Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Her father was violence and her mother was grief and she was meant to live and know love..."
Oh, the cadence of this comic is perfect!
I can hear every sentence spoken, and 'The Song Of Deathface Ginny, And How She Come To Be' has all the quick, slick beats of one of those baritone western drawls, and is so well worded it could almost be a Nick Cave gallop like The Ballad Of Betty Coltrane.
'The Song Of Deathface Ginny, And How She Came To Be' is told by an odd-eyed girl in the vulture cloak whom her companion, blind Fox, calls Sissy. Professional, travelling storytellers, they stand before the townsfolk on a gallows' platform, Fox hoisting an illustrative cloth banner above the crowd on a cross.
"It all began when the Mason man took beauty for his bride
He quick turned a fool and made her a jewel
In the crown of his glittering pride
"He'd loved that gal since they were kids, a beauty for more than her skin
But he crushed that joy, when he made her a toy
To tease before covetous men.
"Overcome with the fear that he'd lose her, he built her a prison of stone.
She said, "I'll die for despair if you put me in there!"
If only he'd listened, if only he'd known."
It reveals how the bride begged for Death to come and take her only, for Death to be smitten as well. Deathface Ginny was their child, raised to be a Reaper of Vengeance, a hunter of men who have sinned.
"If you done been wronged, say her name, sing this song,
Ginny rides for you on the wind, my child
Death rides on the wind."
There is many a truth behind legend and lore, and you can expect that song to be sung. What rides in on that wind will blow holes in closely kept secrets, for there is far more to Fox and to Sissy than one of them knows.
Bargains have been made and bargains have been broken; the truth has yet to be extracted and vengeance to be exacted. And if you think I'm being elusive / allusive,) you ain't read nothing yet.
As you may have guessed this is far from a straight-forward Western. It's full of the same careful wordplay you'll find in 100 BULLETS with protagonists sizing each other up, taking each other's measure before potentially taking a life. But in other ways it's closer to SANDMAN, though in which ways (and which volume precisely), I will not say.
PRETTY DEADLY is infused with all the fog-shrouded, haunting power of ghost-ship legends. Pirate Jenny springs to mind.
Moreover Emma Rios - along with colour artist Jordie Bellaire - has knocked this out of the park. Both scream Paul Pope as loud as the battered crows caw and, oh, those black feathers! Some of the page structures are complex and clever, with inlaid panels revealing some secrets only with a careful scrutiny while the surrounding narrative thunders on. Other scenes seem to dissolve into each other, but such is the nature of dreams.
There will be swarms of butterflies, rivers of squirming maggots and strange allegiances struck. I can promise you clashes of swords, hails of bullets and quick-fire choreography. I can also promise you answers. They won't come immediately, you will have to be patient, but everything's here for a reason.
I can also promise you truths.
"Poke at a bison often enough, you gonna get gored."