Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"No orientals. Have I ever told you that? This was one of those streets. Not anymore.
"Pearl. Not to worry... I already figured it out.
"Steady hand with the tattoo needle. Steady hand with a gun.
"All these years, no one ever connected the two professions..."
"Mr Miike. I was just there."
"Just 'one of those things.'"
"The thing is... things like that become bigger things.
"Do not worry. I am not giving you to the other clan.
"Come with me."
Well, I guess being an incredibly talented tattoo artist and 'accidental assassin' isn't the most preposterous employment overlap. I mean, I'm a comics retailer and a ninja on the quiet... Though I only sling shuriken when people don't pick up their standing orders...
Anyway... Pearl's hidden skills are revealed when she saves the life of a fellow tattooist at a food cart from an Uzi-wielding motorcyclist, by popping the biker straight in the head with a pistol given to her for protection by her dad, who is currently doing a long stretch in prison.
Certainly Mr Miike, the local Yakuza boss sees Pearl's sharp shooting as grounds for involuntary advancement within the 'business' and promptly hands her a list of people to take care of. You know, permanently. Unfortunately top of the docket is one Rick Araki, the name of tattooist she's just earned an undying debt of gratitude from for not letting him be ventilated good and proper. Oh and she quite fancies him too...
This is going to get complicated isn't it?
Of course it is, for this is Bendis back on top crime-related form, paired up with his Jessica Jones co-creating crony Michael ALIAS Gaydos! So before too long you'll be wondering just how naive Pearl really is, precisely what it is her banged-up dad is actually protecting her from, and be in absolutely no doubt whatsoever how fucking annoying her best mate Kim is.
The hidden games that seemingly everyone is playing soon start to be revealed, much like Pearl's tattoos that only appear all over her albino white skin when she becomes flushed, merely one of many exquisite artistic flourishes from Gaydos.
Pearl also has another tattoo, a very visible spider on her wrist inked by a near-mythical master named Iriguci, which is actually responsible for kicking off all her current woes. I suspect we may eventually find out more about that spectacular arachnid specimen, the precise circumstances of how she came by it and indeed the mysterious Iriguci himself...
It's an intriguing, action-packed opener from two talents operating at peak efficiency. I found the story from Bendis more than sufficiently complex in comparison to his recent DC capes output, which I have to say, really feels like it has to still get going for me. But if he keeps producing works like this and the mildly comedic COVER in conjunction with David Mack, about a comics artist who gets recruited as a spy, though, then I won't really care.
Gaydos, meanwhile, is just on top absolute top form here. The backgrounds, patterned panel layouts, full page spreads, you name it, I could wax lyrical about so much, but I will let the interior art I have selected speak for itself. I'm not sure I could do it just anyway.
It isn't often I will just flick through a book again after reading it to absorb matters on an entirely purely artistic level, but I did so for a good twenty minutes on finishing this. Absolutely masterful and entirely faultless. Gaydos would probably make an exceptional tattooist. I'd certainly trust him to ink me based on this work. I'd probably not offer to get myself into a life and death situation and hand him a pistol to save the day mind.
Crazy thought that, though... The next thing, you'll be telling me a comics artist would make a great spy too... what glorious lunatic would come up with a crazy concept like th... Ah!