Scheme Team Review: Pretty Deadly, Issue 3

Welp, its time to review Issue 3 of Pretty Deadly. We were on the fence, so its time to see if we can come down.
 

Andy: Whereas last issue we got frustrated by the big action sequences obscuring any plot or character development, this time round the pendulum has swung the other way. This time we get the back story for ALL the characters, but its still at the expense of any sort of storytelling in the present.

Of course the artwork is still carrying this book. And while the crowded layouts are proving to be more feature than bug, Emma Rios has given several pages quite a bit of room to breathe, which gives a good balance to the book.

The real problem with all of this is that three issues in, I still don’t have a feel for where this story is going. We spend most of this issue in a flashback that lays out the relationships between all of the characters, and as flashback sequences go, this is an excellent one. (Again, its carried by some amazing art.) But I got to the end, and wondered if this story was so important, why not tell it to us directly. At this point I have serious concerns that Kelly Sue doesn’t know where this train is headed.

 

Eric: Say what you will about the story being told here, at least in this issue it’s being told coherently. Transitions between scenes are handled much more gracefully and the pages read a lot better panel to panel. It probably helps that there’s not a lot of whiz-bang action, which has been the main source of readability issues so far. The improved flow made it a lot easier for me to get everything out of the art, and boy is it pretty. Once again, the coloring is the standout to me, and there’s a lot of good use of negative space during Fox’s tale.

But yeah, what about that tale? A supernatural western should be a shoo-in, but this story hasn’t really clicked for me yet. In the first two issues I wanted a little more insight into why people were doing what they were doing, and now that I know, I don’t find it to be all that interesting. The characters are not compelling in the slightest, and maybe it’s just what happens when you channel a well-worn genre like the western, but I feel like there’s nothing really surprising about them. I guess what I’m saying is that they could all die in issue four and it wouldn’t really have an impact on me. As for the direction of this here train, I’m willing to give Kelly Sue DeConnick the benefit of the doubt (being a fan of Doctor Who sort of requires you to have faith in the long game), but at this point I’m fine if me and it go our separate ways.

You raise an interesting point about telling the Mason’s fable as a tall tale versus just coming out with it, and it’s an issue I dealt with quite a bit when I was coming up with Mercy’s Shadow (back when it was just called Mercy). My original plan was for the “present” characters to be dealing with the repercussions of major happenings from the past, but eventually came to the same conclusion you reached here – that if it’s that important to this world and the characters, maybe it’s worth showing in detail. I would have missed out on a ton of meaningful character development (and ended up with three different tiers of flashbacks) had I not decided to just move the whole story back in the timeline and focus on those events, and I can’t help but wonder if a more intimate relationship with those seemingly defining bits of Pretty Deadly lore wouldn’t help breathe some life into the characters.

 

Andy: I think it all comes back to something you said last time: This feels like another number 1 issue. Entirely exposition and mood setting, at the expense of character building. At this point I am a bit torn; it seems as though the background is all out of the way now, and we are ready to dive in to the rollicking adventure western promised. But I have also lost quite a bit of interest over these first 3 issues, and I don’t think I can keep it on my pull list.

The artwork is still very much worth it. This may be a good title to return to in a few months once it has reached a full boil.



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