Josie Schuller is not your typical 1960s housewife: she has to juggle her full-time job of being a homemaker with her more violent nature as a hitman. Is it good?
Lady Killer #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
A much overlooked piece of the comic, when it comes to reviews, was what caught my eye when perusing the options to review at Dark Horse Comics: the cover. Joëlle Jones draws a stereotypical 1960s homemaker performing her duties of cleaning the house except, this housewife is cleaning up massive blood stains and has a flirtatious look complemented with a nice ankle dip, begging you to peek inside.
You will be glad you picked this one up, because Jones and Jamie S. Rich provide a refreshing take on the killer-for-hire story. The opening page begins with a platonic door-to-door sales pitch for Avon with Josie adjusting her hat just before she knocks on the door. This introduction fully envelops the reader into the timeframe of the story. Not only is she doing door–to-door sales, but she is using a door knocker; no doorbells yet! Jones continues to immerse the reader into the 60s with her depiction of the woman answering the door: curlers in her hair and a cigarette hanging from her lips. All the dogs running around conjure up visions from my childhood of Cruella de Vil. However, there is one panel which warps physics and elongates Josie’s arm and hand as she reaches inside the door to shake hands. It throws a kink in the immersion.
The actual sales pitch is quite hilarious. Read without the panels, one envisions an Avon salesperson showing off her collection of cosmetics from lipstick to perfume, but with the visual, the words take on a whole new meaning. The illustration of their two opposing demeanors with Josie acting out of concern and Mrs. Roman hacking up a storm and having her lips pursed together is a riot.
Jones and Rich create a little too much drama, but it is all for the better since it leads to an intense action sequence. If you have not read anything by Jones before, her action sequences are top-notch detailing not only good flow through the sequence, but also multiple levels of emotions from both of the characters.
The second half of the book switches gears and displays Josie’s role as a homemaker with a working husband, twin girls, and a nosy mother-in-law. The sequence creates a little tension on the home front with the mother-in-law that is ripe for exploration. It also explores the emotional toll Josie’s side gig is taking on her. Josie goes from fearful to focused to “Dinner’s ready!” all within three panels; it really shows how quickly she must compose herself for her family. If there were not enough layers in just this one episode, Jones and Rich add probably the biggest. Josie’s contact for her jobs is a stud and there is some definite chemistry between the two with Josie even playing a little hard to get.
Laura Allred’s colors are for the most part well done, usually using plain background colors contrasted with bright colors in the foreground especially concerning the characters’ clothes. There were some issues where it appears she adds a filter fading the colors and it is quite noticeable when Josie’s dress goes from a hot pink to a more faded light pink. Crank! does a good job with the lettering and to highlight a specific bubble he used a black shadow around one of the bubbles to give it a bold effect, emphasizing the command being given. It created a tone of voice where otherwise there would not have been one.
Is It Good?
Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich have created a fresh take on the killer for hire, combining black comedy, violent action sequences, and plenty of dramatic tension all in an idyllic backdrop. Josie Schuller is a unique character who must balance home life with her more exotic occupation and the book touches on the emotional toll that balancing act takes. Lady Killer is a series to keep your eye on in this New Year!