Pretty Deadly: The Rat – A Book Review

pretty deadly the rat

This is the third book in the Pretty Deadly series. It’s written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, drawn and inked by Emma Rios, and colored by Jordie Bellaire.

If you’re unfamiliar with this series, it’s a little … hard to describe.

It’s narrated to us by a skeletal rabbit and a butterfly, and it’s generally about a young girl who is also partially a bird and has taken over “the Garden” from Death, thus becoming Death herself. She is trying to revitalizing “the Garden,” and in doing so must recollect the Reapers, former tools of Death.

This particular volume focuses upon a man whose niece has died in 1930s Hollywood. He takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of her death, and in doing so runs across Ginny, the Reaper of Vengeance and friend to the new Death. Ginny helps the man, and the two of them realize that the niece led a complicated life intertwined with several other Reapers.

Pretty Deadly has never followed narrative convention, and The Rat is no different. It has a plot, but the plot doesn’t unfold or conclude as you might expect. This is what I admire so much about Pretty Deadly. It tells stories, but it does so in a unique fashion that really is unlike anything else out there. Some will find it too convoluted, or maybe even too nonsensical. I can’t argue with those who have that opinion. For me, though, it’s a breath of fresh air.

If you’re looking for an innovative read, Pretty Deadly: The Rat might just satisfy. This particular volume is a little bit horror, a little bit mystery, a little bit noir, and a whole lot of inventive mythology.

Rios’ art is captivating; Bellaire’s colors are mesmerizing; DeConnick’s stories and dialogue are cutting-edge. What more could you want?

Pretty Deadly: The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios – A Book Review

This is a strange book and I mean that as a total compliment.  Strange is good.  Unique is appreciated.  Original is commendable.  Pretty Deadly is all of those things, and more.

Pretty Deadly is not a linear story.  Meaning, it doesn’t start at an origin, then progress to a conclusion.  It sort of begins in the middle of things, offers some hints as to what occurred in the past, yet doesn’t totally explain what’s occurring in the middle.  By the book’s end, you have a good idea of what happened, but not a complete one.  For some books, this would be a gross misstep, but DeConnick executes it masterfully and I trust that the writer knows exactly what she’s doing.

For example, by and large, we don’t know much about the characters.  They are explored just enough to seem round, dynamic, real, but we don’t know everything.  For a few of them, we don’t know anything.  Even so, I want to know more.  This is not a plot driven book, though it certainly has an interesting one.  This is a story about people (of sorts).

This is a rather unconventional title, and that’s why it works so well.  Death personified is a major player, but that’s not necessarily breaking new ground.  The story occurs in the Old West, but that’s not unheard of in the comic book world, either.  But the combination of the two, coupled with mysticism, swordplay, gunfights, and a mythology-in-the-making sets Pretty Deadly apart from anything else out there at the moment.

Rios’ artwork is frenetic, almost messy, yet oddly detailed.  It suits the story well.  At times it’s hard to tell what’s going on, especially during the brutal fight scenes, but I believe that’s actually a boon to this title.  Fights usually are messy and confusing, and since this story is not delivered in a neat, tidy little package, I see no reason for the art to contradict the story’s style.

The story ends on a bittersweet note, but one that certainly lays the groundwork for many interesting stories to come.  If you’re looking for something different from a comic book, something well executed and purposeful, something that will stand the test of time, I urge you to give Pretty Deadly a shot.