‘Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike’ review
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Fantasy western—it’s not a genre I find myself exploring often, but in the case of Pretty Deadly, that’s the only way of describing this book. I find myself conflicted as I write this review: Was the graphic novel actually good, or am I simply being deceived by a convoluted plot and a lot of pretty pictures?
In understanding Pretty Deadly, you must first understand the style of the writer, Kelly DeConnick. As proven with some of her previous works, such as Captain Marvel and Bitch Planet, her focus is on atmosphere as opposed to character development, similar to the way old sci-fi novels and movies were presented. Instead of getting to know and understanding the characters, the plot was simply a way of showing off the world, using that to emotionally influence the audience.
We can see this in Pretty Deadly with the continual emphasis on the “fight or flight” instinct with the protagonist, Deathface Ginny. For her, there are only those two options when confrontation erupts, and the entire plot is centered around her running away from her destiny to become the next avatar of Death.
My only issue with the writing is that DeConnick obviously meant for this to be a long series, so a lot of the plot is left open, which is very annoying. Even for extended series, only key points should be left open to address later, but in the case of Pretty Deadly, barely anything is concluded by the final page. To be fair, this could be the fault of the editor, as this is a collected work.
Artistically, I have seen few graphic novels that have sustained their incredible artistic aesthetic as well as this novel does. Emma Rios is one of my personal favourite artists, and this book is a prime example of why. To put it very simply, it is beautiful.
Despite my slight issues with the plot, I did enjoy this book, and will probably continue with the series.