clueless husband are all sharp angles and perfect hair, a dreamy vision of domestic bliss. Only the stray splatter of ink suggests the dark truth lurking beneath the facade.
If there’s a downside to all this visual splendor, it’s that the writing can’t quite compete. It’s perfectly serviceable, but also mostly unnecessary. I can’t help but wonder if the book would be even more effective with half the amount of text, or even none at all. But that hardly puts a damper on all the fun Jones is clearly having, and it’s infectious.
Dark Horse Comics/$3.50
Written by Joëlle Jones.
Art by Joëlle Jones.
Colors by Michelle Madsen.
Letters by Crank!
8 out of 10