Dark Horse has come out of the gate swinging, starting off 2015 with the knockout punch that is Lady Killer.
Sharing writing duties, Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich have brought together the perfect amalgamation of beauty and violence. Jones, best known for her work on Oni Press’ Helheim, pulls double duty here, also providing the art. Much like her character, Jones easily handles two jobs. Rich, also of Oni Press notoriety, is a frequent collaborator of Jones’.
The story follows Josie Schuller, homemaker-slash-hitman, or hit-woman in this case. At first glance Josie’s life may seem like any other stay-at-home Mom’s in 1960’s America. Perfect home, beautiful children and dinner on the table when Dad comes home. Setting the story in an era that defines Americana only accentuates the image Jones and Rich are trying to create, and then break, in Lady Killer.
Like all good female assassins, Josie is smart, cunning and breathtakingly beautiful. She is every man’s dream, and luckily for us, a nightmare to her victims. The first hit we are privileged to witness is that of one Mrs. Romanov (subtle jab at one of comic’s deadliest femme fatales Black Widow maybe?). Josie handles the hit like a pro. Failing at first to poison her victim, she swiftly switches gears, throws Romanov off guard and then lets the reader witness a bloody stab to the chest. As a fan of gratuitous violence a good knife kill is always satisfying and Rich and Jones do a wonderful job in this scene. The panels are paced perfectly and the final images set the tone for not only the issue but the entire series. Laura Allred on colors deftly maneuvers the reader from panel to panel by changing the lighting and giving the nuance of fading, both that of the light and of dear, old Mrs. Romanov.
After a perfectly placed splash page featuring the beautiful Josie, our beautiful housewife of a bygone era amidst a scene of bloody chaos, we get a peek into her seemingly perfect home life. We are introduced to her overbearing German mother-in-law and we meet Mr. Schuller as well as the couple’s adorable twin daughters. A perfect little family living a seemingly perfect little life.
During dinner the phone rings and new light is shed. Her mysterious ‘handler’, a man named Peck, calls with a new assignment. Josie, not wanting to mix family and business, effectively cuts the conversation off. Later, while watching TV with the fam, Peck arrives and we see Josie’s devious side. He offers her another hit and she plays a little hard to get. Some of my favorite panels in the book happen after Peck hands her the pertinents and leaves. Josie blesses us with a mischievous smile and saunters back towards the house. Those aren’t just quirks of the character, that is telling a story through visual medium at it’s finest.
The book ends with another great splash page and we know the story has only just begun. Joelle Jones has a knack for telling a tale in her one-page shots and the final images of Lady Killer don’t disappoint. All in all it’s a great first issue and readers will get what they pay for. This is issue one of five but from what I’ve seen here I’d be surprised if fans let Jones and Rich stop there.
Lady Killer #1 is in stores now.