Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Pretty Violent’ #1, out August 21 from Image Comics.

'Pretty Violent' #1: The DoomRocket Review
Cover to ‘Pretty Violent’ #1. Art: Derek Hunter, Spencer Holt/Image Comics

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘PRETTY VIOLENT’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

by Clyde Hall.  Peter Parker started out as a hapless, hard-luck hero. Before marriage to MJ, before affiliations with Stark Industries, this was a kid who couldn’t catch a break. The galactic conspiracy of unfairness against a guy with spider powers just trying to help people and save lives reflected the feelings of Spider-Man’s young readers. They, too, were kids trying to find their place, be decent human beings, all the while plagued by an uncaring adult world which didn’t understand them. 

A similar calamitous hero’s journey is the nucleus for Pretty Violent #1 from Image Comics. Puny Parker’s tribulations pale compared to Gamma Rae’s obstacles launching a superhero career, though. First, she has raw super strength to spare. Just no governor on how much of it she applies to any given situation. Her PR woes arise spontaneously and exponentially without even a JJJ mouthpiece to turn the masses against her. Her family consists of psychopathic supervillains. Worse, based on the premiere issue, some Omnipotent Higher Up, some Force of Fate, has it in for her. 

In #1, Gamma Rae establishes herself as the cape-bearing idol of millions by accidentally releasing a bloodthirsty meta-monster, killing the same meta-monster, blowing up a highly unstable pyrotechnic kaiju, causing rampant civilian casualties, contributing to the deaths of several established superheroes, and earning the apathetic disdain of her felonious brood. 

Rae could take the easy path and join her clan of deviant lawbreakers as a formidable young supervillain. She might still qualify as one, by the end of the issue, owing to death and collateral damage tolls in excess of what many supervillains manage on their best days. But she has a dream, one she won’t abandon despite the forces of Heaven and Earth conspiring against her, despite a hair-trigger temper leveled against anyone obstructing her quest, be they monster or hero. 

Rae’s like a prisoner serving one month’s incarceration for a very minor offense. Rather than submit to the judgement and stick it out, rather than slip away or dig a tunnel escape, she’d builds a catapult to propel her over the prison gates in style. Somehow, the device would become a trebuchet instead, resulting in death, destruction, and a very gory landing. 

Writers Jason Young and Derek Hunter apply the anti-Rae sentiments and reactions with scoop shovels. Sometimes results are the desired humor, other times they sail far afield. A few times, they really test the disbelief suspension bridge. 

Yes, odds are against her. Yes, the ‘admiring public” is a fickle lot. But only the mesmerizing influence of a Xavier-level telepath sabotaging her heroic debut would explain the extreme reactions of the citizen herds. And only a Wanda-level hex power could explain the physics improbabilities that turn even Rae’s most altruistic attempts into such disastrous failures. 

As humor, it’s way over the top. Pretty Violent echoes many of the comedic qualities of I Hate Fairyland, but with overall less cleverness. The artwork by Derek Hunter is more consistent, a horrifically funny amalgam of modern kid’s animation rife with skeletal remains, buckets of intestines, and beheadings. His extremes of facial expression over the course of the book bring snickers. 

Colorist Spencer Holt adds significantly to the irony of the art style. His bright and happy color schemes would be at home in any Disney vehicle. But such vehicles wouldn’t include technicolor depictions of entrails, third-degree burns, and visceral smoothies.

By the finale, you admire the would-be superhero Gamma Rae for her commitment. You’ll also hope that maybe she’ll get committed, or at least find her way to a helpful anger management therapist. She forges ahead with her demolitions crew power set, trying to do the right thing against better judgement and voices of reason. If you like ultra-violent panels of pandemonium, lots of swears (proclaimed right on the cover), and comedies of errors you’ll appreciate Rae even more.

Image Comics / $3.99

Written by Jason Young and Derek Hunter. 

Art by Derek Hunter.

Colors by Spencer Holt.

 7 out of 10

‘Pretty Violent’ #1 hits stores August 21.

Check out this 6-page preview of ‘Pretty Violent’ #1 (including a killer variant by Ryan Ottley), courtesy of Image Comics!

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