Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: Joëlle Jones
Release Date: 3rd August 2016
Hot on the heels of snagging a trifecta of 2016 Eisner Award nominations (Best Limited Series, Best Penciller/Inker and Best Cover Artist, for those keeping score at home), Dark Horse’s critically acclaimed Lady Killer is back next month, with creator Joëlle Jones continuing the story of dutiful 60s suburban housewife (and part-time hired assassin) Josie Schuller as she tries to move on from the shockingly violent conclusion of the first series.
This new arc sees Josie and her family relocated to Cocoa Beach, Florida, and Josie trying to start up her own business to capitalise on her particular set of skills – with somewhat mixed results. As with the previous series, there’s a wonderful sense of charm provided by the mishaps which frequently befall our heroine while trying to go about her “business”, with unreliable hacksaws and flimsy trash bags among the laundry list of things making things more difficult than they should be for Mrs Schuller. It’s also rather endearing the way Josie repeats her motivational mantras (“nothing in this world can take the place of persistence”, etc.) in her head while she carries out her gory duties.
Visually, Jones proves without a shadow of a doubt that she deserves every inch of her Eisner nominations, with a striking aesthetic that rapidly shifts from Normal Rockwell kitsch to brutal, Dexter-esque violence at the drop of a hat. Even with the blood being coloured in black rather than red, there are some truly shocking sequences to be had here. Seriously, if you’ve never seen an old lady on a toilet being brutally murdered with the business end of a claw hammer, you’re in for a treat. Well… assuming treat is the right word.
Jones offsets the gore and eyebrow-raising violence with a black sense of humour throughout, and once again the intriguing juxtaposition between Josie’s business life and her personal one – not to mention the fact she’s such a fiercely likeable protagonist – keeps the pages turning. My only real niggle about this first issue is the fact that, for all the great moments along the way, we aren’t really given much indication of where this new story is heading, save for a mysterious cliffhanger on the final page. This is very much an issue that focuses on establishing the new status quo, and while that status quo undeniably makes for wonderful reading, the impatient reader in me wants to know what’s happening next.
This minor niggle aside, the flair with which Joëlle Jones executes the story – not to mention the legitimately world-class artwork – makes this an absolute joy to read. The first series of Lady Killer started off with an intriguing, attention grabbing hook (a housewife assassin!) before gradually unveiling a tense, dramatic and darkly comic character piece, and this second arc has all the hallmarks of delivering exactly the same captivating experience. Highly, highly recommended.
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