Review: Lady Killer #4

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Lady Killer #4, Jones and Rich, Jones on cover, Dark Horse, 2015Lady Killer #4

Joelle Jones & Jamie S. Rich (scripter), Joelle Jones (artist), Laura Allred (colors), Crank! (letters)
Joelle Jones & Laura Allred (cover)

Well, it’s the fourth issue, which means it’s the penultimate issue, which also means if you haven’t been buying this comic yet, you are now on my list.

In issue #3, Josie faced a job that she was unable to complete. In issue #4, Peck is after Josie per Stenholm’s orders, and Josie teams up with some unlikely folk.

Penultimate issues seem to the be most difficult to write. The momentum towards the conclusion must be maintained without giving away the ending, while enough action must occur for the issue not to feel like filler. I think this is why Bitch Planet, which is set to be a much longer series, is smart in using every third issue for providing background on the characters of the series.

But more on the issue of the fourth issue to come. First, let’s talk about what happens in this issue.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Despite the violence, I found myself laughing at the first couple pages where Peck is trying to kill Josie, but the petticoats from her outfit are inconveniencing both of them. She is twisting and turning to reach for her gun, and Peck is mucking around her petticoats in order to acquire a target. But this humor doesn’t last for long as someone comes to Josie’s aid. Josie flees the scene, and Peck ends up shooting the good Samaritan (do they count as a good Samaritan if they are carrying a shotgun?). This scene sparked two specific thoughts:

  1. Considering that Josie failed to complete her last job because of who the target was—but she bailed on this interaction, knowing full well what Peck is capable of—brings into stark relief the types of lives our society values over others. Unfortunately, this occurrence feels trite considering that Josie a woman and a mother.
  2. This scene also paints Peck for what he is instead of romanticizing him as the dangerous-but-sexy key male player in Josie’s story. If at this point Peck becomes a romantic interest (which is hinted at in the character’s flirtatious interactions in prior issues) I will be thoroughly annoyed, because again, it’s just so damn trite and reinforces problematic gender dynamics.

In the middle of the issue, we return to Josie’s domestic life and once again Jones and Rich demonstrate an ability to insert cheeky humor in less than humorous scenarios. Josie is careening around town in her husband’s truck after Peck while her blonde and blue-eyed twin daughters gleefully bounce around the front seat unbuckled, which was pretty common to the era. Congress didn’t pass legislation requiring standard safety features for all automobiles until 1959. 

However, I found myself somewhat perplexed by the character’s actions in these scenes, considering their characterization up to this point. Josie winds up in the same location as Peck, her daughters in tow, yet Peck fails to recognize Josie even though she is wearing the same outfit from their previous encounter (petticoats and all) and has two rowdy children accompanying her. It seems like this is something Peck, an assassin, would notice. Secondly, considering that Josie could not complete her last job due to who her target was and that she is very protective of her domestic life, I found it strange she dragged her children along with her as she tracks down Peck. 

That being said, I don’t think this issue is a filler by any means. It still advances the plot and leaves me wanting more, but felt a little inconsistent. Two new characters have been brought in and they seem fascinating and unique, as opposed to being the caricatures they could easily become.

Jones’ art and Allred’s colors continue to provide a visual treat that delights my love of midcentury design while also avoiding falling into the trap of nostalgia. Seeing two female bodies battling really brought home what I mentioned in my review of the third issue. Jones and Allred create bodies that are functional, not there to be festishized in a chick fight. I notice this most when Josie is cast in shadows which emphasizes these bodies as lithe and muscular with their long limbs taking up space.

Next month is “The Thrilling Conclusion”; I suggest you stock up on the issues in preparation. Jones and Rich have mentioned that they have plans for future issues, but it depends on the sales of the first five. So don’t be an asshole, and go buy this comic.

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Smashing the patriarchy with glitter, pink lipstick, and cowboy boots. You can follow her on Instagram @ginnistonik

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