Lady Killer Vol. 2, #1
Joelle Jones (story & art), Michelle Madsen (colors), Crank! (letters)
August 3, 2016
Lady Killer is back, which means more bloodshed and mid-century modern fabulosity!
(Note: This review is based on an advanced review copy from the publisher and may contain spoilers.)
I have been eagerly awaiting the relaunch of Lady Killer, following Joelle Jones’ Tumblr in anticipation, and this issue did not disappoint. Picking up a year after the events of the first series, Josie is back as a pioneering female entrepreneur in mid-20th century America. She even brings her own Tupperware and cleans up the mess like only a good 1950s housewife can!
This cheekiness is what makes Lady Killer so fun – it plays with classic gendered tropes from the era (like a Tupperware party), and gleefully destroys them in a bloodied mess. This glee is important for balancing the seriousness of what Josie does. Considering the themes and aesthetic of Lady Killer, this could all quickly venture into camp, yet there always seems to be a very real threat for Josie lurking around every corner, and this issue is no different. At the end of the first series, Josie’s mother-in-law found out about Josie’s nefarious side job, and that tension is palpable when Josie is at home with her family. While her former agency had its share of misogyny, it provided a level of protection that Josie no longer has, and she faces the consequences of losing that safety at the end of this issue.
The art and coloring balance the writing’s playful dance between irreverence and danger. Jones’ love of mid-century design is evident in her careful attention to everything from the characters’ clothing to the signage in the background. As a mid-century design geek, I spend a lot of time sussing each page in Lady Killer, and I am continually rewarded for doing so. Irreverent inserts like a dog shitting in the background prevent Jones’ love of 1950s aesthetics from veering into an uncritical reverence for the era – a dangerous tendency in American nostalgia. Smatterings of black ink throughout the issue left me wondering if these spots were intended to indicate blood or debris – either works as cracks in the white nuclear family so revered in nostalgic lamentations for the good ol’ days before the civil rights movement.
Based on this delightfully wicked start, I am hoping to see more of Mother Schuller, maybe even an uneasy alliance between these two women. If Jones’ Tumblr is any indication, Mother Schuller may very well have her own bloody past to contend with, and seeing how this overlaps with Josie’s current vocation only spells intrigue.